Voluntary Discomfort – How to Improve As a Person

Voluntary Discomfort – How to Improve As a Person

Today, we are going to talk about why it is so important to practice voluntary discomfort in order to grow mentally and physically

Marco Aurelio, Epictetus and Seneca knew that life is made up of ups and downs. Pain and pleasure. Happiness and sadness. Peaks and valleys.

It seems that we have forgotten this and we are starting to pay the price. While our lives lack philosophy, we rely on anxiolytics and sedatives of all kinds.

We have forgotten how to control the pain, anger or frustration. Even worse, we see them as diseases.

If you think this is an atypical post, you are absolutely right

The culture of speed

Most individuals live in a state of unconscious submission, guided by two fundamental principles:

  1. Avoiding pain
  2. Looking for immediate pleasure

This is inherent to all of us.


In other words, it is only natural to act this way and follow these two precepts

But we are heading to a dangerous path: avoiding discomfort at all costs can be dangerous: 

  • At a physical level, it triggers chronic diseases that could be easily avoided.
  • At a psychological level, some people become unable to face the most common challenges. Consequently, many suffers anxiety, impulsiveness, bad decisions, insomnia and restlessness.

To put it simply: madness

However, I am not saying that we should wake up and torture ourselves before going to work, or walk barefoot, not eat, or any other way of self-inflected punishments that would not provide a single benefit.

Not at all, I am talking about restoring the balance

Humans are incredible beings that are capable of adapting to almost anything. We could even say that we are immortal as a species. In fact, we have survived our own mistakes, some of them almost irrevocable. We have been exposed to the cold, hunger, war.

And here we are

What would happen if, all of a sudden, all those things that make life a little bit difficult just disappeared?

  • Madness.
  • A lack of purpose.
  • Existential angst.
Then, if I have a job and money, everything is fine, should I just get rid of it? No, that is when voluntary discomfort comes into play

How to practice Voluntary Discomfort?

Voluntary discomfort is just a way of improving your physical and mental health by restoring that lost balance.

  • You will become stronger, more resilient.
  • Also, you will exercise muscles that you would not use in any other routine.
  • More importantly, you will become a better human being.
  • Expose yourself to discomfort.

Physical tiredness

If they think you are crazy or you simply do not want to share it, do not tell anyone

This is your personal challenge. You do not have to post it on your social media. It is you against yourself.

Here you have five ways to increase your discomfort levels:

1. Cold showers

Do you know Wim Hof?

Beyond the scientific validity of his statements, the story of Wim Hof may help you a lot. Wim is the living example of self-imposed discomfort.

After his wife committed suicide, he decided to take control of his life in an unconventional way: cold. Exposing ourselves to the cold produces a particular neuroendocrine response that we can discuss in another post.

But interestingly enough, there are few things that make us as uncomfortable as the cold. Next time you take a shower, turn the tap to the blue side.

2. Go further in your workouts

Push yourself in every workout.

  • More weight (with good technique) if you are a bodybuilder.
  • Faster or further if your thing is running.
  • Better times in your WODs if you are a Crossfitter.

Obviously, this means that you will suffer pain and discomfort if you want to improve. See it as your daily dose of self-imposed discomfort.

Personally, this is one of the reasons why I love CrossFit. In fact, each workout is a personal challenge that will make you feel new levels of discomfort and pain.

3. Intermittent fasting will help you mentally

It is the new trend, intermittent fasting has come to stay. However, nobody talks about its psychological benefits.

Having food available and choosing not to eat it is an act of willpower. Actually, willpower is like a muscle, you can exercise it. But few actually do so.

When hunger strikes, remember this post.

4. Technological fasting

The culture of speed is based on technology and the addiction to it.

Scrolling through the Instagram feed is a drug and you are constantly exposed to it.

Doing technological fasting will also strengthen your brain.

5. Face your fears

For example, you are scared of speaking in public.

Well, look for a group of 5 or 10 people and speak. It does not matter what it is. You can try in your next family reunion or a meeting. It does not matter. Above all, your objective should be to temporarily expose yourself to what makes you uncomfortable. In fact, it does not matter if you are a good speaker or if what you say makes any sense at all.

What matters is that you face your fears.


You will be able to restore the balance through these examples or you can come up with your own methods.

Perhaps, you will not realize, but something in your head will click and everything will make sense.

The periods of rest will be incredible. You will look forward to the next meal. Life will change its colors and you will be hopeful once again. But this will take a lot of discipline.

See you in the next post. If this was helpful at all, help others too by sharing this post with them. Cheers!

Related Entries

  • Let’s talk about how to improve your willpower.
  • For athletes, a strong mindset equals success.
  • Why even do CrossFit at all?
Voluntary Discomfort Review

Self-improvement - 100%

Culture of Speed - 100%

Examples of Voluntary Discomfort - 100%

Conclusions - 100%


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About Borja Bandera
Borja Bandera
Borja Bandera, a young doctor dedicated to the areas of nutrition, exercise and metabolism, combines his clinical activity with his vocation for dissemination.
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