Being Uncomfortable



We all enjoy being comfortable. From the lie in in a warm bed, to the secure job, to a beautiful home we cling to the feeling of being comfortable.  We seek comfort in challenging times. I mentioned before the apple turnovers of youth, the warm, sugary flaky pastry of youth. Now it is the comfort of the fine wine as an older man. It is very hard for most of us to celebrate being ‘uncomfortable’.

In travel terms we have seen the evolution of categories of flying ….first, business, premium economy, club etc. etc.… all appealing to that need to avoid the feeling of discomfort.

Regardless of class I still hate flying. I’ve gone through periods of varying discomfort with it but fundamentally I’d choose most forms of transport over it. A summer of travelling by train and boat has reminded me of how much of a chore flying by air has become, weight limits, security, fast track, boarding passes, delays etc. Inflight plastic meals, more channels than we can consume and cabins that feel cold no matter where we are flying from and to. I will do it because it is a necessity to see the world but I don’t enjoy ‘it’, merely the sense that at any point I’m closer to where I want to be than where I started.

Even with the most ‘comfortable’ of travel experiences we are taking ourselves out of our comfort zone and that to me is a good thing about travel because when I return things are less uncomfortable. Most importantly for me:

The distance between where we leave comfortable, the journey through where we ‘are uncomfortable’ and coming out the other side is a soft space of growth and ultimately happiness.

Travel has always thrown me to places that are not comfortable. On a trip to Australia I landed miles off course after a balloon ride in Brisbane in a field with a basket full of screaming Korean women, in Thailand I rode the back of a bike that turned out to be the rubbish truck and was lucky not to lose a foot or leg, in Turkey I had a meltdown during the London Olympics opening ceremony, in Granada I stayed in the equivalent of a monk’s cell with no air conditioning in the middle of summer. Travel forces us out of our comfort zone and offers us a lesson more generally in dealing with those times we are uncomfortable. After all, life has a habit of rocking us out of our comfort zone in far greater ways than any temporary travel experiences. But life and travel has taught me the benefits of these uncomfortable places

  • I learn a lot about myself when things become uncomfortable. Things I was previously unaware of, things that irk me. With some reflection, it can lead to a knowledge of why that is, what the nature of the discomfort is, who I am as a person. The insight offered in a period of difficulty or being uncomfortable is often enlightening and a great starting place for personal growth. In short there is sometimes something to celebrate in the times we are uncomfortable.
  • Which is why we should sometimes just sit with being uncomfortable. It’s natural to moan about it, want to run from it or to find something to numb the pain…pass me another cocktail. Sometimes in doing the latter we create more problems than the original discomfort we have. Sitting and accepting the times we are uncomfortable offers us the opportunity to take something positive from the most challenging in experiences. In short it offers the opportunity to…
  • Grow– what was uncomfortable years ago is not so uncomfortable now, what we think we can’t cope with we do. Being uncomfortable is training for life, it is a chance to recognise strength far greater than we thought we had and to use it to prepare us for the challenges ahead

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