Why Discomfort Is Good for You

Think you have big goals? Think again. Several years ago, I read an article in Wired magazine about a long-distance runner named Dean Karnazes.

A Man Running in the Desert - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/skodonnell, Image #7572215

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/skodonnell

Get this:

  • He ran fifty marathons in fifty states on fifty consecutive days.
  • He once ran 350 miles in three days—without stopping and with no sleep.

  • He’s run the Badwater Ultramarathon seven times. It starts in Death Valley, 250 feet below sea level and concludes, 135 miles later, halfway up Mt. Whitney, at 8,360 feet. He won the race in 2004 on his fifth attempt.
  • He runs 100 to 170 miles a week.
  • He couldn’t find time to run 4–6 hours a day, so he began sleeping less. He currently only sleeps four hours a night.
  • His resting heart rate is 39 beats per minute!

I was so inspired by the article, I bought his book, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All Night Runner and devoured it. I then made a commitment to run my first ever half marathon. I have run one per year ever since.

In another interview in Outside magazine, Dean makes an important point that many of us have forgotten:

Western culture has things a little backwards right now. We think that if we had every comfort available to us, we’d be happy. We equate comfort with happiness. And now we’re so comfortable we’re miserable. There’s no struggle in our lives. No sense of adventure. We get in a car, we get in an elevator, it all comes easy. What I’ve found is that I’m never more alive than when I’m pushing and I’m in pain, and I’m struggling for high achievement, and in that struggle I think there’s a magic.

This rings true for me. I think there are three reasons why you and I should embrace discomfort, whether we deliberately choose it, or it simply happens to us.

  1. Comfort is overrated. It doesn’t lead to happiness. It makes us lazy—and forgetful. It often leads to self-absorption, boredom, and discontent.
  2. Discomfort is a catalyst for growth. It makes us yearn for something more. It forces us to change, stretch, and adapt.
  3. Discomfort is a sign we’re making progress. You’ve heard the expression, “no pain, no gain.” It’s true! When you push yourself to grow, you will experience discomfort.

A few weeks ago, I started participating in a Pilates class with Gail. It sounded easy enough. Boy, was I wrong. It has proven to be incredibly challenging. I hurt when I am doing it, and I am sore afterwards.

But that’s the very reason I love it. I feel like I am making progress and becoming stronger with each class.

The bottom line is this: you can either be comfortable and stagnate or stretch yourself—become uncomfortable—and grow. You may think that comfort leads to happiness. It doesn’t. Happiness comes from growth and feeling like you are making progress.

Question: Where are you uncomfortable in your life right now? In what way could this be a sign you are growing? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Ms Joannekhoo

    Hi Michael, I started reading your blog about 2 weeks ago and I found it to be very inspiring.  I’ve already spent several hours devouring your articles. I just want to say, thanks for writing!

    When I was in school, I was part of scouts. I’m female but it was the first year, they allowed girls to join the boys scouts. I remembered the torture and the pain. I remember the sleepless nights where we almost starved because we couldnt get the fire started. (we were not allowed lighters. Only 3 matches each). We spent the nights building equipments made out of logs. That is after tracking for 8 hours. Slept for 3/4 hours before having to get up, run in the middle of the forest and then doing pushups by the cold river at 4 am.

    Thinking back, it was pretty crazy for a 12/13 year old. But that uncomfortable experience have left a mark on me for life.

    I remember feeling alive. Especially being surrounded by nature. It was a sensational feeling =)

    With your question right now: I’m feeling uncomfortable with my career path. I might be embarking on a career path with a pretty huge learning curve. But I know that with God’s strength, his grace, focus and hard work, I’ll pull through and be extremely grateful for the experience in a year’s and a half time.

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

      Great story!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, great story. Thanks also for your kind words!

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Sounds like basic training/boot camp. A certain pride arises from enduring tough times. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • http://sevensentences.com Geoff Talbot

      Great story Ms Joannekhoo,

      Recently my wife spent 22 hours in a drug free labor as we introduced our son Gabriel to this wild world.

      At any point she could have given up, taken the easy option and had an elective c- section. But she didn’t, she battled on, doing the best she could for our child. It was extraordinary to watch.

      Looking back on it now, through the pain, the tears, the blood, we now hold the most amazing little boy.

      She endured and bought our son into the world, by overcoming her own fears. What a legacy! What a story?

      Thanks to you and Michael for sharing!

      Blessings

      Geoff Talbot
      Read Words of Encouragement here

      • Joannekhoo

        Yes, definitely a legacy. I deeply respect women who go through a drug free labor.

        And congrats on your son’s arrival into our crazy world.

  • http://www.godsabsolutelove.com Patricia Zell

    Right now, I have so many things on my plate that I feel like a juggler. However, that’s not a bad feeling because the joy of accomplishment keeps me going. Every day, I ask God for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, and I constantly remind myself that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

  • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

    I have seen this to be very true for me recently.

    In June, I decided I was going to take a leap and start a blog about how I am attempting to integrate my Christian faith into my business (auto dealerships).  I have been working on this integration for close to eight years now, but I felt I had reached a point of stagnation.  I felt starting the blog would change that.

    Well, I was right!  I instantly learned that I knew nothing about html, hosting, themes, etc.  I thought I would pick it up easily because I have always been pretty good with computers.  Instead, it took me much longer to get the hang of it (your posts helped a lot!)…I was very uncomfortable, but I pressed through it and launched my blog in late August!  I am still uncomfortable with this at times, but I am growing.  So is the blog!

    I have also found that the blog has forced me to constantly think about the topic – using my business as a ministry platform.  I cannot (nor want to) escape the constant thoughts of what my next post will cover!  I am always seeing post ideas in the happenings around me.

    As a result, I have started stretching my comfort zone in the ways I bring faith to our workplace.  We have organized a team of key people that is charged with strategically planning how we will do ministry through the business.  We have made more progress in the past three months than we made all of last year!  It is indeed working!

    My most recent “stretch” was to run a TV ad from now to Christmas that acknowledges Jesus as “our most precious gift” and “the very Son of God” and wishes our customers and community a Merry Christmas.  I posted about it here…

    http://christianfaithatwork.com/why-acknowledge-christ-in-christmas/ 

    Thank you for your contribution to my growth!  Your blog is stretching me!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Excellent, Chris. I love that ad, too. Very bold, especially in an age of political correctness!

      • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

        Thanks! I am looking forward (anxiously) to the various responses from our customers.
        Chris Patton

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

      Very cool! I am going to check out your blog now…

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

      Just read your Christmas post! You have an awesome site!

      • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

        Wow, Brandon.  Thanks!  I am still learning (both about the site AND the content), but I am enjoying the experience.

        My ultimate goal is to lead other business owners and leaders to do the same thing (content, not necessarily the blog).

        Thanks for visiting!

        • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

          Awesome! It is a great ministry. Keep up the great work!

          _____

          • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

            Thanks Brandon!

    • Jrbdanish58

      Chris, where in Georgia is your dealership?

      • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

        LaGrange, GA

        It is roughly one hour south of the Atlanta airport on I-85 (headed toward Montgomery, AL).

        • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

          Cool!

    • http://www.livesimplylove.com/ Merritt

      Love your blog Chris and was encouraged to read your Christmas post. I’m a new blogger too and really struggled with the technical side, but getting help from others made all the difference. 

