Teach Kids the Thrill of Being Uncomfortable

It started with a post on Instagram, sent to me by my husband. It was strikingly different from posts in my own feed. It was a short little video, with a shirtless man running and talking. He was calling out everyone’s insecurities and fears and self-doubt; telling us to own our truth. It was incredibly sincere, brutally honest, and completely inspirational.

Who is this guy, I wondered. I asked my husband. “Ha!” he says, “you gotta listen to the podcast with Rogan.” I scrolled back through the Joe Rogan Experience podcast archives to February, 2018, and listened to Joe Rogan interview David Goggins.

This guy is just plain driven. Driven to never, ever give in to what he calls “comfort.” Goggins explained that when he feels the slightest bit comfortable, he knows he’s becoming complacent and he works to become uncomfortable, He’s gone through grueling military training, crazy tests of physical and mental endurance, and he’s broken a world record for pull-ups.

I finish that podcast in total awe. I don’t know that I have ever encountered anything like David Goggins’ level of intensity. My husband says, “He’s for real. He lived with some guy for 30 days — he’s really that intense. Listen to that Rogan podcast.” So, I went back to June, 2018, in the Joe Rogan Experience archives, and listened to Rogan interview Jesse Itzler, an entrepreneur and author. In the last 20 minutes of the podcast, Itzler talks about the 30 days that Goggins lived with him and forced him to see that he could accomplish far more than he believed was possible.

Somewhere in that 20 minutes, Rogan delivers this brilliant impromptu monologue, saying, “We have been fed this line of horse shit that you’re supposed to seek comfort. And I don’t think you are. I think you’re supposed to seek lessons. And you’re supposed to seek difficult tasks.”

At that moment, from deep down in my David Goggins rabbit hole, I realized it’s true. We have been fed a line. Just think about how companies advertise to us. Nearly every one is selling us comfort. Comfort through the convenience of not cooking. Comfort through the medicated relief of symptoms. Or, comfort through mattresses that absolutely guarantee a good night’s sleep.

There are signs that quite a few other people agree with Joe Rogan’s theory. Every year, more people seek out challenges and discomfort. We’ve moved beyond the half and full marathon to 50 and 100 mile races. There’s Tough Mudder and American Ninja Warrior competitions. For less physical and more mental challenges, there are increasing opportunities to take in-person or online courses with your favorite blogger. Learn to cook, or camp, or paint. The options seem endless. Or what about tiny homes — people continue to rid themselves of extra square footage and live in tiny spaces that provide minimal comfort. Nothing but the necessities in 188 square feet.

If ever there was a time for us to realize that humans thrive on challenges, or difficult things, it is now. Today’s children, tomorrow’s workers, will be looking for work in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. And, their skill sets may have to change multiple times throughout their careers. They will have to continually learn in order to keep up. And, based upon what we know from Goggins, Rogan, and the scores of other people out there doing hard things, our children may actually be happier because of it.

If you’ve caught the “do hard things” bug, and you’re out there getting after it, either physically or mentally, tell your kids. Tell your nieces and nephews. Tell your students or your employees. Lead the way by sharing your experiences. Tell them how you’re trying to beat a personal record, or create a blog, or learn how to dance. Lead the way by showing them the thrill that comes from being challenged. Tell them how sometimes it’s super hard, and you want to give up. Tell them that you kept trying till you got it, and then you sought out something else to improve.

Now’s the time to let kids know that it’s okay to be uncomfortable. It’s okay to be nervous or intimidated or scared. Having those feelings as you learn something new, or work to achieve something you didn’t think you could, is normal. It’s actually great. It will make the accomplishment taste that much sweeter in the end.

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