"Don't just go through it, grow through it" - Joel Osteen
I’m a firm believer that you only truly progress and learn in life when you’re in the most difficult situations, and when you’re forced to adapt to your surroundings. The times that really test us and throw us far out of our comfort zones are the times where we really begin to grow internally, and begin to evolve into something greater. The best way to explain this, is true the trials and tribulations of the life of a lobster:
“How do lobsters grow? Lobsters are soft animals that live inside a rigid shell that does not expand. So how can a lobster grow? As the lobster grows, the shell becomes incredibly confining, and the lobster feels under pressure and uncomfortable. It goes under a rock formation to protect itself from predatory fish, casts off its shell and produces a new one. Eventually that shell becomes incredibly uncomfortable, and the lobster is forced to grow a new one; with this process continuing a number of times. The stimulus that allows a lobster to grow is that it feels uncomfortable.
If lobsters had doctors they would never grow, because as soon as the lobster gets uncomfortable, they would go and get a Valium or medication - feel fine, and never take off their shell. What we must realise is that times of stress, are also signals for times of growth. If we use adversity properly, we can grow through adversity.” - A.Twerski.
Your comfort zone is a wonderful, reassuring thing, but you will never achieve anything there; sitting comfortably never provides you with the opportunity to expand, to find new meaning and to progress, whatever the facet of your life it may be. And although comfortable, it is also the most dangerous place, where you remain unchallenged and without purpose.
Hours of graft in the gym, early morning swims, late night runs and plain meals have taught me that when you want to progress, to achieve the things that other people often can’t, its due to the extra miles and the the desire to put yourself in the situations where others wouldn’t. We all crave personal growth; the ability to consistently be better, faster, stronger and smarter, but few are willing to sacrifice their ease at the expense of suffering, in the face of something greater. It’s easy to sit and do nothing, to stick in a similar routine and to avoid difficult tasks at all costs. Our basic survival instinct is designed to protect human beings at all costs, to stop us from being hurt and to protect us.
Chuck Palahniuk, the author of Fight Club used the infamous Tyler Durden to portray an ideology; going against the norms and setting your own rules; saying “fuck it” to the chains of normality and sticking to your gut. Tyler, in an entrancing speech, asks “how much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?” There is absolutely nothing comfortable about someone coming towards with you, with flying fists and every intention to hurt you. You only learn so much about yourself through hardships, where the only opportunity to come out on top is by finding a way out; by putting yourself in a difficult scenario and adapting to it,
What we avoid in life is often the thing that can have the greatest positive effect, despite its original daunting prospect. We turn our backs on the problems that lie in our wake, mistaking them for dangerous scenarios rather than open-armed windows of opportunity. We restrict ourselves and define our abilities by the decision to avoid that which is necessary for progression.
Embrace discomfort. Do the things you don’t want to do, and reap the rewards by avoiding safe keeping. No one successful achieved anything from sitting comfortably; they got where they are from hours and hours of continuous graft on the areas where they were weakest. Through continuous work, your threshold will expand exponentially; your previous maximum will rapidly become your new minimum, as you push yourself to boundaries you had no idea even existed. But how will you ever know unless you try?
So the next time you walk in to gym, on to the training pitch or into the library, ask yourself: Where am I weakest? Where can I improve? What more can I achieve? How much more should I know? Continue to be curious, to question that which you don’t yet understand and to expand yourself through discomfort.
"Every moment of ones existence is growing into more or retreating into less" - Norman Mailer