      Keep it up! Are you on Twitter? I’d love to follow you and your blog progress that way, if it’s an option. 

      • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

        Merritt, thanks for the kind words!

        I am sorry, but I am not yet on Twitter. I hope to get to that soon!

        Thanks for reading.

        • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

          I am currently lost on Twitter. Like the blog idea, it’s a learning process. I’ve run into a glitch and haven’t taken the time to figure it out. I’ll blame it on Christmas. :-)

          • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

            What are you going to do in January?

          • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

            Scuba diving? Write the next great American novel? Take up belly-dancing? Saturate myself with wall-to-wall coverage of the NFL playoffs?

            So now you’ve given me a good laugh. We’re even.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      And you do keep your focus clear on your blog. I appreciate what you share.

      • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

        Thanks Tom. I am enjoying it!

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    I really liked Dean’s quote on how Western culture has a lot of things backwards. The desire for comfort and stability has slowly been destroying us.

    And I think that is where I’m uncomfortable. I see all of the comforts we have and yet yearn for more. I want to feel a struggle, I want to fight for something that is worth fighting for, to push myself past comfort.

    I feel like this is helping me grow away from material things and more towards an experienced based life. One that I am able to share with others.

  • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

    Sounds like the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

      definitely!

  • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

    This post also reminds me of a book I read recently called The Heart and the Fist by Eric Greitens, a U.S. Navy SEAL and humanitarian.  He describes the strong desire to feel alive in struggling against a challenge.  If you have not read the book, I strongly recommend it.  I cannot do it justice here!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That sounds great. I just added it to my Amazon Wish List.

      • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

        By the way, what is the wishlist good for? Is it just to let others know what you want? I’ve always wondered…

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          For me, it’s just a place to store a link to the books that I might want to buy later. I’m not ready to buy them yet, but I want them in my queue.

          • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

            Gotcha! By the way, I saw your book that is coming out in may on amazon. You can reorder it! I see you went with the awesome title that I voted for! :)

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

      That sounds interesting!

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    Running this much can’t be good for the knees. 

    • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

      Agreed!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Knee paid doesn’t usually come from running, but from something else—improper form, bad shoes, etc.

      • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

        Improper form and bad shoes are certainly part of it, and some people’s knees may be more resilient than other people’s.

        However, there’s also the theory—which, alas, presupposes a belief in evolution rather than the assumption that humans have arrived fully formed in God’s likeness—that the human race hasn’t been walking upright long enough for our knees to have had a chance to catch up and become strong enough to support our full body weight throughout our life times (especially now that the average human life span extends well into the 70s, 80s and beyond) even without the added strain from spending exorbitant amounts of time running.

        This may be related to the fact that shoe sizes keep getting bigger from generation to generation, since now that we’re upright, human feet are getting larger to afford better balance relative to our height. (When you’re walking on all fours, the size of your soles has no bearing on your balance. When you’re upright, the bigger your soles, the more stable you are.)

        I guess the only way to find out if running does long-term damage to one’s knees is to run a lot and see what happens.

        • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

          I guess the only way to find out if running does long-term damage to one’s knees is to run a lot and see what happens.

          Or you could do studies on it…

  • http://perichoreticlife.blogspot.com/ Michael Thompson

    The follow up question (as someone who has run a marathon before) is what will be the long term damage to his body. Is it worth it if he can’t even walk a few years from now and/or ends up with a heart condition as it becomes enlarged? Big goals are great, but be careful what you ask for.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Knee damage doesn’t usually come from running itself but from improper form (e.g., heel striking) or bad shoes.

      • http://perichoreticlife.blogspot.com/ Michael Thompson

        I fully understand that, but that kind of distance doesn’t allow your body to repair especially if you are only sleeping 4 hours per night. (And I don’t get me started on how unhealthy not getting sleep is.) I guess I am reacting because if you had put a size one model up there for women to attain to, everyone would know that it was a poor choice of example. Being a runner, I think you’ve done the same thing. I’m all for the motivational story, but this is a “size one” example. We should NOT attain to this, but instead be more discerning about our own calling. I’m all for excellence, but not at the expense of personal responsibility to one’s self and family.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          It’s really interesting. I have no interest in duplicating what he has done. It just inspires me to pursue my own calling more intently.

        • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

          Michael T., your point is good although Michael H.’s example doesn’t discourage me from running marathons. I do that without any help. But your comments make me think a little deeper about specifics–where do I avoid discomfort to my detriment and where do I embrace it for my benefit?

          • http://perichoreticlife.blogspot.com/ Michael Thompson

            Again, I have no issue with running marathons (I’ve done it before) and I very much appreciate motivation to excel. My issue is with 50 marathons in 50 days and other excesses. Both physically and emotionally I have to question how healthy it really is in the long run (pun intended).

          • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

            Thanks for the laugh just before heading off to bed. A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.

            So, I’ll promise not to do 50 marathons in 50 days if you will. Deal?

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

      True! I am sure that it is good for you, but anything out of moderation is bad…

  • http://www.frymonkeys.com Alan Kay

    Thanks Michael, I completely agree with your discomfort insight. The reason N Americans (and Europeans) are in economic trouble is that we’ve forgotten that the world has become a competitive place. Our comfort with our achievements has led us to not notice the BRIC countries have learned to compete with us based on low cost labour, and soon with well-educated citizens.   
    How we manage our discomfort with this situation at the personal and collective level will be important. Our discomfort needs to be about creating a refreshed and reframed purpose and role. It’s not about going back. 
    Nike’s line is ‘Just do it’. I suggest we might use the line, ‘Do something different – now’    

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

      And because we have forsaken God’s standards…

      If the government would have followed God’s principles for spending and finances over the years, we would not be in the mess we are today.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Alan, I think you head us in the right direction. I’m also reminded of the fact that we sacrifice tomorrow by putting today on credit (so we aren’t uncomfortable while we watch the NFL on our 60″ HDTV from our padded perch). Even if we try to live comfortable lives, we can’t. The bill (whether it’s physical health, spiritual condition, or our credit card) comes due and brings great discomfort with it.

  • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

    Raising four children, ages 4-7, is a bit uncomfortable.  I know I’m growing though because I continue to learn more about them, support them, and encourage them in faith.

    I’m committed to showing up everyday.

  • http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/ Joey Espinosa

    I’m definitely being stretched in my ministry opportunities, as we work in the most impoverished area in our state. I resigned from my 1 part-time job, and will start the year with 4 part-time jobs (http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/2011/12/16/job-coaching/), not including the 2 or 3 things that we will volunteer in.

    The hardest part is saying “NO” to several opportunities. We want to do so much more, but know that that is not possible, or healthy.

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

      true

  • http://russpond.com Russ Pond

    So true. There are many things in life that don’t come easy. It takes hard work, perseverance and discipline to achieve them. I agree that our culture is one of comfort and laziness. It’s one of the reasons why our country is very unhealthy. Life is easy here.

    Last year, I did my first ever half Ironman triathlon. The training was very hard. Six days a week, I had to push myself. But, on race day, I finished the race and the feeling was incredibly overwhelming. One of the most memorable moments in my life.

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

      I agree that our culture is one of comfort and laziness. It’s one of the reasons why our country is very unhealthy.

      That’s what it has come down to, unfortunately!

