Whaat? Difficult feels terrific?
Yup. When we actually do (rather than just think about it) something that feels difficult, we get a feeling and energy burst that is…..terrific!
This Sunday morning of May 1st, it was pouring rain and 36 degrees out. Many of you know that an integral part of my morning architecture is walking my dogs. I’ve done this since 1989, with exceptions only when on crutches or away from home. No matter the weather, we go get it!
This has afforded me the opportunity to walk in extreme sub-zero temps, gale force winds, blizzards, rainstorms and all the other weather permutations in Massachusetts in Colorado. It’s sometimes tempting to think, “ah, the dogs could just go out in the back yard, and I’ll exercise later at the gym. What’s the harm of skipping one day?”
This is just the kind of thinking that makes us less than we can be. Conversely, when we choose to do something difficult, it makes us a little stronger, more resilient, and yes, even happier. Why? We are questing animals – we enjoy overcoming a challenge, small or large. And sometimes, that challenge is mostly our own procrastination, laziness, comfort, fear, conflict avoidance, or – fill in the blank with your own recipe for Resistance.
Comfort is seductive, but it is not productive. It can be the Anti-Growth sentiment! Being willing to practice discomfort makes us stronger, preparing us for the most difficult things we’ll encounter in life. Like a muscle with exercise, motivating ourselves to do something we’re resisting both causes us stress and makes us feel great after we do it.
For a few minutes this morning, my resistance to walking in the cold, pouring rain showed up as having a cup of coffee and checking email. Once I was out there with Imp and Linc, though, I felt pleased with my commitment, happy to exercising with my pals, and appreciated the moisture in our alpine desert environment that is greening up the landscape. It was actually wonderful! I’m in a ridiculously good mood now, which allowed me to lend emotional support to a couple of people who are feeling enormously tense. I also feel psyched to go drive in the rain to the gym – this kind of resilience builds upon itself.
A few ways to practice:
- Have a challenging conversation you’ve been putting off.
- Walk across the cold floor instead of putting slippers on.
- Work through something you don’t know how to do, and hang with the frustration.
- Fast for a day, or even skip just one meal.
When you’re successful at doing anything that feels difficult, mark it! Many dog trainers use “clickers” to mark a desired behavior, and I do that for myself, too. Give yourself whatever version of an “Attagirl!” works for you. Then build on that success. Soon, doing difficult things will become a source of pride, and even fun.
Off I go into the rain again.