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I don’t know about you,but I was without access to the internet all Friday long. It was both relaxing and fatiguing at the same time. To drive that vibe home, a young guy walked into Bang on Friday evening asking for internet access. “A tuppence of data, guv’ner?”
The lack of data got me thinking about what’s happening whenever I unconsciously reach for my phone. I have noticed that this happens more when I’m feeling a vague sense of discomfort. This is not a fluke. Social media is great at distracting us in these moments—like a micro-dose of pain medication. And when that discomfort is borne of not checking your phone? The whole feedback loop begins to devour its own tail. This is where TikTok engineers high-five each other—and then surf down a mountain of your personal data like Scrooge McDuck.
Last week, I shared some new terms: dissociative vs mindful resilience. As a quick recap, the former is when we zone out to get through a tough challenge. The latter is what we can stay present for. To stay present longer, we can work on training our discomfort tolerance. That’s part of what we do through exercise. We choose to do things that challenge us. And when we notice that we’re tired or want to stop, we hang on just a tiny bit longer. It doesn’t take much to improve. Leaps are not required. Just stretches.
I’ve often written about how exercise just needs to be a bit uncomfortable to trigger adaptation; suffering is not required. There’s another reason for stretches instead of leaps, though. Discomfort tolerance—resilience, really—is rooted in accurate appraisal. That’s because it’s not about pumping yourself up with grandiose ideas about your abilities. Nor is it about being excessively hard on yourself. It’s less emotional than that. It’s really about your ability to make highly accurate predictions. So, if you think you can do it, you probably can. Actually, let me be more precise: if you think you can do it, you have a <95% shot. That’s real confidence.
And when you’re off, it won’t be by much. So, errors are neither catastrophic nor are they likely to send you into an emotional tailspin. You simply update your data. You calibrate it. Here, you come to appreciate failures because they’re windows into the present moment and better future predictions. Your discomfort tolerance grows. You outwardly appear tougher but the far more human truth is that you’re really just leaving expectations behind and connecting with the present moment—and that feels good.