Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
For those who've heard my motivational speech, you've heard me talk about the importance of Getting Comfortable Being Uncomfortable. That point, among other lessons I bring from the mountains to daily life/business at sea level, seems to resonate the most with audiences. I talk about how it builds mental resilience.
So I decided to take a deep dive into that subject. One of the "benefits" I've discover with ADHD is that if you find something you're passionate about, one gets an incredible ability to laser focus for a long period of time. Boy was I focused, leading me down a rabbit hole that never seemed to end.
I read a few books, listened to many podcasts, and reviewed scientific literature. (The bad part of having ADHD is that it's super difficult to take the next step of doing something with it! ) I discovered many other benefits in addition to building mental resilience.
To summarize my discoveries: human evolutionary biology isn't working so well with our modern comfortable life. In addition to the benefits of preparing for a tough journey, getting comfortable has a many other positive benefits on our mind and body.
I'm working out in a temperature controlled gym on a treadmill. This treadmill evens blows cold air on you! It's not ideal for strengthening the ligaments in our knees and ankles.
Prehistoric humans evolved roughly 2.5 million years ago. Modern humans arrived on the scene 2.3 million years later. And, what we've come to expect as modern conveniences -- think A/C, two cars per family, Novocain, or packaged snacks were readily available only 75 years ago. Same goes for screens for entertainment. To put that into perspective, imagine that Prehistoric man arrived on January 1. Homo Sapiens would have come on December 3. And our modern comforts debuted New Year's Eve at 12:39pm.
So for that long, humans have endure discomforts -- extreme hunger, cold, stifling heat, walking & carrying wild game and/or babies for hours. Our bodies aren't faring well without those. Seems that sitting all day, snacking non-stop, being inside a temperature controlled environment 24/7 among many others, has detrimental consequences on our minds and bodies. Much of what ails us can be traced to this problem. From the massive increases in obesity. 42% of Americans are obsese. Not overweight, that's 73%, but obese. Other complications are ADHD, depression, and back pain. Our bodies haven't had time to evolve for this new environment.
It's tempting to take a pill for any/all of those maladies. But, those seem to create a "Whack-O-Mole" situation. It's far better to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Walk. Sit in a sauna. Endure the last minute of your shower on max cold. Or dare I say -- be bored. Resist the temptation to doom scroll on your phone when waiting in a line. Who knew that being bored makes us more creative?! We're doing disservice to ourselves and our children being entertained every waking hour.
With limited time to hit the gym to workout as much as our bodies truly require, I started wearing a 45 lb weight vest while walking the dog 2x/day for 45 minutes each. (I've since put that contraption in one my climbing packs to take pressure off my shoulders.) It's a fabulous simple workout.
You don't have to take up mountain climbing or be a marathon runner. It's being aware of the modern comforts and preventing comfort creep. Once upon a time we were thankful to have a car so you didn't have to walk. Now, we would rather die than buy a car that didn't have heated seat or remote start. Imagine getting to cold car?!. That's comfort creep. Start fighting it now.
Here are some things you can implement:
Put down your phone.
Get bored. With a device that brings the world to our palm (and is filled with mostly negative information), we've become addicted to those screens that our 2.5 million year old brains weren't made for. All that passive time is harming our abiltity to think creatively. It's like a weighlifter who doesn't put down a weight, they're constantly using muscles. Well, when your body is resting that the benefits happen. Same goes for our brains. Ever wonder why the best ideas come when we're in the shower -- not while watching TV? Start by putting down your phone when waiting in a line and implement screen free times.
Full-disclosure I hate this one! And, there are still somethings you can implement. In the summer, I can deal with a 1 minute cold water rinse at the end. Still not your thing - resist the temptation to hit that remote start heat button and deal with the winter cold for 3 minutes. I'm working on not putting on all my climbing gear when I walk the dog in February.
Yes, that's REI's hashtag, and it's a good one. I'll need to write an entire blog post on this sometime because there are many benefits. Dr Andrew Huberman talks about the litany of positive things that come from getting early morning sun in your eyes. Getting outdoor movement has another set of huge positive health consequences. Research shows that it reduces the negative effects of ADHD and increases your mood affect. In addition while moving in the heat and cold, it helps reduce coronary heart disease risks.
Sitting the new smoking
Ouch! We're finding a ton of bad stuff results from sitting all day. When sitting for long periods, it causes our hip muscles to tighten, and become shorter. Our glute muscles become deactivated, and the combination of these two changes how we move and walk. That often leads to chronic back pain. Oh, then we move less and the downward spiral begins. The more comfort, the less we engage our core muscle as well. It's hard to believe and we're made to sit on the ground.
If you're stuck at a desk job, do your body and mind some good. Get up every hour and walk around. Stand and/or work around on phone calls. Most of us no longer have stationary desk phones.
Here's a new one I've just started. While my family and family dog take over our super comfy couch to watch an hour of TV together at night, I'm on the floor for 30 minutes in various seated positions that OPEN my hip, glutes, and hamstrings. Sitting cross-legged on the floor (think criss-cross apple sauce) and switching the front feet.
This is a journey. Start with some simple goals. As, I've always talked about, implementing this discomforts will also build your mental resilience. Good luck.
Keep climbing (and keep moving!)