What’s better, a warm blanket and tea on a cold day or staying under the blankets until late on the weekend?
Tough call right. It can be hard to pick the best of two very comfortable things.
How about this: What’s better, a warm blanket on a cold rainy day or running outside on that same cold rainy day? Or what’s better, staying under the blankets until late on the weekend or getting up at 5am on the weekend to drive your ass to the gym and lift some weights.
Unless you’re trying to be a smart ass (like I would have) these choices are probably a lot easier to make. Of course the more comfortable one is the one we are going to choose. This is because our bodies crave comfort, it’s in our nature. In fact, our body (and mind) do quite a bit of work to keep us comfortable. Ironic, right?
What’s ironic is that I’m writing this on a cold, rainy day where all I want to do is go lay on the couch with a blanket and a warm drink! Seriously, before I put the first word down on this page I was considering doing it from the couch under a blanket. Ahh good times. Anyway, moving on!
The truth is our body has pretty complex systems to help us stay comfortable externally and internally.
– We have pain receptors all over our body to avoid getting hurt.
– We can compensate during an injury so that we don’t feel the pain.
– We vomit to expel things out of our body when somethings not right.
– We sweat when we are too warm and shiver when we are too cold.
– Our heart rate goes up when our muscles need more oxygen and we release powerful hormones when we’re scared to get us out of there!
Our body has many wonderful processes to maintain homeostasis at any given time. homeostasis is the “state of steady internal conditions maintained by living things”, according to wikipedia. The idea is to maintain optimal conditions for our systems to function.
This is how we manage heat, blood sugar levels, heart rate, blood pressure, hormone levels, energy levels, cellular fluid levels, pH levels and on and on and on. Any time our body gets out of it’s optimal range in any of these systems, it jumps into action to bring us back to normal. To regain homeostasis. In a sense, to bring us back to being comfortable.
However, even though our body loves comfort, nature doesn’t. The longer something stays comfortable, the less likely it is to survive. This is the simple concept of “survival of the fittest”.
In nature, the strongest things are the ones that can overcome the most adversity. The things that thrive the most are the ones that overcame the most challenges. Trees and plants get taller, grow more leaves and deeper roots. Animals get stronger, faster and create incredible ways to protect themselves from predators.
The more they get challenged the stronger and more able to thrive they become. Things that aren’t challenged don’t get stronger and don’t survive. In a sense, the more uncomfortable they get, the more likely they are to survive.
The same is true with us. Although it feels good and our body constantly seeks to have more comfort, it’s one of the worst things for us. If we stay comfortable, we get weak. In a very physical sense because our muscles won’t grow, but also in a physiological sense where the systems of homeostasis become less efficient at doing their job. The more we stay comfortable, the less likely we are to survive.
To be able to go beyond surviving and reach the point of thriving, we need to spend less time being comfortable. In this day and age we actually need to seek and push ourselves to be uncomfortable. To be cliche:
– We need to get comfortable with uncomfortable.
– Comfort is the enemy of progress.
– Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
If you’ve been avoiding workouts because you don’t like the discomfort in your body, or you’d rather hit that snooze button than head to the gym or go out for the run, then know that you’re living a life of comfort.
If you have goals and you do want to thrive (and I’d bet money you do if you’re reading this) then you have to get past the body’s need to be comfortable. Nothing great comes from comfort so if you want more for yourself you’re going to have to go to uncomfortable places.
I hope with this knowledge you can smile the next time you’re faced with the more difficult options I set out above. Smile in the fact that you know it’s the discomfort in choosing the harder thing that will actually lead you to your best life!
What’s your next step to get uncomfortable?