Anthony’s Note: This is a guest post written by Marc Chernoff from Marc & Angel Hack Life, an inspirational personal development blog on how to think, feel and live better. Marc (and Angel) Chernoff are amazing people (who truly embody what they talk about), good friends, professional coaches and authors of the new book, Getting Back to Happy.
When you look back on the recent past, don’t think of the pain you felt. Think of the strength you gained, and appreciate how far you’ve come. You’ve been through a lot, but you’ve grown a lot too. Give yourself credit for your resilience, and then step forward again with grace.
The next best step forward?
Doing something uncomfortable that will move your life forward. Let me explain…
Almost two decades ago, when I told my grandmother I was worried about taking a chance and regretting my choice, she hugged me and said, “Trust me, kiddo, that’s not what you’re going to regret when you’re my age. If anything, you will likely kick yourself for not taking more chances on the very real and accessible opportunities you have today.” And the older I get, the more I realize how right she was. Life is about trusting yourself and taking chances, losing and finding happiness, learning from experience, appreciating the journey, and realizing that every step is worth it.
But (and this is a big “but”)… you have to be willing to take each step. You have to give yourself a fair chance. Because in the end, more than anything else, we regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were too busy to nurture, and the decisions we waited too long to make.
Think about it…
The big opportunity you procrastinated on. That friend you never called. Those important words you left unspoken.
You know what I’m talking about.
Why do we do these things to ourselves?
Why do we make so many regretful decisions along the way?
In most cases the poor decisions we continuously make, and the ensuing regrets we face, are caused not by physical problems in our lives, but instead by common weaknesses of the inner mind—weaknesses that encourage us to avoid discomfort.
Discomfort is a form of pain, but it isn’t a deep pain—it’s a very shallow one. It’s that feeling you get when you’ve stepped outside of your comfort zone. The idea of exercising every morning, for example, brings discomfort—so we don’t do it. Eating green vegetables brings discomfort too. So does meditating, or focusing on a difficult task, or saying no to others. Of course, these are just examples, because all of us find discomfort in different things at different times, but you get the general idea.
The bottom line is most of us don’t want to be uncomfortable, so we subconsciously run from discomfort constantly.
The problem with this is that, by running from discomfort, we are forced to participate in only the (easy) activities and (unexciting) opportunities within our comfort zones. And since our comfort zones are relatively small, we miss out on most of life’s greatest and healthiest experiences, and we get stuck in a debilitating cycle that often leads to regret.
Are you tired of dealing with the same types of headaches and heartache over and over again?
Then it’s time to break the cycle, purge some bad habits, and embrace discomfort as you prepare for the year ahead. It’s time to learn from your mistakes rather than be conquered by them, and let your errors be of commission rather than omission.
Remember, you ultimately become what you repeatedly do. If your habits aren’t helping you, they’re hurting you. Which means it’s time for a change.
The best way to conquer discomfort is perhaps the single most uncomfortable thing you have to do for yourself in life: embrace it and engage it!
Lean into it. Show it your teeth.
Put yourself back in control!
Few things you do will matter as much in the long run.
Because here’s the reality: a tiny part of your life is decided by completely uncontrollable circumstances, while the vast majority of your life is decided by how you actively respond to them.
Whenever our students come to us feeling down about a life situation they can’t control, we typically start by reinforcing the hard truth: sometimes changing your situation isn’t possible—or simply not possible soon enough. But you CAN always choose a mindset that moves you forward. And doing so will help you change things from the inside out, and ultimately allow you to grow beyond the struggles you can’t control at any given moment. This is what it means to lean into it!
Here’s a powerful question that will support you with a mindset adjustment when you need it most:
Who would you be, and what else would you see, if you removed the thought that’s worrying you right now?
Roman Stoic Lucius Annaeus Seneca describes it perfectly:
We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.”
This isn’t to say what makes us uncomfortable shouldn’t make us uncomfortable, but we waste time and energy avoiding what’s uncomfortable. We whip ourselves into a frenzy over situations and interactions that, in reality, are less formidable than we imagine.
Facing discomfort with strength and courage is all about a change in mindset. Nobody wants to do uncomfortable things, but we choose to because they must be done.
And, the majority of the time, we end up saying to ourselves, “that wasn’t as bad as I thought…”
In our brand new book, Getting Back to Happy: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Reality, and Turn Your Trials into Triumphs, Angel and I develop this kind of toughness with our readers as a key principle for growth. When we choose to embrace discomfort, we drain its power over us. It’s an active practice of taking life day by day and focusing on the little, uncomfortable things that make a lasting difference. This book represents the culmination of hundreds of hours of work with course students, and lots of one-on-one work with each other, too.
We’re sincerely excited to share Getting Back to Happy with you, so we’re also giving away over $50 in bonuses (including One Day at a Time — The 60-day workbook for implementing life-changing daily rituals) to Break the Twitch readers that order the book today. You can get details here.
About the author: Marc (and Angel) Chernoff are the creators of Marc & Angel Hack Life, which was recognized by Forbes as “one of the most popular personal development blogs” and the authors of the new book, Getting Back to Happy. Through their writing, coaching, course and annual live events (where Anthony Ongaro, founder of Break the Twitch, has spoken in the past), they’ve spent the past decade sharing proven strategies for getting unstuck in order to find lasting happiness and success.