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Congratulations. Are you planning another one?

      • http://russpond.com Russ Pond

        Thanks! Yes, I’m planning to do a couple more half Ironman’s in 2012 with my wife. My “before 50″ goal is to finish a full Ironman. Right now, that just seems crazy!

        • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

          Having goals helps us realize our dreams. I’m shooting for cycling coast-to-coast within the next two years. Cycling is my preferred means of exercise. I think it has something to do with a faster means of getting from here to there.

          • http://russpond.com Russ Pond

            Great goal! My wife has that on her list of things to do as well. I just can’t figure out how to take that much time off work. :)

          • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

            Oh, yeah, I meant to wish you well on your goal. I don’t expect to know when you accomplish it but would love to hear anyway. That’s always encouraging to know when someone’s fulfilled a life dream.

          • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

            Tom, if that “cycle” has a motor on it, then I am in for a coast to coast run!

          • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

            A car dealer who rides a Harley? I don’t know. Nope, it’s pedal power or nothing (and, so far, it’s nothing).

          • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

            I never said Harley!

            I am a “Honda” dealer and therefore ride a Honda (that looks and sounds like a Harley!).

          • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

            My bad! I ride a Trek 14-speed and a Dawes 27-speed so you would blow my non-doors off either way. But you are welcome to roar on down the road with me anytime (I’ll just be a bit behind from time to time).

  • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

    I am uncomfortable with the thought of moving out of home in the next season. But I know that God is in it! I am scared but I am also excited. I’m praying for the capacity to thrive in this next season.

    • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

      This blog post is a timely one for me. I’ve saved it as a bookmark so I can read it tomorrow morning as well

  • Rick Smith

    Great post. I had the same feeling of comfort a few years ago. Sold my business, had a few successful books. Cush. Then on a dare from my kids I signed up for the big sur marathon, having only run 3 miles in distance before. Brutal, and wouldn’t recommend jumping that far off the deep end (2nd hardest marathon in US), but great for me. Changed my life. That doesn’t happen in your comfortable office.

    • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

      Way to go!

  • http://twitter.com/KellyCombs Kelly Combs

    Discomfort makes me uncomfortable.  (*smile*) But I really like the principle.  My husband has been working on his masters in theology for the past year.  Nevermind he already has a masters in engineering, runs his own engineering firm and is busy with family life.  He studies for 2 hours after the rest of us go to bed, and then gets up at 4 am to study before the rest of us get up.  He sleeps 4-5 hours a night, like Dean.

    It take real motivation and self-discipline to make these things happen.  I admire those who accept the discomfort and grow. Now I need to imitate them.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      What a great story. Kudos to your husband—and to you for supporting him.

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

      That’s really cool!

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      I can get up for early-morning basketball (I embrace that discomfort) but to study? That really is uncomfortable. Great commitment on his part. I appreciate reading of your support as well.

    • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

      Wow!  Amazing story.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Great post, Michael. I’ve gone through a lot of changes this year. Change can be uncomfortable because of the unknown. So many times the fear of change is actually much more painful than the change itself.

    One of the most uncomfortable things in life is rejection. Having met a lot of struggling authors over the past few years, I would say that the writing profession can be very uncomfortable at times. To get that 25th rejection letter in the mail does not make for a happy day. Thankfully with self publishing, there are alternatives.

    • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

      I agree John that the fear can be so much worse at times than the actual event.  Our minds have a way of blowing things out of proportion!

      However as an author trying to get an agent, my mind doesn’t have to blow anything up…the fear is real as are the rejections.  But with each one I endeavor to learn and to  try harder!   This is growing not only my writing skills and perseverance, but also my faith in God. 

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Amen to the struggle in the writing profession. Even with self publishing, you face the fear of rejection–Will people actually read my novel? What will readers say? How will they respond?

      I brace myself for both good reviews and bad. The reality is that either is better than indifference.

  • http://www.timemanagementninja.com Craig Jarrow

    Michael,

    Wow… you and are on the same wavelength today!

    My post today is titled, “Stop Being Comfortable and Start Being Motivated.” ;) 
    http://tmninja.us/vYWOKc

    I think too often we get comfortable and then we just get stagnant. We start to accept our comfort for our new normal.

    That is how people justify staying in bad jobs, abusive relationships, and even poor health.

    You can change your life… but you have to go through “uncomfortable” to get there.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It must have been some ether in the blogosphere!

      • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

        :)

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Yep, you two are all into “uncomfortable” talk.

  • Alan Spies

    Hello Michael.  Your blog today really hit home with me.  In fact, God convicted me this morning about my intense need for comfort and control.  As a fellow marathon runner, I recently experienced my personal record and as I reflected on it, I was reminded of my past struggles in previous races.  The difference this time…….training and discipline, both of which are extremely hard for me.

    This reflects my spiritual walk as well.  You see, I want to attain the prize without the work.  It would be similar to wanting to run a marathon with little to no training.  In my walk with Jesus, I want his blessings but am not interested in the sufferings.  So, as you might imagine, when the training gets rough, I want to give up as my desire for comfort and control is incredibly strong. 

    Recently, I started reading the book, “Not a Fan.”  I highly recommend it.  One of my favorite quotes from the book states, “A servant works for someone; a slave is owned by someone.”  The truth is moving from a servant to a slave of Jesus is so contrary to my modus operandi.  As such, the struggles have been rough.  However, as I strive to embrace the pain and training, I have found immense freedom.

    As scripture says, “iron sharpens iron.”  That process involves friction and it is only through the friction that we are sharpened. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I want to read Not a Fan. You are about the fifth person to mention it to me. I just added it to my Amazon Wish List.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        Well worth the purchase!

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

        So how long is that list getting?

  • http://twitter.com/blacknewfie Peter Walters

    Michael, thanks for the post.  I think the quote is great.  I am  putting it in my illustration file.  We have been sold a “Bill of Goods” that comfort equals happiness.  None of us buy biographies because we want to read about someone who is comfortable.  We want to read about the overcoming of obstacles.  I don’t like to be uncomfortable any more than the other guy but I do realize that the confidence I have today is because of the uncomfortable situations I was in yesterday.  

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Exactly! I am reading Unbroken, which is a great book about a POW in WWII. Talk about discomfort!

      • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

        sounds like a good book, I’m adding it to my wish list!

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          Ditto

        • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

          There’s that wish list thing again. :-)

  • Mike B

    I am uncomfortable in a few areas of my life right now

    1)  I race road bicycles on an amateur level.  I train and train.  I train in 30F degree weather with wind gusts of 15+mph which makes a cold  The amount of pain we put ourselves through to simulate racing conditions is unreal.  Intervals – You make your body build a tolerance and increase the tolerance for lactic acid buildup.   When you think your body is done, you have to keep pushing forward. 

    2)  Running – I have been training for my first ever marathon.  I was 8 weeks into my 18 week training program only to run into patella femoral syndrome in my left knee.  I had went through a handful of running shoes only to find my form was incorrect.  I also ramped up too quickly – too fast too soon, too long too hard.

