This Is How Choosing Courage Over Comfort Helps You Lead An Authentic Life

Ian Dooley

In everyday life we tend to seek comfort as opposed to being (un)comfortable, it feels better, it’s easier, its standard operating procedure unless we plug against it with a resistance of our own.

Humans are biologically wired to avoid pain, discomfort, and anything of the sort because it sees it as a threat which could lead to death whether it be awkward social encounters, vigorous exercise, or even waking up early.

Hence why discipline is a ‘muscle’ and needs to be trained like any physical muscle, but is so much harder to be consistent with because we don’t see the physical differences as we do with our new biceps or abs so we tend to shrink away when the slightest adversity storms over our bright sunshine, sulking away lower & lower into the abyss we call ‘giving up’.

But if we practice, day after day, courage over comfort even when our million-year-old brain says ‘don’t do it’ ‘you’ll die’ ‘stop’ overriding this silly computer saying, no I will not die by saying hi to this person in the grocery store or smiling as opposed to putting our head down, aimlessly staring at our phone avoiding anything out of the ‘norm’ which may feel slightly uncomfortable. This may sound trivial, but practicing ‘going first’ as Gabby Reece says it for example when passing someone being the first to say hello or smile giving the other person permission to feel comfortable and then saying hello back as we do this in this small and seemingly trivial area of life, we build that ‘muscle’ to overcome that feeling of fear when we’re heading in for an interview or trying to close a deal with a new client and it grows bigger & stronger with the more resistance it faces, whereas saying hello first in the grocery store seemed like a big deal now is funny to us, and now we’re jumping off cliffs, out of planes, hiking Mt. Everest (figuratively or quite literally) and as the old adage goes “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” your heart starts to feel with this odd sense of freedom, liberty where you stop putting limits on what you can and cannot do, looking back as it hits you out of the blue “Who is this person, this is not me” but yes it is you! We all have two sides to us, the fear & limiting side, and the other person who desperately wants to fight the fear, cowardice side but is against all olds because of this old scared evolutionary brain we carry on & without proper training can’t ever win. Theres many ways to start practicing ‘courage over comfort’ one being simply taking on challenges that you don’t feel qualified for, a great guy Kamal Ravikant once said ‘If I only did things I was qualified for I would be pushing a broom’ practicing courage isn’t only for these physical challenges, its about 95% mental, some of us (including myself) lack the courage to take on a new challenge because we feel like we need permission from some authority to do so, to start a new business or build a blog, we get these rush of thoughts like “Who am I to think I have something note worthy to speak about” or “I know nothing about business” these are classic lines we all tell ourselves after the initial wave of inspiration passes, and the negativity glares upon us with its judging eyes. If you don’t know anything about business great, pick up a few books, email a few people, and just start, because an ‘outside’ view is best anyways, people that go by the book 100% never truly succeed (typically) you need to be able to have a unique perspective on a given topic and if you love a certain thing then that’s best, and who can have a more unique perspective on a topic as yourself when there is no one like yourself exactly, even if you happen to have an identical twin.

As opposed to aimlessly reading every single book, and regurgitating what the ‘titans’ of business have always done, or how they think a business has to be done, the only rule is there’s no rules and if you just follow what everyone has done for decades how could you possibly expect life-changing results?

The same goes with writing, well I don’t know ‘how to write’ or I couldn’t possibly write as good as Thoreau or (insert your all-time favorite writer) and of course this could be positively true (or not). But what you can do is, once again, offer a unique perspective on the given area you’re excited about because no one has the exact chemicals of your brain, your life experiences, the books you’ve consumed, places you’ve been, family you’ve had, your dislikes, your likes, your fears, and your passions so the true way to get to success is to follow exactly what’s true to you, and what’s in your heart however voodoo wooey that sounds, it’s the truth, it’s the one true advantage you carry, an advantage that no one can come & just rip-off because if we just study what (INSERT AMAZING WRITER HERE) did and then try to replicate it, anyone else can come along and take more time to learn that specific writers craft & copy it even better, you’ll never be the best copycat, but you can be the best you, which is how all the greats came to be. My next point ties deeply into this, not being afraid to take the less traveled path, which at first is scary as asking that girl out or giving your first speech in front of a crowd and it doesn’t get better… You’ll constantly question yourself: “is this right” “maybe they were right” “Am I the insane one or is it them” “If everyone thinks that, and im the only one on this side how could I possibly be right”. These thoughts constantly pervade my mind, in all of my work, my hobbies, and how I live my life, but anyone who wants to become remarkable must face this day after day, growing stronger psychologically to face these thoughts, the thoughts will never leave you even after years of feeling this way, but the will to accept them & not give in grows stronger & stronger so you’re easily able to deal with them when before it would’ve crushed you. The best way to overcome these is try to find people who think the same way, and more importantly ACT the same way because we all know the people who will tell us ‘yeah im going against the grain or against the crowd’ etc. but when push comes to shove and someone questions them or insults them, poking fun at their idiosyncratic behavior they sulk away immediately into embarrassment, which we’ve all felt at once of course.

