Lean Into Discomfort: Be Happier by Embracing Hardship

By | February 26, 2014

“Make leaning into discomfort a part of your daily routine. When something feels awkward or uncomfortable, press into it.”

That was the message given to me from a short video I watched recently about how to achieve more and be happier.

Thing is, I hate being uncomfortable!

But I have seen the benefits of “leaning into discomfort” in my own life too many times to discount the message.

I remember all the times I have started working out and wanted to stop because it was too strenuous. Whenever I push through the difficult part—do just one more jumping-jack and then another and another, until the end of the workout—I feel rewarded by how good and healthy I feel for hours and even days afterwards. It sounds cliché, but I honestly mean it.

In Armenia, there were many days when all I wanted to do was stay at home in my apartment. I felt too awkward to go outside and interact with people in Armenian. But the times when I pushed myself to visit my neighbor or talk to the grocery store clerk were some of the most rewarding ones.

When I paint, I usually feel overwhelmed by the blank canvas. Even after I start painting, I hate what starts to emerge. The initial sketches and hesitant colors would never be described as nice-looking—much less eye-catching or a “masterpiece.” But every time I persevere—add more paint, try another brush, mix more colors—the painting turns into something I actually like and am proud of by the end.

The process can sometimes feel torturous and the results so slow in appearing.

The process can sometimes feel torturous and the results so slow in appearing.

But the rewards of looking back on your accomplishments can make you see why it's important to "lean into discomfort."

But the rewards of looking back on your accomplishments can make you see why it’s important to “lean into discomfort.”

Lean into discomfort.

The message is loud and clear. That is why, even though it is extremely painful and embarrassing to me, I have finally dusted off my writing from last November, and am reading my rough draft about my Peace Corps volunteer experience in Armenia.

After I’m done with that distressing task, I will then begin the tedious process of editing my novel. I’ll be honest right now. It’s going to suck. I’ve never made it this far in the noveling process. I have never even read one of my “finished” drafts from start to finish.

But. I am going to lean into the discomfort this time and take it to a whole new level.

I know from experience that I will emerge from this process a very happy and satisfied woman. The rewards of finally having a finished and edited novel to send on to a publisher will far outweigh the discomforts I will feel during the process.


What discomfort should you be leaning into? What rewards await? Please leave a reply and tell me about your own experiences.

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5 thoughts on “Lean Into Discomfort: Be Happier by Embracing Hardship

    1. Ev Post author

      I’m looking for progress, too. Sometimes it seems a slow time coming!

  1. Martin

    I can totally relate with the working out thing…I get a few days in, then start to think about how great it’d be to sit on the couch

    1. Ev Post author

      Yeah, me too. Except sometimes it’s not a few days. It’s a few minutes into a workout!

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