Ode to Discomfort

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m in love with being comfortable — almost to a fault. Yoga pants, any kind of carb, a year-round space heater, a big comfy couch and did I mention yoga pants? I guess I could be compared to a Hobbit in the Shire. Why leave my comfort zone when it’s just so….comfy? (And the alternative is just so…not).

Well, (despite all my best efforts ) I’ve been uncomfortable a lot lately; training for the California 10/20 Run and learning the ins-and-outs of cancer care, while trying still to navigate my own life’s plan. But while spending all this time away from my comfort zone, I’m starting to understand what discomfort really means.

I’ve learned that discomfort is both voluntary and involuntary. It’s mental, emotional and physical. Discomfort is sickness and health. Discomfort is fear, sadness and uncertainty. It’s shock, surprise and anticipation. Discomfort is failure and success.

I’ve actually begun to sort of enjoy all this discomfort (not in like a masochistic, chains and whips sort of way). It’s just, I now understand that discomfort is fleeting — but it’s effects are lasting. Discomfort builds strength and power. Discomfort is a teacher, a guide. Discomfort breeds warriors, survivors and heroes. Discomfort is a challenge and it’s a life lesson. Discomfort is a mentor, a coach and a trainer preparing me for the road ahead — because greatness is not achieved by being comfortable.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always love being comfy.  In fact, discomfort has actually deepened my love affair with comfort. By feeling uncomfortable, I’m expanding my comfort zone (adding acreage to my Shire, so to speak) and giving myself the gift of contentment under any circumstance.

So, while I’m counting out cancer meds or running my way up a big ol’ hill, I know I’m in training. I know my discomfort is coaching me along as I build the strength and endurance to take on all the tough stuff that lies ahead.

So, here’s to you, discomfort. I owe all my comfort to you.

(And a special shout out to yoga pants — I couldn’t do it without you.)



Discomfort is very much part of my master plan.

— Jonathan Lethem


22 thoughts on “Ode to Discomfort

  1. Thank you so much for this! Your piece reminds me what one of my favorite yoga instructors once said: our normal response to discomfort is to flee it, to escape…but sometimes all you can do is surrender to it. It is there that we really get to know who we are. I truly believe that there is no way to grow when we are smack dab in the middle of our comfort zones. I think of that often. Also, discomfort is indeed the ‘yin’ to comfort’s ‘yang’! Balance! It is a lovely thing when it can be achieved (or even just acknowledged…)

  2. So very true Hannah! Without discomfort, we don’t grow! You are wise! Well written too! I am praying for you family and your dad!

  3. Yes, your do know how to write about life. As it relates to health issues in your family, for others who are going through times with unemployment, family problems, etc. your words of discomfort fit so well.

    I do hope Loren isn’t in too much discomfort at this time. I am sending him my prayers and thoughts for peace in whatever he is feeling.

  4. Hannah, your clarity while being “in the trenches” is such an inspiration to us all. I’m wishing you strength and peace in all your endeavors. You are truly special!

  5. Dear Hannah. You hit the nail on the head for sure again. So many painful events in our lifetime are really learning and strength building events. You have learned this at a very early age under adverse times. Especially when someone we love is undergoing life changes that affect us as well. You are a great spirit and you handle adversity like a trooper. Everyone enjoys your blogs as well as your dads. We feel like you are all family as you have been in our homes, via tv, for so long. Prayers continue your way for all.

  6. Well said… I have found this to be true!

    “Discomfort builds strength and power. Discomfort is a teacher, a guide. Discomfort breeds warriors, survivors and heroes. Discomfort is a challenge and it’s a life lesson. Discomfort is a mentor, a coach and a trainer preparing me for the road ahead.”

  7. So perceptive, you make your father proud, I’m sure!
    Here is a silly song about yoga pants by a funny comedian, I hope you enjoy it!

  8. You have such a gift Hannah! Thank you for poetically sharing this experience that your family is living. I’ve never met you, but by twists of fate I first saw you when you were a baby, sitting on your Dad’s lap (and news desk) while he was reporting on the Loma Prieta earthquake. I watched from my living room in Redwood City, with my 10 month old daughter on my lap. Years later you girls played against each other in volleyball here in San Diego! I have spoken to your Dad a couple times and have tremendous respect for him that just keeps growing. As a health care professional, I see kids and families fight cancer each day. The insight you are so adept at articulating truly is a gift~ and one that you and your family share with such openess. Thank you, and God Bless!

  9. You are very wise.
    Although I have not met you, I can tell from your writing style that you are very much like your father, who I admire for his environmental thinking, and sense of humor. God Bless!

  10. Wow, another really well-written blog! You are so right about discomfort and what it can teach us. I’ve learned that from my own experiences. You develop a new appreciation for a lot of the simple things in life (like yoga pants) and the people you love as well. It also teaches compassion like no other and shows you the strength you never knew you had. And while driving down this rocky road of discomfort, sitting around in waiting rooms and at hospital bedsides, yoga pants are almost a required uniform! You have to take comfort wherever you can! Hugs.

  11. YOUR best post yet Miss Hannah…and I can totally relate. Not always easy being the “grasshopper” in training when you’re tire of the Kung Fu. But…we must fight on. All my love to you Nancarrows.

  12. Pingback: The blessing of discomfort: a note to successful people. | Reflections for Personal and Business Development

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