Intentional discomfort

A soldier prepares for battle through tough training which simulates the actual war. Potential soldiers are rigorously trained, deprived of sleep and food, and endure all sorts of hardship during training. This tough training prepares them for the actual wars they will inevitably face someday.

The game of life is very similar. Life is full of challenges and we need to prepare ourselves to face these challenges head-on. One way to prepare for adversity is to intentionally create discomfort in your life. This mentally prepares you to deal with the troubles life may throw at you. For example, sometimes I intentionally don’t drive to work and use public means instead. This is quite a humbling experience if you are used to a private car. This exercise allows me to treat a car as a normal thing which I can do without. It also reminds me that a car is a privilege which the majority do without. Plus I get to interact with random strangers and observe what the real society looks like.

Another way I create intentional discomfort is living way below my means. You could easily pass me without any care in the streets. I have driven the same old vehicle for over 11 years. I rarely buy new clothes. I rarely upgrade my lifestyle even when my means have improved. Living below my means allows me to view money as it should be. Money is just an enabler and is not to be used to keep up appearances.

There are many other ways I have tried to create intentional discomfort in my life. I have tried to stay out of debt as much as possible. If I can’t pay cash for something, then I simply don’t buy it. I have also accelerated my savings rate to over fifty percent. Which means I spend less than half of everything I earn. The rest is invested in different projects. I have also invested in a business which is quite uncomfortable for me. Investing in a start-up is a high-risk activity and is one of the hardest ways to make money. But it prepares you for life without a job. It teaches you many things you would never appreciate in a normal job.

I publish a daily blog about financial literacy which is also quite discomforting. It would be much easier to lead a quiet existence without all the trouble. But the blog has allowed me to learn how to express myself, develop expertise, clarify my thoughts, meet new people, handle criticism, help some people, and make some little money.

You can also create intentional discomfort by exercising, eating vegetables, reading books, reducing TV and social media intake, taking cold showers, taking risks, delaying gratification, fasting, abstaining from alcohol, etc. These hard things will train you to be stronger to face the world and all its problems.

Intentional discomfort is a psychological hack which allows you to enjoy your wealth without being overly attached to it. Yes, you can drive a cool car, but if you were to lose it tomorrow, you wouldn’t be overly distraught. Practicing intentional discomfort enables you to enjoy the simple things in life while remaining humble and grateful. It also prepares you for adversity.

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