In our constant search for happiness and the good life, we may be shortchanging ourselves by seeking to eliminate all negative emotions, thoughts and experiences from our lives. That's what Robert Biswas-Diener and Todd Kashdan say in their forthcoming book, The Upside of Your Darkside. You can see a preview in Biswas-Diener's TEDx talk about comfort addiction.
Consider that as creatures, our desire for comforts (do I really need Google Glass?) and intense efforts to avoid discomfort (the vacation to Club Med instead of a real place) make us increasingly unable to deal with the discomforts life inevitably brings.
Happiness experts uniformly suggest that curiosity and challenges, with their associated discomfort, enrich our lives. Challenges are different for everyone. Consider how you might bring a little positive discomfort into your life.
To get you started, I'm proposing ten challenges sure to bring some discomfort to some of you:
- Spend time with someone who holds different opinions. Forcing you to think outside the box, engaging with someone whose ideas conflict with yours helps you stretch.
- Take a trip alone. Out of your element, you must figure out how to get around and find what you need. You get the excitement of discovering and experiencing a new place.
- Read or listen to something off your usual grid. Our internet browsers provides us with material we're likely to be interested in as do our go-to places for music and books. Try something different that forces you to open up to something out of your norm.
- Do something physically challenging. It might be walking a mile, climbing a mountain, belly dancing or alternate nostril breathing. Physical challenges shake things up.
- Express an unpopular idea. Instead of being diplomatic, if you don't like the way someone is being treated or an assumption made about you, go ahead and rock the boat. Be authentic and say what you think.
- Make a friend. It takes a little courage to share with someone new, but you'll be rewarded with a fresh perspective and energy.
- Try something new. Start a blog, join a club or volunteer your time. Be daring, whatever that looks like for you.
- Wear an unusual outfit. Wear something unlike you — a hat, a wig, something cool or something special. What you wear changes how you feel and how others see you and relate to you.
- Gaze silently into your partner's eyes. Borrowed from David Schnarch, do it for five minutes and watch out, it's a real passion builder.
- Play in the dirt. Biswas-Diener notes that our kids don't like playing outside anymore, and, I suspect, neither do we. Whether it's hiking, gardening, camping out or just sitting in the park, let nature in, and don't be afraid to get your hands dirty.
A happier you will benefit all areas of your life, especially your relationship. What's your suggestion for bringing a little positive discomfort into your life? Share below in the comments!
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