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No Discomfort, No Growth



“No discomfort, no growth” is a mindful approach to the popular expression “no pain, no gain.” Author and professor of behavioral science and marketing, Ayelet Fishbach, came to that conclusion after taking a class at The Second City, Chicago’s famous improvisational club. Noticing her own discomfort while participating in the exercises, she was inspired to partner with Kaitlin Woolley and conduct a series of studies to monitor the trajectory of those who embraced discomfort versus those who avoided it.


Through their study, they learned that the uncomfortable feeling Fishbach had during the improv class was a sign the exercise was working. She would gain more from the activity if she leaned into that discomfort. The same sentiment was voiced across multiple aspects of the study. Participants who were invited to seek discomfort: took more risks in improvisation classes, engaged more in an expressive writing exercise, and opened themselves up more when facing new and uncomfortable information.


Their research suggests that viewing discomfort as a sign of progress and actively seeking it out can boost our motivation to put more effort into uncomfortable situations. The same way muscle ache is a signal you’re getting in shape, moderate emotional discomfort is a signal you’re developing as a person.

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