The struggle only makes you stronger.

You learn better when you aim for discomfort.

That’s what the new study suggests: “What if, instead of tolerating discomfort (e.g., feeling awkward or uncomfortable), people actively sought it out?”

In a series of experiments, hundreds of students in Chicago completed a series of exercises. One group was told their goal was to “feel themselves developing new skills,” while the other group was told their goal was to “feel awkward and uncomfortable”.

Guess which group persisted longer and took greater risks? Yes, it was the students who actively sought out and embraced discomfort.

Think about that for a minute. It’s actually a powerful indicator that we can use in two ways:

  1. We can actively seek out discomfort and choose the learning opportunities that give us more of that feeling.

  2. We can “measure” how effective our learning is by measuring our current level of discomfort! “I feel awkward and uncomfortable with today’s topic” == “Yay, I’m learning something!”

Source: Woolley, K., & Fishbach, A. (2022). Motivating Personal Growth by Seeking Discomfort. Psychological Science, 33(4), 510-523.