Study Sunday: Discomfort and Personal Growth

🤔 The Question — 

Can seeing discomfort as a sign of progress boost personal growth? A new study published on Tuesday finds that seeking discomfort can enhance motivation, persistence, emotional resilience, and more. 

⭐️ The Significance — 

The way you think about situations (reappraisal) can have powerful outcomes. 

E.g., previous research found that reframing anxiety as excitement enhanced performance. 

Reframing discomfort as growth is another promising mindset: 

“Although personal growth is difficult to detect, people know when they feel uncomfortable. They can use this as a cue that they are advancing toward their goal and be motivated to persist.” 

🧪 The Study — 

The first of five experiments took place across 55 improvisation classes at the Second City training center in Chicago.

Half of the improvisers embraced a “discomfort=growth” mindset. They were told to interpret awkwardness or uncomfortableness as a signof progress. 

The discomfort group was then compared with a control group. Their levels of persistence were measured along with risk-taking and sense of growth. 

⚡️ The Findings — 

The group who viewed discomfort as growth persisted with the exercise for 44% longer on average than the control group! Their level of risk-taking behavior was also rated 14% higher and they reported significantly higher feelings of progress. 

The other four experiments all replicated these results with discomfort-as-growth leading to enhanced emotional resilience in a writing task, openness to new information, and tolerance of opposing views. 

💎 The Takeaway — 

Growth is often uncomfortable. Whether it’s getting up in front of an audience, processing tough emotions, or pushing your physical limits: embracing discomfort can boost motivation and strengthen resolve. 

The next time you feel that resistance, lean in. Or as David Goggins put it — embrace the suck

👀 The Caveats — 

  • Sometimes discomfort such as intense physical or emotional pain is a genuine sign that you should stop. This type of discomfort should not be ignored. 
  • The study only included U.S. participants. 

This article was written by Lewis Kallow of Super Self.

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@alysemccamish 12 months ago

Interesting! Have been trying to read more scientific studies on personal growth, so really enjoying this comprehensive breakdown series which makes it feel more accessible and applicable to everyday life 👍🏼

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