    3)  My walk with the Lord – I face challenges in my life.  There are things that have unremained unsettled in my life.  I havent forgiven myself of sins I have done in my past which makes me very uncomfortable.  On the flipside, my relationship with the Lord has (in my opinion) improved so much.  I dont just read scripture, I live it.  It shows.  I just dont show it to show it.  It has become a part of me.  Where I am in my life now, I see myself facing those demons of my past.  I hope that day comes where I have forgiven myself to ask for forgiveness from those people that I have hurt.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Except that you left out swimming, I’d figure you were preparing for an Ironman competition.

      From your three examples, you sound like an intense “I’m-all-in-or-I’m-all-out” kind of guy. I am reminded of Jesus’ words to the lukewarm church in Ephesus. “I would rather you be hot or cold…” Sounds like you’re anything but lukewarm. That’s great!

  • Benstacygoodman

    I agree with the “no pain no gain” philosophy, but i wonder if this runner may be harming himself long term by letting his obsession overpower his need for sleep and potentially limiting his relationships with the non-runners in his life.

    • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

      He’s definitely at the extreme!

  • http://twitter.com/Juanbg Juan

    Nice article Mike, so true seems we have to pay a price for success. Success comes by really working hard.

  • Agatha Nolen

    Michael,
    Right on target. I heard Naomi Tutu (daughter of Desmond Tutu) say before a trip to South Africa, “I want to make you uncomfortable. When you are uncomfortable you become indignant about injustices in the world and passionate about making changes to help restore God’s kingdom.” That is a good enough reason for me to embrace being uncomfortable. I heard a sermon on this topic in March and wrote a short blog about it at http://www.agathanolen.com/journal/comfort-the-false-god.html. I’d welcome your feedback.
    Agatha

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Agatha, thanks for sharing the quote. That got clipped and put in the Evernote. Also appreciate the repeated message about being uncomfortable. I guess the Lord wants me to understand how important discomfort and change are so He’s repeated it three times.

  • Jennyfer_Ann

    A year ago, I had a good life : great job, nice appartment, great family. But over the last year I have found myself struggling with panic attacks. Not good at 30! I was unable to eat for over 3 months. But it gave the motivation I lacked in the past : I’m now changing career for my passion (I’ll go from administration professional to horseback riding coach), training for a half-marathon and writing a book. I have been miserable for a year but now, I feel better then ever. I guess I needed it! 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Change is always tough. It sounds like you are ending up in a better place.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matthewsbc Ben Matthews

    Great article.  Throughout athletics, my time as a Marine Corps officer, and in the professional world, your words certainly hold true.  We learn significantly more about ourselves and our teams through adversity and discomfort.  Where there is no discomfort, there is no growth.  Simply put, “growth implies pain”.  

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Ben, I am reminded of my time in the army (since you bring up the USMC) and the challenge of going from civilian to serviceman. For some reason, it’s your comments that remind me that adversity and discomfort have to also have purpose. Add to that accomplishment as well. Without purpose or a sense of accomplishment, adversity and discomfort just plain suck. Overcoming them allows competency to grow.

  • Ken

    So true! We avoid discomfort at a very high cost to the quality of life.

    • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

      Good insight, Ken.

  • Henry Fawell

    Very true. As an entrepreneur, I try to live by the maxim that life begins at the edge of your comfort zone. — Henry Fawell

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Good statement! Things get exciting once the roller coaster clears the summit.

  • Jeffkeady

    Now this was a great post! How challenging and inspiring on a Monday morning! Thanks Mike!

  • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

    My current discomfort or “stretching” as I like to call it is related to how I spend and prioritize my time.  I have so many hobbies and interests.  I want to make sure my God, my wife, and my family take priority when it comes to my focus.  I wrote about it today at my blog.  I’m convinced the discomfort is well worth it.  I’m processing how to make sure God and my family remain a top priority in my time, energy, and attention.

    Thanks, by the way, for the book recommendation.  I’ve read several articles about Dean Karnazes over the years.  As a runner, his story is definitely intriguing.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      I’m in the same boat.  Loved your article on this by the way…

      I am seeing some help in the fact that I developed a Life Plan and am giving a copy to my wife and to my accountability partner.

      • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

        That’s a great idea (Life Plan)!  Do you know where I can find out about developing one?  :)

        I like that you gave a copy to your wife and your accountability partner.

        • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

          Mr. Hyatt did write an ebook on it… You can download it by becoming an email subscriber…

          • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

            I took care of that yesterday.  Thanks for the suggestion!

          • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

            Awesome! So did I! haha

            _____

          • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

            I knew Mr. Hyatt had this available, but I hadn’t taken the time to download it.  The prompting of this post was a great reminder.

          • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

            That is the same with me!

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          Ha!  Funny guy….

      • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

        I actually just downloaded the Creating A Life Plan ebook from this site!

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          I’ve been using mine for almost a year now.  Extremely helpful.

  • Do

    Hi Michael,
    I love that you have brought up the topic of struggle. As a Human Behaviour Consultant I work with many parents who jump through hoops to make sure their kids don’t have to ‘work’ to achieve their goals. LMFAO’s song lyrics  “Pain is bad” makes me cringe. When my kids are spotted raking leaves in the neighborhood and actually bagging them, this causes cars to slow down and stare. There is actually a brain chemistry involved when we do have to adapt to our very difficult situations in life (loss of a cat, not been chosen for the team/university, etc ) and tears need to take place in order to prime the adaptive process. This is why it is sooo important that children be allowed to cry, feel vulnerable and have someone to hold them in their sadness. It keeps kids soft, where teachings and love can get in and primes their developmental needs to adapt to the curve balls life throws at them.
    Thanks for this,
    Debbie
    http://www.lincconsult.com

    • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

      I agree Do.  I think kids need to learn how to make lemonade out of the lemons life sometimes gives us.  I think they are losing some valuable life lessons by not experiencing the pain of having to work hard for something.  

  • Amy Hunt

    As a runner, I totally get this. Yet, last June I chose to do something very challenging for me. I embarked upon a 100-push-up goal. At the time, I could only muster two-sets of five (each!). It was a mental and emotional challenge more than physical, but eventually I got there–at first progressing forward, then seeming to level off, and then going backward…a reflection of life’s season of busy, our workouts ebb and flow, too. Eventually I got there–to 100 push-ups three times a week–and have stayed here for two months. It took a whole lot of effort and I am incredibly proud of my perseverance and trust that God would give me the strength to overcome the mental challenge. Now, I don’t want to take time off because I’m so afraid I’ll atrophy–it was so much work and I don’t want to start all over again. It’s the best motivation I’ve ever had! 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have thought about doing that, too. Have you seen the 100 sit-up and 100 pull-up challenges? Those are also intriguing.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Intriguing challenge. I play basketball in the early AM and know what you mean by regression. At my age (yeah, I’ll blame it on that), I can’t afford to miss many days or else I end up huffing and puffing a lot more than I care to admit. Christmas break means ten days away from the court (we play at the local high school). I suppose I can take up your 100-pushup challenge (plus, heaven forbid, run some).

  • http://www.jennajeske.com Jenna Jeske

    I am very uncomfortable in my financial life right now, but this is a good thing.  My husband and I are living on very little so that we can follow Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball plan to pay off all of our student loan debt within the next 2 years.  It is difficult and uncomfortable constantly saying no to invitations from family and friends, but it will be worth it in the long run. 

    • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

      I understand where you are coming from, but in the end it will be worth it!  Hang in there, I know it can be tough this time of year.  There are so many Christmas parties and things tempting us to blow our budgets…not much longer and at least the Christmas shopping pressure will be over. 

