I recently came across something that settled into my psyche in a way other such things had not. I can’t honestly recall what it was. It might have been something I read or listened to, I just can’t recall the where, how, what, or who.
But apart from crediting them with giving me the notion to explore, it’s not all that important. But the takeaway is.
No matter how comfortable you get, nor all the achievements you achieve, it remains necessary for there to be some discomfort.
Why? Because without that discomfort, even on a very small level, you have no impetus for growth, change, or learning.
Think about it. If you are completely comfortable how much do you resist moving? For example, when you get all snuggled into bed, under the covers at night, you have no desire but to drift off to sleep.
A little discomfort, however, will make you move. Might be an itch. It could be a dry mouth. Or worst of all, a full bladder you can’t ignore.
But that’s an almost perfect metaphor for this idea. A little discomfort, that inconvenience, makes you move.
In the grander scheme of your life, that can be all it takes to influence change.
Life is impermanent
The more I study Buddhism and humanism, the more I don’t just see this notion, but really feel it. Life is impermanent. Even the most lasting things don’t last.
Pause a moment and reflect on your own life. How many of the people who were your close friends in, say, elementary school, are you still regularly in touch with? Do you talk to the coworkers you were friendly with from your High School job? Do you still wear the same underwear you wore in college?
All of these, I am pretty certain, have changed. Change is the one true constant in the Universe. Change happens, and you get to choose whether you will be swept up by change or be an active participant in it.
I know that there are things that happen out there that are way outside your control. The world issues at hand are pretty far removed from you and your day to day existence. They can cause change that you might be caught up in, but unless that happens you can only attend protests, make calls, send out emails, and vote in elections to have any real impact on these issues.
But your everyday life, from waking to sleeping, is wholly within your control. And no matter how similar one day is to the next, they are not the same. The weather will be variable, the traffic will differ, and how your body feels is inconstant.
In other words, it’s all impermanent. You can resist that all you like…or embrace it.
However, embracing it doesn’t mean you will become completely and permanently comfortable with it. However much discomfort you experience, though, may be healthy for you.
Discomfort sparks action
Back to my earlier metaphor. There you are, comfy in bed, and you develop an itch. You don’t want to move, but you need to scratch it. Your mouth is dry, and you need to reach for the glass of water you keep on the nightstand. The discomfort of your full bladder forces you up and out of the cozy bed and off to the bathroom.
The point is that the discomfort sparks action. Sure, you can choose not to act on any of these, but the consequences of your inaction could be annoying to severe. The itch might fade, you can ignore a dry mouth, but peeing the bed is not a good option.
The type of discomfort I am talking about in this instance is that nagging sense that you could be doing something. That there is more to be learned. It might be that you are having an incredible life, but still needing to gain something else, tangible or intangible.
This is good because this is what sparks growth. If makes you move in order to explore, gather information, gain more knowledge, and so on. You take an action that will teach you something, or gain you something, or otherwise shift your existence.
Why can’t we just be comfortable?
Because change is inevitable. It is constant and it is always happening. The sun may rise and set every day, but the time of that rising and setting changes ever-so-slightly. Air temperature shifts sometimes a little and other times drastically. Nature changes.
Human nature is to grow and learn. Some people resist this and would rather shrink and hide, but they will still be forced forward. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous individuals and organizations that take advantage of this, and strive to think and act FOR you.
You are in a constant state of change. Your body changes as you age. Hair and nails grow. Skin is replaced with new skin all the time. You can’t just be comfortable in a single place for all time because that’s not your nature.
Nor is it the nature of ANYTHING. Cats might nap a lot, but then there is Crazy Time when they run pointlessly across the room at high speed. Trees, grass, flowers, and other flora grow. Tectonic plates shift, rocks fall, volcanos spew ash and lava that forms islands where naught but ocean was before. Galaxies spin.
Thus, nothing is truly stagnant.
It’s important to recognize that a little bit of discomfort that sparks action can be proactive or reactive. The choice, however, is yours.
Influencing growth and change
You are empowered to control yourself. You may have limited influence on how your hair and nails grow, but you can choose how to trim both.
But the core of who you are, your mindset, the you inside your head…that belongs wholly to you. Nobody else is in there but you, and you get to choose your thoughts, feelings, and actions.
This is the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is awareness, in the now, of your consciousness, and the thoughts and feelings that make up your mindset or headspace. You have complete influence and control over this.
Things happen that cause you to think and feel in certain ways. But you get to choose how long you will allow those things to impact you. When someone angers you, you get to choose how long you will chew on that anger, versus releasing it (preferably in some non-destructive manner) and moving forward, for example.
My point here is that discomfort is going to happen in some form or another. Mindfulness lets you see and grasp that discomfort. Rather than react to it, you get to be proactive. That, in turn, can help you influence how you might grow and change.
Consciousness creates reality. When you are conscious of discomfort, you can see how it can be used to create a reality you desire. Then you start the business, ask the person out, move across the world, or read that book which sparks action and gives you the keys to drive your life.
A little discomfort is healthy. Without a little discomfort, growth doesn’t happen, and the world doesn’t have a chance to know the best you that you can be.
How will you handle that little bit of discomfort you will inevitably feel at times?
You are worthy and deserving of using your mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you and I matter, as does what we do with discomfort.