Excerpt: How to Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

Ben Aldridge’s new book How to Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable (published June 9th!) offers a selection of strange and wonderful challenges designed to take you out of your comfort zone and into the unknown. Ben shows you that learning new skills, mental and physical, will help you to cultivate a stronger, healthier, more resilient mindset to face your everyday challenges.

In that moment I decided to stare fear and anxiety in the face and work through my ambitious list of challenges, all in the name of self-improvement. I didn’t know how long it would take but decided that I would try to do as many as possible in a year. I felt that a year would be a good amount of time for me to test out the theory properly and see how my mindset changed. If it didn’t work, I could always stop doing the challenges and try an alternative approach. The “comfort zone challenges” were ready for action and I declared this personal project my “Year of Adversity”. Cue a Rocky-inspired training montage in your head. That’s pretty much what happened next. Well, almost . . .

The Year of Adversity was the most important of my life to date. Thanks to those challenges, I now have a selection of unusual hobbies and interesting skills. I’ve also had a bunch of crazy and wonderful experiences that I won’t ever forget. Some of these are fantastic dinner stories and have certainly left me with plenty of great memories. I’ve achieved so much in my year, from running marathons and climbing mountains to walking over 160km (100 miles) in four days along the Cotswold Way. I can now have a conversation in Japanese and have an official exam qualification in the language. This is something I could never have imagined achieving as I’ve always felt hopeless at languages. I’ve learned how to pick locks, solve a Rubik’s cube in under a minute and memorize the order of a deck of cards after seeing it only once (the ultimate party trick). I’ve been swimming in the British sea in winter, taken ice baths and slept on a beach in a bivvy bag in the middle of a thunderstorm (that was a very interesting experience). I’ve done loads of travelling and have eaten some repulsive insects along the way. I’ve also created a morning routine and rise very early to help me achieve more. With this new time, I’ve written a book (the one you’re currently reading) and have created a meditation routine. These are just the tip of the iceberg as to what this year has done for me.

The greatest result, though, is that I’m no longer filled with fear and I feel mentally strong. My anxiety is different now, and it’s something I’m able to talk about comfortably. I have a vast number of tools and tricks to use when things start to get difficult, and the confidence to deal with life’s problems head- on. I feel that I know more about myself thanks to this whole experience, and for that insight I feel extremely grateful.

I write all of this to impress upon you how powerful it can be for us to leave our comfort zones. Even if you’re someone who isn’t particularly anxious, there is still so much mental strength that you can personally foster by using this method of self-development. Having a coping mechanism for dealing with pressure and difficulties is a wise thing to invest in.

The main purpose of the book is to help you (yes, you) to cultivate your mental strength. I will share with you 43 of the most weird and wonderful challenges I have completed on this adventure and encourage you to give them a try. By tackling these challenges, you will be able to develop a personal strategy for dealing with difficulties and adversity. You can test out all of the tips I’m about to give you in the next section and learn to be as calm as a Zen master in a airport queue.

I also guarantee that you will have some wild and ridiculous experiences if you join me on this voyage of self-discovery. You’ll amass a wealth of fascinating stories to share (or brag about) and discover more about yourself as you tick challenges off the list and learn how to function effectively when you’re embracing the unknown.

How to Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable is available for preorder here (published June 9th!)