“Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
The key to achieving contentment and a general sense of well-being in life lies in our ability to be comfortable feeling uncomfortable, according to the Psychology Today article, “What Happy People Do Differently”.
As the article explains, some of the most memorable and rewarding life experiences are ones which, in the moment they’re experienced, are nerve-wracking, uncomfortable and a far cry from anything you’d expect to be ultimately worth while (think sober karaoke or solo trips across Morocco)…and yet, research has shown that they are.
The happiest among us recognize this and regularly seek out new, challenging and anxiety-provoking situations because of it. Or as the article states: “Truly happy people seem to have an intuitive grasp of the fact that sustained happiness is not just about doing things that you like. It also requires growth and adventuring beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone.”
And while ‘adventuring beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone’ could involve something major like joining the Peace Corps or signing up for a skydiving course, it could also involve something as small as forcing yourself to sit with a negative emotion. Because most people, when hit with an unpleasant feeling like anger, sadness or jealously, will attempt to shove it aside. They’ll pour a glass of wine or flip on the TV or distract themselves with work or chores. And while these coping mechanisms aren’t necessarily wrong, sometimes the easiest way to rid yourself of the icky feeling is not to run from it, but to address it head on; to feel the emotion in all of it’s awkward and unpleasant glory…and then go do something about it.
Or as the article’s authors pointed out, “Happy, flourishing people don’t hide from negative emotions. They acknowledge that life is full of disappointments and confront them head on…” because “…while being uncomfortable and vulnerable is not an easy path, it is the most direct route to becoming stronger and wiser.”