      My husband and I can’t afford much this year, but we are actually happier than ever.  We have each other and we are focusing on the true meaning of Christmas.  It’s surprising how much more fulfilling this year is than in the past.  

      • http://www.jennajeske.com Jenna Jeske

        Thanks for your encouragement! It is cool to hear from someone else who is doing the same thing! And you are right – this year has been a lot more fulfilling for us also.

        • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

          You’re welcome, Merry Christmas!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Kudos to you. It will absolutely be worth it. You are buying your freedom!

      • http://www.jennajeske.com Jenna Jeske

        Thanks Michael – you are right, we are definitely buying our freedom. And thank you for your wisdom each day!

  • Ron

    Hi Michael, I just finished giving a grueling interview and was shortlisted for the second round. I experienced a lot of discomfort, as the interviewer questioned me in a completely unfamiliar fashion.

    I am feeling great, having conquered it. Your post is excellent. Please keep up the good work.

  • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

    Wonderful post!  I’ve always lived my the motto that anything worth having is worth working for. 

    Currently I am undergoing some discomfort in my personal walk with Christ, he is growing me.  It’s true that it is uncomfortable, but I am amazed as I look back and see how far he has already taken me…it’s exciting to know I am growing, I’m not sure where he is leading, but I willingly follow!  For years I was comfortable in my walk with him, I got lazy during that time and stopped communicating with him as I should.  This growth has been painful but so very necessary!  

  • http://www.facebook.com/williamjspenceriv William J. Spencer IV

    I am really out uncomfortable creating a platform for my book and speaking career.

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

      Yeah. How is your platform coming along though?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Excellent. You are on the right path!

  • Jack Lynady

    It’s the difference between living a domesticated life verses life on the frontier. Life on the frontier is hard, challenging, and unknown. But it is also where discovery, freedom, and real community exist. Nice read Michael.

  • http://twitter.com/PJC21 Paul Cahill

    Dean’s statement that “Western culture has things a little backwards right now. We think that if we had every comfort available to us, we’d be happy. We equate comfort with happiness” is quite powerful. Great reminder that we should not seek comfort first.

  • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

    I remember in high school running Cross Country. I would feel dead after each meet. My body would ache and I couldn’t really stand. That was the best feeling in the world! I knew I had given my all and I had done something to be proud of. Right now I am feeling discomfort in my ministry. There are things that are not meshing well and that is pushing me to see how to change it up, to make it all work better. It is like living an adventure every day. 

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

      I did some running a few years ago, but I haven’t had time for it recently with all this school!

      Instead, I play lots of golf!

  • http://About.me/marcmillan Marc Millan

    What an incredibly positive and encouraging post. Thank you
    Michael for sharing this with me, it has inspired me.
    M_

  • http://purposeandnow.com/ pdncoach

    This is excellent, Mike!

  • http://twitter.com/BubbaSmith BubbaSmith

    Michael!

    You should try P90X! I think you’d enjoy it!

    Doug “Bubba” Smith

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have had several people recommend that.

  • Dyaji Charles

    I needed this. Michael, thank you for sharing.

  • http://www.brantleydavidson.com Brantley Davidson

    Humbling post! Thanks for sharing and encouraging all to be intentional about pursuing individual growth!

  • Laura

    I am in pain everyday of my life.  I have to push myself to walk from one room to another. I endure the embarrassment daily, of not being able to stand at my stove to cook a meal for my family, or having someone tie my shoes or help me put my socks on because I cannot bend my legs. Yet, I firmly believe that I go through these things because God is preparing me for something greater. Everything I go through in life will be for His glory and to prepare me for the next.

    Yes, many people equate comfort with happiness. Comfort to me, is a state of mind. I am happy, despite the fact that my body is robbing me of comfort. The comfort of “things” – if only I had a new house, car, TV, etc., seems to be what I see people striving for. They believe life would be better or easier with more stuff.

    Dean said, “I’m never more alive than when I’m pushing and I’m in pain, and
    I’m struggling for high achievement, and in that struggle I think
    there’s a magic.”

    He sounds like he is punishing himself, not pushing himself! To think that this man has to create his own pain to feel alive is very sad to someone like me, who lives with severe pain on a daily basis. Yes, I agree, discomfort does make us grow. I often wonder when God will be finished with my “growing lessons” as I’ve had about all I can take. But I have come to see a purpose in the way my life has played out. God has made me push myself out of my comfort zone, in that I have to “get over” being embarrassed at needing to sit down at a speaking engagement, or to have to use a walker at my age. But, I suppose if we didn’t have these areas in our lives where we had to push ourselves we would never grow. Yes, pain is a necessary part of life, without it we would never strive to get beyond ourselves. But to deliberately push yourself until you’re in pain? I just don’t get it.

  • Scott

    This spiritually dark place doesn’t feel much like growth at first blush. When I’m willing to consider that possibility, however, my mood lightens and reminds me of God’s extravagance.

  • Lkfischer

    I spoke on this very topic of “stretching” several times now.  I have had a great response.  We use a challenge course with outside groups and encourage participants to stretch to get the most out of the experience. 

    Great post, great story! 

  • http://www.jeffvankooten.com Jeff Vankooten

    Meaninglessness in life comes not from having too much pain, but from having too much pleasure.

  • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

    Great post! I really liked the things you mentioned about the runner. The most impressive was that he went beyond the average marathon; he did the ultramarathon!

    That is just insane! Winning at the top of the mountain must be an awesome feeling!

  • http://www.UnwillingToSettle.com Greg L. Gilbert

    Great article. Saw this in my HR career. Problems rarely fixed themselves. I’ve seen a 8.5 X 11 performance inprovement plan cure attendance problems that existed for years. Michael, I follow your counsel on many items. (Just received our Kindle Fires)What does the jury (you) say on the barefoot running shoes? Still wearing them? Notice a difference in conditioning? Pain? Thanks for the articles and inspiration.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I’m actually not wearing them this winter, but I will start again in the spring. I really love them. I have three different pair, but the Vibrams are still my favorite.

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

      Thats cool!

  • http://www.ryanhanley.com/2011/11/29/how-small-business-can-leverage-social-media-to-fight-back-against-their-big-business-competitors/ Ryan Hanley

    Michael,

    I love this concept… It was actually the topic of my newsletter last month and is the theme of my first ever book titled, “Uncomfortable Success,” which will hopefully be out in the summer of 2012 on taking small business owners out of their “This is the way I’ve always done it,” mentality to embrace and succeed blogging Online.

    Not necessarily as inspirational as running 20 hours a day but in the same vein.  The concept of making yourself Uncomfortable and the growth that stems from that feeling has been an inspiration in my life.  

    I’m tackling more challenges and actively trying to change personal habits that lead to complacency…

    Great article and very timely for the coming New Year.

    Thank you!!!

  • http://www.nginaotiende.blogspot.com Ngina Otiende

    Still hung up on Dean’s tenacity, focus and achievements…WOW!

    I agree, comfort does not bring happiness..just makes us more miserable.  We are hardwired for growth and purpose – achievement.

    I come from Africa and I know for a fact that there can be great joy, happiness, warmth and life in midst of constant discomfort.  When you have fire under your seat, you cannot just settle. You work hard, become tenacious and strong, hope and faith are not an option. That is what keeps you alive, warm, appreciative, growing and grateful.

