Let us first break it down:
Literal dictionary meanings (relevant to the context) –
Embrace: Acceptance of something (a belief, theory or change) willingly and enthusiastically.
Discomfort: Absence of comfort or ease; uneasiness or hardship.
Humans have a natural tendency of finding a ‘comfort zone’ – a behavioral space where there is minimum stress and risk. We look for it everywhere we go and in everything we do. We really do feel at home in that virtual space.
When we decide of getting out of the comfort zone, that is exactly when the discomfort is born, and it increases manifold when we actually start acting on that decision. It makes us feel uneasy, we lose our sense of familiarity, security and certainty, which really is displeasing and stressful. It makes us hate our job, workplace, studies, lectures, seminars, exercise routines, etc., as the case may be. And, our brain comes up with all possible reasons why we should stop here and get back to the warm and cozy comfort zone.
Then why should we get out of our comfort zone?
There is nothing wrong in being in the comfort zone unless we reach a stage where it starts holding us back. We stop challenging ourselves, we stop expanding and evolving. We start rationalizing our actions and search for a place in the mediocrity, just to be a part of the surrounding crowd to get their acceptability.
In the above diagram, the green part (in between) is only a small part of our achieving potential we’ll explore staying in the comfort zone. So, we need to break out of it and unleash our potential to grow beneath our skins and beyond our imaginations, and achieve what has, by far, been considered unachievable.
When Hellen Keller stepped out her comfort zone:
Hellen Keller, born in 1880, became deaf and blind before her second birthday. Despite this crippling disability, she learned to read and write, and became the first deaf-blind person, in the history of mankind, known to have gained a bachelor degree. She campaigned on issues of women sufferings, social welfare and rights of the disabled. The force of her personality was impressive!
She said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” Quite a statement, eh?
Being slightly uncomfortable, whether or not by choice, can push us to achieve goals we never thought we could. How can we expect to evolve in our lives and careers when we stick to a stagnant habit or routine through all the situations?
Here are some strong reasons why we should embrace discomfort:
- Remember, we have only two options, that is, to – ‘Go’ through life or ‘Grow’ through life! We’ll know what we’re capable of, only when we take risks. We pay a heavy price for our fear of failure, and that price is the wastage of tremendous potential for lifelong growth and transformation. Embracing discomfort may lead to some failures, but failures make a man learn much more than the success does. Only then he grows to harness the failure to achieve a bigger success!
- Challenging self can unleash peak performance. Believe it or not, with a little anxiety, the human spirit is evoked to rise up to the occasion. Push your boundaries!
- Discomfort enhances the creativity, which is innately risky. It exposes us to vulnerability and many possible rejections. But, taking that risk of rejection can increase the possibility of an unexpected path-breaking invention.
Now, how do we embrace discomfort?
All we need is strong will and faith. We can start small and slow, such that stepping in the discomfort does not seem intimidating. Most importantly, we need to be persistent with our efforts. One day the discomfort will subside and it’ll become our new comfort zone!
As Mr. Louie Chapman says – “Understand that we need the downs to create the ups, and the ups to create the downs. We need to fill these opposites to understand the full reality of life.” So, let us not be afraid of getting out of the nutshell and take up all the challenges we can to actually grow up, not just physically!