Discomfort Has No Role In Decision Making
Discomfort Is Outdated
Discomfort, a slight physical or emotional pain, developed as an evolutionary necessity; historically, considering the unpleasantness of discomfort during decision making was for the best of the species. Berries make your stomach uneasy? Stop eating them. Prickly bush scratches your skin? Don’t let it happen again.
On average your body does a good job correlating discomfort with actions that are bad for your well being, but it’s important to note that your body isn’t right 100% of the time!
The world has changed a lot since we developed the capacity to feel discomfort. I claim that people would be better off if they were to diminish or even eliminate the role that discomfort plays in the decision making process, opting instead for considering “long term” consequences. At least personally, this mentality shift has had a huge positive impact on my day to day life.
Benefits to Daily Life
There are many things that people know they should be doing try to do but can’t do with success:
- eating healthy
- getting 8 hours of sleep a night
- exercising regularly
- taking cold showers
A common reason people don’t commit to these resolutions is that they rationalize them away on the basis of the required discomfort. People don’t want to miss out on the taste of junk food, or deal with the pain of a work out. After removing discomfort, the only reason left not to do build these healthy habits would be the cost of time, but even the busiest people can carve out a little bit of time for these activities that have much higher returns than the time investment (yes even you!).
Since the new year I have started every morning with a 20 minute workout. My workout consists of handstand pushups, pullups, hanging leg raises, and stretching. By framing the workout as having a cost of 20 minutes and forgetting about the discomfort I will experience during the workout, I am having an easier time maintaining the habit (knock on wood). It takes just 20 minutes and leaves me feeling energized for the rest of the day.
After my workout I hop into a cold shower. Similarly, I dispell thoughts relating to the discomfort of the cold water, and instead phrase the cold shower as a healthy experience that will take just 5 minutes. I wake right up and feel warm as soon as I get out of the cold.
The previous examples were activites of relatively minor discomfort that have compounding positive effects when incorporating them into daily life. Another benefit of making them ritual is to prepare you for dire needs which may include:
- a necessary confrontation
- asking someone out
- asking for a raise
- building moral courage
- generally getting out of one’s comfort zone
These are the types of scenarios where people often regret not stepping out of their comfort zones; by building a tolerance for discomfort you will more easily take them on.
Keep the faculty of effort alive in you by a little gratuitous exercise every day. Do every day or two something for no other reason than that you would rather not do it, so that when the hour of dire needs draws nigh, it may find you not unnerved and untrained to stand the test - The Way To Willpower
I hope that this mentality shift is as helpful to you as it was to me. Please leave any comments or reflections below :)