Dealing with discomfort: One Habit Successful People Have That Most Others Don’t

by Gideon Hanekom
December 11, 2018

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The one big reason why some people are always more successful than other people is because they have different habits. They simply do certain things differently and more consistently than others. And there are of course many different habits successful people possess that the rest of the masses don’t, but, there is one that stands out – dealing with discomfort.

Successful people can deal very well with discomfort. 

They are OK when things are uncomfortable because the benefit(s) of the eventual goal they’re pursuing outweighs the short-term discomfort they must endure.

But, unsuccessful people, for the most part, don’t.

In fact, they will do almost anything to avoid feeling discomfort.

And so consequently, successful people can get themselves to do the things that others don’t want to do, which means, they end up achieving the results most others want to achieve but never do.

dealing with discomfort

Know what’s truly interesting, is that successful people actually also don’t really want to do some of these things either.

The difference is, however, they don’t let that stop them.

They just find a way to do it anyway, irrespective of how they feel.

So, why is this important to you?

Well, since we’re in the last month of this year where many people start thinking about how they might want to improve their lives next year, I thought this to be quite relevant right now.

I’m not sure if you have bigger or better goals for the New Year.

I don’t know if you want to stop doing something, or maybe, start doing something.

And it doesn’t really matter.

The truth is that irrespective of what it is that you would like to achieve, more or less of, you would need to appreciate this reality about successful people.

And it’s important to understand that we’re not just talking about material success here.

Any type of success demand that you become comfortable with discomfort for short periods of time, which could also last for a while at times.

If you want to lose weight – you will need to become comfortable with the feeling of discomfort a new way of eating and exercising will create. 

If you want to improve your marriage – you will also need to learn to become comfortable with the feeling of discomfort of extending grace when your usual approach included criticism.

If you want to improve your finances – you will need to become comfortable with the feeling of discomfort that less spending money creates when you’re trying to save more income.

The list goes on and on.

Feeling discomfort needs to become comfortable.

But how do you do that?

Good question.

Here are a few ideas for a process you can adopt straight away to help you become more comfortable with feeling discomfort.

increasing your ability for dealing with discomfort

1. Start with something easy, but meaningful.

This could be going for a walk, meditating for 20 minutes, or reading each night.

Find something that isn’t too challenging but will have a positive impact on your life.

Then commit to it.

2. Continue until you feel uncomfortable.

Take part in that activity and keep going until you begin to feel uncomfortable.

This might take the form of mild physical discomfort, annoyance, boredom, or any other negative feeling.

But just stick with it.

3. Examine your discomfort.

Now that you’re uncomfortable, notice how it feels.

  • Where do you feel it?
  • How would you rate its intensity on a scale of 1 to 10?

Just notice the physical feeling.

What happens after you pay attention to it for a while?

4. Relax and smile.

Now, relax your body, smile, and continue.

When you want to quit, repeat the process again.

When the urge to quit happens for the third time, allow yourself to stop.

Now, this is powerful because you’re breaking the habit of quitting the first time you feel like stopping – which is what most people do.

You’re teaching yourself that you can continue, even when you’re uncomfortable.

The cool thing about this is that the more you do it the more this skill will grow.

You just have two keep practising and pushing your discomfort zone out.

5. Keep building this skill.

Now, choose a more challenging activity or increase the duration of the current activity.

It’s important not to do this prematurely, but when you do feel ready and you’ve succeeded with coping with mild levels of discomfort, feel free to push yourself a bit. 

You’ll soon be able to suffer through almost anything with a smile on your face.

It’s important to remember that like many things in life, dealing with discomfort is simple, but not necessarily easy.

However, it’s such an incredibly valuable skill to have, it’s worth all the discomfort it takes to develop it.

In fact, I can’t think of many other skills like this one that could be more valuable to have at your command, and this one.

Now, maybe you’re sold on the concept but you’re still slightly unclear about how you can use this in your life.

So let me give you a few everyday applications for using the skill.

Everyday application for dealing with discomfort:


Don’t feel like eating vegetables and always craving rubbish food?

Well, sticking to a nutritious and healthy diet is dependent on your ability to deal with discomfort in the short run, both physical and psychological.


It’s hard to get your running shoes or Gi on at 5 AM in the morning and get out the door.

But overcoming this momentary discomfort is a big part of developing an exercise habit and getting in shape.


Procrastination is all about avoiding discomfort.

Interestingly, however, we procrastinate until the pain of not doing it becomes greater than the pain of doing it. 

So why not short-circuit the process?


It’s not always easy to sit down and practice the piano, learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu when you’re 40 years old, or work on your Hebrew language skills. 

But when we stop growing we start dying (declining). 

Continuous learning is crucial for your brain development as well as age management. 


Chores are also a great way to practice your discomfort management skills.

They need to be done, and they’re usually not too painful. 

But they have heaps of benefit for the well-being of your marriage or love relationship.

Also, as a man, you get the added benefit of turning your wife on (women find men who do chores quite sexy). 

Seems worth it to me. 

Listen, the applications are endless.

I would actually argue that,

All of your current issues could be resolved more easily if you could just overcome the discomfort of implementing the solutions.

Unless you’ve been dealt a really crappy hand by the Universe, chances are that most challenges in your life can be turned around (or at least be improved) by learning how to become comfortable with discomfort.

Because the reality is that if you want to be more successful, it’s important to start doing the things you know you should be doing.

But why don’t we do them?

Because, like most people, feel uncomfortable at the mere thought of doing something challenging or that stretches us.

But, you can change that beginning today.

Start by building your ability to overcome discomfort and you’ll find reaching greater heights of success becoming a lot easier than you ever thought possible.

It’s the most valuable skill you can ever have.

Live and love fully my Friend!

About the author 

Gideon Hanekom

Gideon Hanekom is the creator of, a renowned relationship blog that ranks among the top 50 relationship blogs in 2024. The website shares valuable insights on creating healthy relationships life. Gideon holds a Master's degree in theological studies and transitioned into professional counseling more than a decade ago. In addition, he since completed post-graduate studies in Psychology at Massey University. With over seventeen years of marriage to his wife and two children, Gideon brings both professional and personal experience to his relationship advice. His articles have been featured on respected platforms such as and The Good Men Project.

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