    Here in the western/developed world, I think we do need to learn how to light fires under our own seats :) . Cos no one will light it for you if you don’t.  

    Thank you for sharing Michael

  • http://twitter.com/RachelleGardner Rachelle Gardner

    Love this post, Mike. Thanks.

  • Michael

    Okay, I admit it. I didn’t run my usual three miles because I was worn out from the week. I only ran one on Saturday. I could have pushed through the discomfort and adds some gains. Seriously, good point about the need to feel discomfort and challenge in our lives. It builds character.

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Excellent input.  I just made the transition to a standup desk.  My legs and feet are feeling it, but I know that my health will benefit from it in some major ways.  And I’m starting to get back into the habit of working out/running again.  It’s been too long…

  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

    I’m learning that when I’m not uncomfortable, I’m not doing something right. I quickly ask God to show me. Though I enjoy a break to rest every now and again, He keeps me on my toes. 

    I’m currently very uncomfortable in bringing Jesus to a family of unbelievers. This Christmas may be hard and uncomfortable because God has made me bolder in my faith. 

    But there’s nothing better than being comforted by God during the uncomfortable, knowing you are doing His will. 

  • http://www.redeemchristianity.org/ Redeem Christianity

    wow that is incredibly inspiring! I love this quote – “…
    I’m never more alive than when I’m pushing and I’m in pain.”

  • http://idreamculture.com Andy

    Excellent! I just signed up for a marathon for the same reason – to break out of my comfort zone and step into something Id never thought I could do. I ran a half marathon for the first time in my life on Saturday as a training run. Im learning there is more to me than I thought!

  • Fr. Anthony Messeh

    I am a Coptic Orthodox priest in Fairfax, VA and as strange as this sounds, I just gave a sermon yesterday on almost the exact same subject.   link is below in case you’re interested [sorry, not trying to self-promote, just reinforcing the message].

    http://www.orthodoxsermons.org/sermons/gift-discomfort 

  • http://twitter.com/davidamoore David Moore

    Michael, based on your recommendation I read Don Miller’s book 10M Miles in 1M Years.  You said it was “required” reading in you mentor program and it should be.  Since then i strive to live that better story (not the volvo story).  This post re: discomfort encourages us to get out of the rut and live a better story.  2012 is going to be a great year.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I’m glad you liked Don’s book. It is still one of my very favorites.

  • http://www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com Nikole Hahn

    Boy, have you hit the nail on the head this week for me! Discomfort is when I have little of what I need for my idea of a successful ministry. Maybe that’s the discomfort I need and not the comfort.

  • http://www.turningthepage.info Barry Pearman

    Some people collect stamps, some autograph’s. I collect quotes. Here is a interesting quote. 

    The lust for comfort kills the passion of soul. Khalil Gibran

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Outstanding quote!

  • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

    I’ve been working out and trying to lose some weight (trying is the wrong word). I feel sore almost everyday now but I see the bigger picture and I can’t wait!

  • Soulsimpleone

    I have become aware of how difficult it is to communicate the hard edges of life to children growing up in an overindulged culture. How do we do this? I have four children under the age of 12 and I have worked very intentionally against indulging them… but I still find myself trying to prevent them from pain, especially with relationships. Recently I have wondered if I need to give them more space to develop broader wingspans for flying through the difficulties of friendships and school.  I read this article and think that I model avoidance under the guise of wisdom… but am I really teaching my children what they will need to face the unavoidable struggles of this life? Good read for me today. Thank you.

  • http://buyhomeblog.com Kent Faver

    Thanks Michael – Love the post, but am not impressed with this running feat.  Yes, I meant that.  People today are too obsessed and impressed with themselves.  Fact of the matter is – we are so westernly-cultured – we equate struggle with PX-90, Sexy Abs for you, and Ultra endurance with struggle. 

    Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the world-renowned running expert from Dallas, has said on numerous occassions that over-running is bad for you long term.  This gentleman’s feat makes for great reading, and bad long-term effects on his body.  And, just think of the sacrifices his family has made for him while he’s out running.  Just my two cents.  Thanks again.

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  • WMTWA

    AMEN! Discomfort also enables us to use our faith. It puts us in a place where we have not been before and that requires us to do some things we have never done before….and that results in us changing. Change is going to occur whether or not we actively participate, but when we use our faith we have some input into the shape of the change…and that’s growth.

  • http://www.struggletovictory.com Kari Scare

    There are two sayings I picked up years ago and say every so often, and I thought of them while reading this post. The first one is “You’re either green & growing or ripe and rotting,” and the second one is “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Comfort zones are dangerous places… kind of like being lukewarm.

    I am uncomfortable right now in the area of learning how to create and manage a blog. I’m also in the process of starting in a new career again, and while I love it, I feel insecure with and unsure of myself. I try to hold on to some comfortable areas though (like comfortable clothes and a comfortable home) because this allows me to be more willing to be uncomfortable in reaching out to others, if that makes any sense. (I am an introvert, so maybe it makes more sense now.)

  • http://twitter.com/CoachTheresaIF Theresa Ip Froehlich

    I have two young adult children who have bought the American gospel of comfort until we created the discomfort they needed to grow up. We required them to get out to provide for themselves.

    Michael, this article is a much needed message for the people of this country. Thank you.

  • Elizabethkitchens51

    I know what you mean! Life is rather depressing when there’s nothing challenging or adventurous to do.  Most people love stories like The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but were these pleasant journeys? Certainly not.  They involved a lot of hardship.  Yet, people read the books and wish to be part of an adventure like that.

  • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

    I have two especially challenging students in my AP English Literature and Composition class this year. Reflecting on my interactions with them has forced me to ask myself vital questions and has led me to practical metaphors.

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  • Joel Zawada

    If I am doing something that causes me intense physical pain, the most logical change to make in my life is to stop that activity.

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  • Geoff

    I am a mortgage loan officer in what many consider the worst time to be in the business.  This is an area of life that causes much discomfort…financial and emotional.  I do agree, anything worth working towards does not come without any pain.  I have a disabiled son of 23 that has to deal with more physical and social pain than I will ever deal with.   Thanks for your blog…
    Geoff

  • Embracing discomfort

    Thank you for this post, it is exactly where I am at in life. DISCOMFORT!! I am twenty-two and just moved out if my parents house for the first time. Not only did I move out, I moved four hours away from all my family and friends. I got a great job opportunity, one that will really allow me to grow in my field as an ultrasonographer. But with this opportunity does come discomfort. I have a new home, a new job, a new church, and have to make new friends. I feel like I have to start all over. It’s uncomfortable but Iwouldn’t change my decision for the world.

  • Paulallen230

    Michael, I am amazed by the stamina of Dean and what he has done. Your conclusion “Get comfortable, stagnate or stretch yourself” rings a positive bell in me.  However, I raise a flag of concern for Dean, and hence maybe (unsure) see Dean as an extreme example of ‘stagnate or stretch’.  I assume he is a single man because this appears to have taken over his life.  I could be wrong on this. I also hope he is not an obsessive compulsive type and has a healthy BMI.   I wish him well.

