Secrets to Fulfilled Life, Part 3

Another post about the Secrets to a Fulfilled Life … inspired by this article from Oliver Burkeman.

One of his secrets is simply:

The capacity to tolerate minor discomfort is a superpower.

He says, “It’s shocking to realise how readily we set aside even our greatest ambitions in life, merely to avoid easily tolerable levels of unpleasantness.”

My, my. Doesn’t that just sum up stuttering and being covert perfectly? I think back occasionally to a lot of things I wish I had done. Or decisions I had made solely based on stuttering. It’s impacted so many formative years for me. And why? Because I didn’t want to be laughed at, made uncomfortable. Or didn’t want to feel so small.

Things now are very different. Advertising my stutter. Putting my disfluency out there all the time — conference calls, meetings, inquiries at Home Depot. And what have I learned?

As he puts it, “You already know it won’t kill you to endure the mild agitation of getting back to work on an important creative project; initiating a difficult conversation with a colleague; asking someone out; or checking your bank balance – but you can waste years in avoidance nonetheless.”

So yes, I will continue to quote his entire paragraph on the matter. He then adds (which, again, is something I’ve been able to do over many, many years…)

It’s possible, instead, to make a game of gradually increasing your capacity for discomfort, like weight training at the gym. When you expect that an action will be accompanied by feelings of irritability, anxiety or boredom, it’s usually possible to let that feeling arise and fade, while doing the action anyway. The rewards come so quickly, in terms of what you’ll accomplish, that it soon becomes the more appealing way to live.

I really wish I had read this while a teenager, but I also wish I had someone to explain it to me simply. I probably wouldn’t have been able to make the connection to stuttering like I do so easily now. I think it would have been very helpful during my formative years to have a mentor or coach to help me with my stuttering journey. Someone who could ask and probe. Suggest a new way, a slightly uncomfortable way, but a way that would yield a lot of results.

The way my life is now is certainly more appealing. Even comparing it to 5 or 10 years ago. I no longer measure in weeks and months. I’m old enough now to realize change takes a lot longer than that.

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