Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Get Uncomfortable! It'll Make you Happy!
I had a meeting at the television studio this morning that I'd forgotten about. I rushed out of here and got there just as it was starting. This meant that I hadn't eaten and didn't really have enough coffee. By the time I left the meeting I was fairly hungry but I needed to get home as well, because the unexpected meeting meant my children didn't know that I would be gone and I needed to get back to pick them up.
So there I was, hungry and uncomfortable. As I drove through town I was tempted to stop at a drive-thru and grab a muffin or something else to stave of the pangs but instead I made the decision to drive home, about 15 minutes, and eat food that was already waiting for me. Healthy food. In doing so I saved a few dollars and ate a healthier lunch.
As I was driving home it dawned on me that we make a whole lot of decisions based upon our inability or unwillingness to experience a little discomfort in our bodies, in our minds and also emotional discomfort. It's often that discomfort that prevents us from moving forward in our lives, staying where we are at, hanging on to behaviours that do not serve us well because we are afraid to feel discomfort.
Now I'm not talking about extreme pain. Certainly no one should live with agony. No one should have to tolerate extreme discomfort to the point that it affects their quality of life. What I'm talking about are just the smaller discomforts, the ones that cause us to make day to day decisions that are easier in the moment but better for us to take a moment and think longer term.
We are a society that pops a pill for every little ache now. I recently had a cold. I took exactly nothing. I drank extra orange juice because it appealed to me. I didn't take pharmaceutical remedies and I didn't take herbal remedies. I was uncomfortable for several days but on day 5 the cold was gone leaving only a tickly cough. I had a few meetings where coughing could have been disruptive so I popped cough drops for that, something soothing rather than healing. I slept more and drank more fluids and that was it.
It is this inability to be uncomfortable that causes us to pop a pill or look for a remedy for every tickle at the back of our throats, every sad moment, every sneeze, every congestion, every fever, every physical ailment. I would never suggest that anyone sit in the depths of clinical depression without treatment. I would suggest that it is OK to experience normal pain and grief and emotion without pharmaceutical assistance. I believe it's important to go through the stages of grief and negative emotion such as sadness, anger, guilt, and to not mask them with pills or drugs, prescription or illegal. It's important to experience the discomfort in order to allow our bodies to heal and recover from life's knocks.
It is the unwillingness we have as a society to be uncomfortable that causes us to over eat or to eat the food in front of us even if it's not healthy simply because we can't wait in discomfort for healthier choices. We don't get the exercise our bodies need because of the discomfort of exertion or of the judgement of our bodies by others. We don't do the things we should do to make ourselves whole and well because we choose the comfort of what we know!
Inertia often sets in when people become afraid of being uncomfortable. Today while I was at the meeting, another volunteer mentioned that she had read my blog and enjoyed it. She asked if I did any "Speaking" and I immediately felt uncomfortable. I have considered public speaking. I don't mind speaking at wedding and events that are less formal but to speak from the heart on topics such as those I write about here is a bit outside of my comfort zone. But then I thought, "wait, I'm going to be on television. I'm already quite outside my box doing even that and while I'm a bit nervous, I'm pretty sure I'm going to be OK with that". It's excited nerves and it's a positive feeling. So yeah, tucked away in the back of my mind is the likelihood that I will do public speaking at some point. Not yet, but I will someday.
So I suggest we all look around at our lives. Is there some way we're covering up a slight discomfort with something that is holding us back. Is there a phone call you should make that you know will be for the greater good but you hesitate to do so because doing it might make you nervous. Is there a job you want? Do you want to go to school? Do you want to change careers? Join a gym?
It's like exercise. When I first started Dragon Boating I would be so sore after a practice, it was very painful. For two days after Monday night practice, I'd feel muscle aches everywhere. Now, I don't feel a twinge, nothing. I practiced Monday, this is Wednesday, not a single muscle ache. I've adjusted, I've gotten stronger and I feel it! Every time the muscles are damaged by the rowing, they recover stronger and stronger.
So start exercising your life muscles. Step outside of your comfort zone. Sneeze your way through a cold, go hungry for a few minutes, avoid the fast junk food and take the time to make that salad and do something that you've always wanted to do in life even if the thought of it scares you! It's all worth it to experience the growth you are meant to experience and to have the life that you are supposed to lead, a life that is purposeful and fulfilled, if a little uncomfortable at times!
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