top of page

The Surprising Value of Discomfort

In a world that glorifies comfort, I find myself in a surprising conflict: comfort makes me uncomfortable. I often worry that too much satisfaction with the status quo in my life will lead to complacency. I believe peace and satisfaction are important, but when I’m not challenging my head or heart, I don’t feel like I’m living up to my own standards. 

Comfort at all costs

Take a quick look around, and you’ll notice that, overall, there’s a societal push toward extreme comfort. You’re encouraged to chase this ideal in every possible way at every possible moment. Whether you’re buying a new couch, planning a vacation, or shopping for kitchen gadgets, ease and contentment are almost always the goal.

The issue arises when this pursuit moves beyond the physical to include the emotional. The temptation to avoid unpleasant thoughts or conversations is natural, but both positive and negative feelings are valid and have to be acknowledged. An obsession with constant emotional comfort can stop you from doing the work to become the best version of yourself.

Comfort can be positive. When you’re content with where you are, it can mean all is well. No drama or adversarial force lurks in the shadows. Avoiding extreme highs and lows is good. Whether in a relationship or at work, contentment is usually the result of years of hard work.

Comfort or complacency?

Ultimately, the line between comfort and complacency can be blurry. You might be at ease in a relationship, but if you’re not nurturing it, is it really growing? Or are you doing just enough to maintain the bond? You could feel satisfied with your job, but you’re neither excited nor inspired by your work. As a result, you might start putting in the bare minimum of effort. You’re comfortable, but you’re also unhappy.

Complacency, however, comes with consequences. A relationship, whether romantic, familial, or friendship, might fail because emotions weren’t shared, issues weren’t confronted, and honest conversations were avoided. At work, complacency might mean missed opportunities, denied raises, or unachieved goals. Permanent comfort can lead to an unhappy life. 

The danger of burnout

Finding ways to constantly push myself and embrace discomfort inspires me to improve and ensures I’m putting forth my best effort. Sometimes, this drive results in a perpetual cycle of proving myself, which isn’t sustainable. Although I know this approach helps keep me at peak performance, I can’t deny the danger of burning myself out. No one can possibly keep this kind of standard up all the time, so where do you draw the line?

I’ve always struggled to find balance between my commitment to my work and taking care of myself. I love my work, but I can’t pursue new challenges at my own expense. What good would I be to my students if I never slowed down the pace I’ve grown to accept as normal? What benefit would I be to my clients and peers if I’m too exhausted to actually do my work?

To truly grow, you need to know when to take a break. Listen to your head and your heart. Their voices may be small and frequently drowned out by competing tasks, but they will tell you what you need. Allowing yourself to pause isn’t the end of the world. Challenge and growth will be waiting for you when you’re ready.

The key is not staying in one mode for too long. Comfort is necessary and wonderful, but in a vacuum, stifles growth and feeds complacency. True growth lies in knowing when to push yourself and when to rest, ensuring you’re not just surviving, but also thriving.


bottom of page