  • http://www.livesimplylove.com/ Merritt

    Michael, I totally agree with the running analogy. It is the BEST feeling to push through the discomfort and get to the finish line, blisters and all! (BTW, have you read “Born to Run”? If not, it needs to be your next read!)

    I guess my discomfort…though not as severe as long-distance running…is in pursuing creativity in my work (freelance writing) and my blog (on marriage). 

    I’ve gone for years doing just enough to get by but not really fighting the “resistance” to be brave and produce content regardless of my desire to people-please. It’s a long road, but I feel like the discomfort HAS been good for me and progress has been made, even in just the last year.

    Thanks for this great, thought-provoking post! And keep running! :)

  • http://www.julietaustin.com Juliet Austin

    Sometimes I’m comfortable, sometimes I’m not. I think balance is the key. Sometimes being comfortable is the best thing for me. I’m rested, calming my nervous system, nurturing my brain through meditation, etc. At other times, “pushing” can feel good and be necessary. I don’t believe in extremism on either end. For example, sleeping only 4 hours a night will likely make you uncomfortable in the long run. There is a lot of research that links lack of sleep to a variety of health problems over time. Not to mention the harm caused to the body due to running a lot. If that is your choice in life, so be it. But, I won’t pretend there isn’t a cost to being extremely uncomfortable like this, which could eventually lead to much more serious uncomfortableness. That is not a choice I want to make.

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  • http://www.15minutewriter.com Sharon Gibson

    This was much needed today. Thank you. 
    Even though the runner may be overdoing it, his perspective helps to reinforce and encourage me to continue to allow myself to be uncomfortable and to be reassured that means growth. Reminds me of a quote by Seth Godin, “Seek uncomfortable situations.”

  • Paula Grantleclaire

    I think this is one of my favorite articles this year. I have a motto that I drill into both mine and my son’s head: Learn how to suffer physically and mentally!   You nailed it when you said ‘comfort is overrated’ because it is. Comfort is a great thing but it should not be the end-all.

  • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

    I am uncomfortable with knowing the difference between a good idea and a God idea. I have lots and lots of good ideas but I’ll never get to accomplish them all so how do you determine what you put your resources into—knowing that every pursuit has an impact, small or large, on family. It’s something that I have been really working on!

  • Vanessa Tachenko

    I just wrote about this on my blog… Phillipians 4:6-9 also comes to mind… We just got news of more “discomfort” tonight… I’m really thankful for this post and the source of all Peace (Jesus)!

  • Subdeacon David

    I am inundated with demands in life that I am struggling to satisfy.  My wife has had 6 surgeries this year to manage breast cancer.  My 7 year old daughter is a handful to get to sleep and stay sleeping in her bed.  I am in the last weeks of an unpaid social work degree placement, and I am off sick with influenza and my annual leave in my job has run out.  I am studying pastoral theology from the Chicago Diocese of ROCOR pastoral school and the load is huge.  My two year old son Elias wants to be inseparable from his Dad and I have so much to do.  In all this I try and see the grace and hand of God and see the need to reply on Him far more fully.  

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Wow. Hang in there.

  • http://www.christianrayflores.com Christian Ray

    So true. Embracing pain must be one of the most essential qualities for a human being. 

  • http://enreachinglives.blogspot.com/ jamie

    This is such a great reminder post. Usually people are on fire in the beginning of the year with new New Year’s Resolutions and all. When it come to the mid and end of the year, the fiery passion has probably already burned out. This post will keep you recharged and on your toes. We’ve gotta get out of the dangerous zone called ‘comfort zone’.

  • Ajpminer

    It seems like we like  Life 101 but are really happier with Life 505.

  • Kelli James

    Hi Michael,

    Great post.  I have been trying to teach my children this concept all their lives! (23, 20, and 18 years)

    With two of the three in college, and the oldest likely starting his own family soon, my husband and I are in a transitional time in our lives. That being said, I feel like I’m experiencing discomfort in EVERY area of my life right now! :)

    Thank you for the reminder to let it push me to discover the next phase of my life. I’ve been working in that direction, but it’s so nice to have some encouragement along the way.

    Thank you!

    Kelli

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  • http://www.hope101.net Lori Tracy Boruff

    I’m going to share this blog with my son who lived as a soldier in the war zone called Iraq. Every day for a year was a ‘discomfort’ beyond what we can imagine. The few stories he’s told are unthinkable to me, yet he lived it and survived.  I can see how that discomfort pushed him, grew him and brought  him home alive.

    Today, however, he stays in the comfort zone of a bar and a bottle. He’s living like he’s dead. His comfort zone IS making him miserable.

    Michael, this is a true statement because I see it everyday through my son:

    “You may think that comfort leads to happiness. It doesn’t. Happiness comes from growth and feeling like you are making progress.”

    Discomfort is not his enemy, it’s his friend.  Comfort is the devil in disguise!

    Thank you for sharing this perspective and I’m praying it will be a pieced to his puzzled life. God bless!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I am praying for your son. I’ll bet he will find his way.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    I just finished “The War of Art” and know I’m fighting Resistance. I’m uncomfortable behind the keyboard right now because I’m over-thinking the process, letting “them” get into my head.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=666316710 Patrick J. Schultz

    Great article and it reminds me of some thoughts I’ve been having lately!  I’m a pastor and been thinking much about the discomfort of memorizing scripture.  It seems like unproductive time.  It can be frustratingly difficult.  It forces us to slow down and focus on just one thing at a time…which we don’t like.  Yet, I have come to believe that it has great benefits (Josh. 1:8 promises that it leads us to be “prosperous and successful” in all we do) – some of which are simply because of the discomfort we endure in doing it!   BTW – as a family we are doing a memorization program at our church, called Memory Madness.  My wife, oldest daughter (8) and I all just recited 100 verses, my son (6) did 40 verses – it was hard, but so worth it!   We are gonna keep adding more verses on!

  • Rafael Knuth

    Glad to be on the right track. Here’s my story :) 
    http://knuth.tumblr.com/post/13869746755

  • http://twitter.com/PatWooldridge Patricia Wooldridge

    Hello, Michael. In regard to your question about discomfort in one’s life: for me, I am pushing myself to create fairly large pastel landscapes which, for me, are very challenging. I am accustomed to creating in pencil. With that medium it doesn’t seem to matter if I overthink. The work turns out the way I want it. With pastel, overthinking leads to disaster—for me, anyway. The skyscapes seem easier to some degree, but only because I love skies!

    It actually is agonizing to work rapidly in color, blending with knuckles and with the heel of the hand (in the skyscapes), but a day or so later, good feelings take over and I forget the pain which, though not physical, is still sharply felt.

    The more of this I do, the more enjoyable it becomes.  I worry less about making unfixable mistakes when I remind myself of the sentence I read somewhere; “they make paper every day.”  So, in this way I believe I’m growing.

  • Pamplona66

    I totally agree with Michael. Just think about farm grown salmon and wild salmon. Which do you think tastes the best? Yes! You are wright! It is the wild salmon that struggled to get to the top of the stream or the river. 

  • Adam Lofquist

    Do you ever get an emial at just the right time? This happened for me. I recently have decided to take a step back from my normal job to start my own business. While it is scary to try and figure out how to sustain my income, this posting is just another sign that what I am doing is right.

    Keep up the great work.