A quote I ponder once a week or so is “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, its time to pause & reflect” by Mark Twain a figure we’ve remembered in history, a “great” felt this same fear I do!

We don’t need to find this solidarity among only our contemporaries or those directly in our path, seek out those in history, or a group of men/women you’d like to emulate & devour everything about them incorporating what you like into your daily life, and storing in your ‘courage bank’ those little aphorisms and sayings that will help you see the light in your mind, when all you see around you is this deep, dark, cloudy view in the physical sense which would typically have you start questioning if you should continue doing what you’re doing, where now you have people to pool from who’ve had the same exact thoughts you’re having, and they made it! We need to stand on the shoulders of giants as they say, to get to the next level, seek solace in the wisdom of the people who’ve came before you. By all means, this isn’t a perfect fix, we will still feel that anxious feeling in our hearts to give up, to quit, to feel unqualified for what we’re doing, again this is biological, but we have to decelop the muscle of being okay with feeling this feeling, our heart at times feels amazing, excited, positive, and joyous, whereas other times it feels depressed, lonely, sad, and even downright miserable they’re just feelings and if we can remind ourselves that yeah we feel terrible right now, but yesterday we felt great or the day before about this and there’s a lot of biological & societal factors going on and to feel amazing about a project or even your life 24/7 is preposterous and simply not practical in any sense. We have to feel the lows, to make sense of the highs and as we get more comfortable and totally okay with feeling these lows within the heart we can start to use them as a different frequency than when we feel great producing the yin & yang of our creative work, we need both to produce something great, to produce something ‘note-worthy’ we need these diametrically opposed perspectives to achieve the ultimate master piece. Next time you feel shitty, try to work through it, sit there in silence meditating on it for a minute realizing its just a little cloud over the sun, but it’ll pass like it always has through your life, but the painter doesn’t go away on the days it rains or he would miss 50% of the time when he could be creating, he’s been trained to use these different days, different feelings, different emotions to create contrasting views of work both offering unique insights into his spirit. Inspiration is for amateurs, professionals just show up, they get to work realizing most of the ‘inspiration’ they need will come out of the activity itself, by simply starting doors will open that you couldn’t possibly have seen coming unlocking a new world that you were blind to before starting, you’ll find yourself asking “Where did this come from, who wrote this” and then you’ll never go back to just waiting for inspiration ever again. The hardest part is the beginning, but once we begin our mind takes us new places, the world introduces us to new people, and these events unlock new perspectives, opportunities, & ideas we would have never had if we just hopelessly sat waiting for this mystical ‘inspiration’ to spike. We need to put ourselves out there, once again consistently practicing courage over comfort, taking new classes, trying new activities never knowing what’ll spark your interest & set your heart on fire, living a wide life ends up giving you a very deep life because as you find what you love you seek deeper & deeper into that craft, cutting off the unnecessary stuff that no longer serves you, but If at first, you only keep a narrow mindset limiting yourself to one field or one hobby or one activity or only things that make you money, you’ll have a hard time finding what gets you excited because from experience I can tell you its never the thing you expect, it’s always a very odd revelation when the football jock starts a painting class and realizes he absolutely loves it and after some time is curating works for some New York Show, it’s the universes way of rewarding you for stepping out of your routine or what’s expected of who ‘you’ are. “When someone tells you who you are, don’t listen.” –Maya Angelou. This includes yourself, as humans we desperately crave a “label” to construct a plausible story of who we are, we want to be described as X “Oh Jim, he’s a tennis player who likes to read, hike, he’s a dad, republican, and Christian”. When we do this to ourselves, without realizing, we truly limit what we can & cant do we’re the dictator of our own self, well im a republican so I can’t like Obama, or I’m Christian so I cant read up on the Islamic Faith to gain some insight, and I’m a tennis player so I cant take some time off and look into basketball.

When people ask you who you are reply “I don’t know” –  this doesn’t mean you fade into a wave of non-existence it simply means that you refuse to put a label on yourself or let others do so, so that you have the freedom to peruse many different areas of life, change your opinions (which happens often as new information comes available) without being embarrassed for conflicting ‘who you are’.

We’re not a static being, life is a transient experience of growth, failure, & constantly keeping ourselves open to new ways of thinking, but as we get older & older these ideologies get more & more lodged into our concept of ‘self’ and we may no longer even believe what we did 10 years ago when we labeled ourselves ‘Republican’ but refuse to change in fear of embarrassment & ‘feeling wrong’ for all of those years that we practiced a certain set of beliefs, as opposed to realizing this transient experience of life & not letting people hold you to what you said or did in the past, because that’s no longer ‘you’ again you’re not some static being, each morning you wake up a piece of you from the past is gone, and something is added to the present each day, month, & year making up, building, and eventually breaking down again & again into this constantly renewed self-concept.

You’re only as young as the last time you’ve changed your mind, don’t get caught in the trap of labels, you’re just a being on this spinning globe trying to figure how to live a better life. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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