On “Day Four” of our challenge, it is quite possible that our initial enthusiasm may be starting to get splashed a few drops of discomfort. Not that we would pretend there is NO discomfort in a challenge. In fact, most challenges of this nature have some (or a lot of) discomfort, stress, struggle, or even pain. The point is not simply to experience or even seek discomfort, as the ascetics might have done.

The point here is that, by challenging ourselves to do something beyond our present ability, we will actually improve ourselves. Get better. Grow. Develop. Strengthen. If you look up the definition of challenge, you will find among its meanings the idea of simulating especially by presenting difficulties (Merriam Webster online dictionary).

It’s not about the difficulties; it’s about what the difficulties stimulate. That principle applies across many domains, from plant and animal biology to human psychology. And, because we as individuals are really a complex of biology and sentience (awareness, ability to perceive sensations), we have the potential to become better, stronger organisms, depending on our response to challenge.

If – no, when – we find ourselves asking, “Are we having fun yet?” as we’re stretching ourselves with more walking, planking, swimming, biking, reaching out socially, kettlebells (those MUST count here), we’re probably in the right place. Doing a challenge, we need to be aware of those sensations; and we need to recognize that those difficult sensations can stimulate growth at many levels:  personal, emotional, cognitive, social, physical, and more. When we recognize this, we have the potential to “embrace” challenges and respond by growing.

When you find yourself at a growing edge in your life, you probably will experience some less-than-pleasant sensations. Knowing what you know, look for how you can grow stronger in the face of that  unpleasantness.

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