  • Chelsea Hughes

    Hello Michael, I love your blog, and have been inspired often, and passed on the messages many times. I must say that this post has moved me the most.  For years, I’ve felt drawn to projects & tasks that may cause discomfort, and while they were great challenges, I always felt alive while completing them.  Exhausted, but never more alive.  

    Western culture does push us to believe that comfort is our friend, but I agree, it breeds contentment.  Your words have reassured me that it’s ok to go against the current. 

    Thanks again for such great content.

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  • Carl

    Great and an action provoking post.  However, it would be impossible for Dean to run 170 hours weekly since there are only 168 hours in a week.    Nevertheless, if even he runs 100-120, it is a great example to the rest of us. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Actually, the post said 170 miles a week not hours. Thanks.

  • Andysibirsk

    I agree, we usually don’t change until discomfort starts, and discomfort is always a sign of either positive or negative change. Karnazes is nuts and amazing, I have read his book, enjoyed it, found it inspiring and also glad it isn’t my life. I have run marathons and the training and hard work/discomfort is the best part. 

    I find that I have to keep on stretching in life until I have at least one if not two key areas of discomfort in my life. The push does make life sweeter and keeps me in the healthy balance of growing and seeing myself realistically. 

    Great post and a great reminder.  

  • Bmwbear129

    Boy, hitting home again with me!  I was too comfortable at one time with how God interacted in my life, then I went to revival!  He has awakened so many things in my life I barely have time to sit still!  I am just rebuilding after a marriage of 18 years to a drug addict.  As I am still married and it has been almost 3 years, God has me writing a book and a blog and public speaking about my situation.  I could just be sitting around waiting for my husband to come back to life, however where would I be then?  I can tell you I would not be trying to get better at being who God created and calls me to be!  From one Christian to many others out there, it’s true..if you are comfortable right now, something has to change in order for you to grow in the things of God!

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Just got a glimple of this marathon runner Dean Karnazes in Discovery Channel two weeks back. He has made strong  my love for running. His life and story  also reminded me about the book  “Out of My Comfort Zone” by Steve Waugh (former Australian Cricket team captain). It also talks about the importance of raising the bar everytime in our life. 

  • http://tuesday2.wordpress.com/ Shelley

    Thank you for the inspiration!

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  • MAT

    Good Morning, Two years ago my husband of 45 years died of cancer which has changed my life in a lot of the obvious ways that a loss of a spouse can produce. However, as I re-read this article I decided to leave a comment about being “uncomfortable.” When God was talking to Moses about His promise of a son God asked Moses to step out of the tent and look up at the sky and see if he could count the stars. Which as I know you know Moses was not able to do but it did remind Moses of how wide and unlimited our God really is. I have been aware of being outside the tent in a very unfamiliar and uncomfortable place but  recently have come to see this unfamiliar and uncomfortable place as a place of greater growth and relationship with Christ. His promise is true He will never leave us or forsake us.
    Thanks for your blog and encouragement.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I’m so grateful you shared this. Even the worst of circumstances can bring us to a place of sweet communion. It’s beautiful to see how you’ve experienced just that. I am so sorry for your loss. Thanks for letting us carry a little of the burden with you.

  • Joann Roxas

    discomforts in parenthood is common.. but i know it’s my responsibility and that I grow as my kids grow ü i am living my purpose..

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  • Dazdyer

    I am uncomfortable as I push myself to do more in my career and find my “platform” as your awesome book talks about! You have inspired me over the past six months- I hope soon you see me in this “Noisy World!”

  • Miss Ilene

    Hello – thanks for this blog post… it was a confirmation for me. I have been going through a season of discomfort in several areas of my life. Several days ago, the Lord revealed to me that everyone wants comfort… it’s okay to want it, but better yet to embrace discomfort and choose to change, choose to grow.

  • Yashvardhan Verma

    Thanks for confirming what has been my motivation factor to change myself. I had always been an introvert, always trying to be in my comfort zone, never really taking any challenges. I used to convince myself that I should do what I’m good at, what i really love to do. But then I started to find out that there are so many things that I would love eventually if I had the courage to pursue them initially. 
    But now I try to put myself in any uncomfortable situation I can find. You can say i have found confidence to try new things that I shied away from.
    Thank you for affirming my belief!

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  • Юрий Константинов

    You have a point. Masochistic workaholics are the most human of us all.

  • http://www.MorrisMatters.com/ Dwayne Morris

    I preach that the area outside your comfort zone is called the GROWTH ZONE. It’s not a fun place to be, but I believe (from personal experience) we always learn something when we allow ourselves to venture over to the “dark side.” I recently stepped into this “abyss” and was very uncomfortable. Would I do it again? Very unlikely. Do I appreciate the experience? Yes! It revealed some things about me that I may have never known. It was a very genuine learning opportunity that I’ve already used to encourage others to do the same.

  • A.Craig

    Really Nice! ♡This.

  • Bob Tamasy

    Good stuff, Michael! Another benefit of discomfort – especially in times of illness or other needs – we receive comfort from someone, and later we can help other people facing similar circumstances. We comfort others with the comfort by which we ourselves have been comforted.

  • http://www.gregorywoodard.com/ Gregory Woodard

    Michael, I whole heartedly agree with your post. Five years ago I was in my early 40s and was feeling stuck. I was approached about becoming a military chaplain. After a lot of thought, prayer & conversation with my wife & family, I decided to go for broke & made an uncomfortable decision to become a Navy Chaplain serving U. S. Marines. It was the best decision I could have made. I’ve been pretty uncomfortable at different times, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

  • http://www.thescarletpaisley.com/ Amanda

    Wowza! Dean is a machine! And I’d agree. Every time one of God’s dreams for me (that turns into my own dream) comes to fruition or begins to unfold, discomfort is always present. Be it mothering a large family, adoption, or writing; all have been ushered in with me sitting outside my comfort zone. While it’s uncomfortable, there’s truly no place I’d rather be than smack-dab in the middle of His will for me.

  • Gene M. Kelly Jr.

    Great post. In business, money is never made in the comfort zone. At the same time, I doubt the pilgrims were comfortable getting on boats and leaving England for America.

  • Carter Kenyon

    Hi Michael, I really needed to read this today. I’ve been feeling a ton of discomfort as we enter the new year. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I’m going to embrace it and thinking about it being a growth vehicle instead of throwing a pity party for myself. Blessings to you!!!

  • Mark DeJesus

    Such a needed topic to give to our modern culture. We have not been trained on how to deal with resistance and pain that comes in the journey. We need constant reminders that pain and hardship teach us to access the heart and come from the heart. Its the only way to live!

  • Movies by Depuhl

    It’s not just being uncomfortable. Discomfort – like you say – is something our culture actively avoids! Staying in our comfort zone keeps us from achieving anything great. We should not just dip our toe into the vast ocean of possibilities, but dive in head first – preferably off the tallest cliff we can find. I mean do you believe most of us even remember our new years resolutions that we made not even 60 days ago? I don’t think we do – ’cause we don’t go for the really big – uncomfortably big – goals, but only then when we get far, far out of our comfort zone do we take a chance to create something truly great and inspiring. I set an absolutely unachievable goal in 2012 – to film a documentary in Afghanistan – see why stepping 8,000 miles out of my comfort zone has paid off in a big way: http://blog.depuhl.com/big-idea-be-unrealistic-asmp-strictly-business/