Being comfortable should be a warning sign. It's not that being comfortable is a bad thing by itself, but if we agree that growth comes from pushing your comfort zone, then any time we're within our comfort zone we're not growing. Whenever you find that you're comfortable, ask yourself what you aren't training. The answer will vary from case to case, but the question to ask yourself is: would being comfortable or training be better for me?
I'll give you an example. Six weeks ago I was bundled up in my jacket and hoodie, walking through Beijing. I was warm, and I was... comfortable.
The opposite of being comfortable is training. What could I be training by giving up that comfort? Well, I could be getting used to cold weather, which would mean that I could feel warm in a wider range of climates and possibly even pack less clothing. That seemed like a win, so I took off my jacket. As I walked, looking for a restaurant, I noticed that I was warm again, so I took off my hoodie.
And that's how life's been for the past six weeks. I remove articles of clothing until I'm wearing just pants and shirt, or until I'm slightly cold. Already, it's working. I spent Thanksgiving in D.C. and Virginia, and even though I brought it everywhere with me, I didn't wear it once. Most of the time I was a little bit cold, but if the wind was still enough, I could be okay even when it was forty-five degrees.
On the other hand, I found that if I was slightly cold, I had a really tough time focusing on work. So I keep myself warm when I work, and cold the rest of the time.
If your work is comfortable, you're probably not getting better at it. If your relationship is too comfortable, you're probably not strengthening it. If your entire daily routine is comfortable, then you've probably got a ton of opportunity to push yourself and grow.
When you make yourself uncomfortable, you widen your comfort zone. Soon those things you did to make yourself uncomfortable have become comfortable. Then you look beyond that newly demarcated comfort zone and push again. This is the cycle of self-improvement, and noticing when you're comfortable is how you know that you're ready to take the next step.
Picture is a phoenix from Forbidden City, Beijing. Did I mention that we named our island Phoenix Island?
So much work to do... habits book coming January at the latest, gear post coming as soon as two pretty awesome things come in, RV post at some point.
you should read "becoming the iceman" by Wim Hof, he trains by jogging in his boxers in the snow etc. Hof's been on Discovery as well, where he ran a marathon above or near the polar circle or something (can't exactly recall what it was, just know it looked really cold :D)
The book is quite interesting, as it talks about the benefits of training to "bear" the cold. For example that by training like this your veins have to contract and expand (just like your muscles do when training) and by doing this you train them to become stronger and you'll train yourself to be able to "work" and move normally even when very cold. Not like when it's cold outside and your hands/feet get kind of numb.
There's also a story of how the mind plays tricks on you, for example; when the media started to know of his "hobby" (swimming in frozen lakes) they wanted to do an interview and see him do his hobby. So he took 'em out to a frozen lake, took off his clothes and jumped straight in, after 10-20 minutes he got back out and went on to demonstrate that he could still move like normal. He did some yoga postures and showed how his hands and feet could still move (while still having next to nothing on his body in terms of clothing).
Then as they were wrapping things up to go back and as Wim Hof was just about to put his pants on they saw a guy walking over the lake several hundred meters/yards away and all of the sudden a crack and the guy fell through the ice. Nobody of the crew knew what to do and Hof immediately started running towards the guy; jumped in the water to get him out and as soon as he was almost out the ice broke again sending them both in the water again. Only on the second attempt did he get the man out of the water.
Funny thing is the guy that fell through the ice was already in a state of hypothermia, even though he was probably in the water for no more than 5 minutes and Hof was still perfectly fine and he had been out in the cold for more than a half hour.
Reminds me of a story of a guy who worked in the railyard (or how do you call those things where the trains are "stored" for the night? lol) and he had to clean the freezer wagons (meant to transport food etc). So late in his shift he got in one of those wagons to clean and he accidentally locked himself in. The guy started to yell for help and started pannicking.
They found the guy the next morning, still inside the wagon where he had died from hypothermia and showed signs of frostbite. The weird thing is that those wagons aren't turned on at night to preserve power, so the freezer wasn't working and it wasn't a cold night, so he should've been fine as it was warm enough. It was probably the guy's mind that killed him.
Anyway thought that was interesting so thought I'd share it :)
Keep up the awesome job Tynan!
this post reminds me of a Chinese saying, something like "eat to 70% full, wear to 30% cold", maybe not talking about exactly the same thing with yours, but also indicating that we better not satisfy ourselves 100%.
I thought your point about being too cold to work was telling. There's a "sweet spot". Discomfort can spur growth up to a certain point, but beyond that point discomfort hinders growth. In the little book of talent, he says to "play at the edge of your competence".
"if we agree that growth comes from pushing your comfort zone, then any time we're within our comfort zone we're not growing."
It seems that what you really mean is that growth comes ONLY from pushing your comfort zone. I disagree with that. We grow physically and in other ways when we rest too. Most of growth (and healing, which is improvement too) happens during rest (sleep, especially). During an exercise we break down, and we get rebuilt (i.e., we grow) during rest.
Also, one could be comfortable studying things, and that studying will (or may) cause him to develop himself.
Meditating, relaxing, being mindful causes one to grow, yet, this process can be pretty comfortable. There are psychological techniques that often cause one to improve oneself greatly, yet that happens comfortably.
As they say, outside of your comfort zone is where the magic happens. Great post as usual Tynan. Thanks for the continuous inspiration!
After reading this, I'm starting to feel uncomfortable whenever I'm comfortable but training to become comfortable while being uncomfortable in this case would not be so productive because then you get used to being comfortable which takes me back right where I started.
Hmm... really interesting idea on not wearing the coat. I used to always wear short sleeves, but I stopped because it was obviously cold, and I felt like I looked like a fool. Maybe that's all the reason to start wearing short sleeves again...
Just wanted to say "how timely it was to read this as i have been having similar thoughts these days" -- and i'm decades older than you; apart from being careful of our health, too much mental comfort can promote aging too.
I woke up this morning at 4:46am. I went to sleep at 11:30pm, so that's approaching reasonable. As soon as I woke up I began thinking of how great some things are, so I got my laptop and now I'm in the dark writing about them. That's inspirado.
1. Blankets. How cool is it that blankets don't use any electricity? If I was a supreme deity of the earth and one of my minions said, "Look at those humans. They're making big cotton pancakes and sleeping underneath them because they think that will keep them warm," I would seriously question why I built humans in the first place.
It's just so cool that we generate enough body heat to keep ourselves warm like that. I would expect that it would help maybe, but that we'd still need external heat.
Sue and I have known from way back that we want to have as much skin-to-skin time with our daughter as possible. In fact, we haven't even purchased a stroller because we want to carry Devina to achieve this goal.
Originally, we were using a Britax carrier which was given to us by some friends, and I loved. But we started reading blogs which warned of issues that could arise with carriers that leave a baby's legs dangling, which the Britax (as well as a Baby Bjorn carrier we had) did. Specifically, articles like this:
Here it is illustrated: