What Dogs Have Taught Me: Learn to be Uncomfortable

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Hi friends! I haven’t been feeling overly creative this past week, so I wanted to go for something a little different. I wanted to talk about something I’ve learned from watching all of the dogs I’ve owned in my lifetime.

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Sounds weird right? Why would we ever want to intentionally cause discomfort, especially to ourselves? Bear with me, friends. First, lets look at some definitions:

1. Slight pain
1. Make (someone) feel uneasy, anxious, or embarrassed
1. causing or feeling slight pain or physical discomfort
2. Causing or feeling unease or awkwardness

Slight. Uneasy. Anxious. Awkwardness. These are the words I want to focus on. Those things don’t seem quite as bad as discomfort—I think we can all deal with unease, anxiety, and feeling awkward or embarrassed when we have to. Why is it that, when given the chance, we so adamantly steer ourselves away from situations that make us feel uneasy or awkward? The answer, friends, is because humans love to feel comfortable. But comfort is something that scares me. The desire for comfort stems from the fear of change. Let’s face it: change is uncomfortable. It causes unease and anxiety and maybe even pain. This fear of change leads us to complacency, the number one enemy shared by every single one of us. It stops everything in its tracks—creativity, growth, and yes—change. As humans, we crave stability, which often takes the form of comfort, and we have gone to great, ingenious lengths as a society to ensure our comfort. And I, in no way, want to go backwards. I mean, do any of us really want a life without toilet paper? And I certainly couldn’t live without caffeine being a push of a button away. What I’m talking about is discomfort on a much smaller scale.

Have you ever found your dog sleeping in the most ass-backwards position you could imagine? My older husky-mix, Dakota, does this ALL. THE. TIME. It doesn’t look comfortable in any sense of the word, but she seems to enjoy it.

Have you ever taken your dog for a walk in the rain, miserable the entire time, wanting to turn back and go home with each step, only to keep on walking because your little fur friend is just so damned happy to be on a walk with their favorite human? I once took my border collie, Brody, to the dog park and had to literally force him to stop playing because he’d been running so much and so hard that the pads of his paws were blistered, but he just wanted to keep going.

Tala was spayed this week. Waking up after surgery hurts, you can’t tell me it doesn’t. But that didn’t stop my little munchkin from hopping up into her favorite chair or plodding around the backyard with her stubby legs. She didn’t whine the slightest at any of her movements. I’ve heard grown men kick up a bigger fuss at just the thought of having to sit in an uncomfortable chair.

Dogs don’t care that they’re wet. They don’t care that it’s cold outside. They don’t care if they’re hurting. They could not give less of a f*** about how uncomfortable they might be, they just want to live in the moment and keep on doing the new things and sniffing the new smells because that’s what brings joy to their lives. Us humans could definitely learn a thing our two from dogs.

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Learn to be uncomfortable. Seek it out. And learn to enjoy it. Do at least one thing that makes you uncomfortable every single day. This is a philosophy I’m trying my best to live by. And it doesn’t have to be big. I’m not saying go stand in the freezing cold until your nose falls off. I’m not saying go run 20 miles in the pouring down rain. Discomfort doesn’t have to be big—remember that word from earlier that I wanted to focus on—slight. In fact, I chose photos of Brody to go along with this post because, for him, staying still while an unfamiliar and strange activity is taking place is EXTREMELY uncomfortable and causes him THE MOST anxiety. But he was a trooper and powered through the taking of these photos without a single whine—okay, maybe he whined once.

If you’re like me, what you find that “uncomfortable” changes from day to day. Some days “uncomfortable” is walking my dogs in the rain and the cold. I’m a complete wuss when it comes to this. I absolutely hate being half drenched and fully freezing. Some days a conversation with a stranger is enough to drain me. That’s my uncomfortable thing for the day. Other times that won’t phase me in the slightest. Some days housework seems like the bane of my existence and it takes every ounce of willpower just to get the dishes done. Other days I’m like Mary Poppins and the entire house is scoured in less than an hour. Some days getting through my workout leaves me a sweating, gasping mess on the floor, with Dakota hovering over me wondering if her human is going to survive. Other days exercising is a breeze and I have to stop myself from overdoing it. But these are the things that make my life fuller. I know this. I also know that if I let myself, I’ll stay away from them, and be very content to do it, thanks to that old foe—complacency.

Complacency is something I battle every day. Some days it wins and I spend my day wrapped in a blanket on the couch. But most days I win. I try to do one thing that makes me uncomfortable every day. Some days everything slides into place—everything I do is easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy and I find myself with nothing uncomfortable to do. What then? That’s when it’s time to step out of your comfort zone, even just a little bit.

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So, do you guys think I’m crazy yet? I won’t say I’m not, because it might be a lie—depends on which day you talk to me. I’d love to hear some of things that are out of your comfort zone—whether it’s something as simple as sitting in a cafe alone or as big as public speaking.

sign off

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