Our world has never been more convenient and comfortable. With just a few taps of our fingers, we can order food to our door, access endless entertainment options, and keep our climate at a steady 72 degrees. We don’t have to put in much effort, much less face any risk or challenge, in order to sustain our daily lives. 

In some ways, this quantum leap in humanity’s comfort level is a great boon. But in other ways, it’s absolutely killing our minds, bodies, and spirit.

My guest says it’s time to reclaim the currently-hard-to-come-by but truly essential benefits of discomfort. His name is Michael Easter, and he’s a writer, editor, and professor, and the author of The Comfort Crisis: Embrace Discomfort to Reclaim Your Wild, Happy, Healthy Self. Michael first shares how his experience with getting sober helped him discover the life-changing potential of doing hard things, before digging into what fleeing from discomfort is doing to our mental and physical health. We then discuss the Japanese idea of misogis, which involves taking on an epic outdoor challenge, and why Michael decided to do a misogi in which he participated in a month-long caribou hunt in the backcountry of Alaska. Michael shares what he learned from the various challenges he encountered during his misogi — including intense hunger, boredom, solitude, and physical exertion —as well as what research can teach all of us about why we need to incorporate these same kinds of discomforts into our everyday lives.

If reading this in an email, click the title of the post to listen to the show.

Show Highlights

Why getting sober kickstarted this discomfort journey for Michael Are there downsides to a comfortable 21st century lifestyle? Why does life feel harder, even though we have it pretty good?The Japanese practice of “misogi” Why Michael decided to do backcountry caribou hunting as his personal misogi Why novelty is so important to your perception of time The aching boredom that Michael felt in Alaska (and what he learned from it) The benefits of solitude What hunger taught Michael How human physical fitness has changed in the last few millennia

Resources/Articles/People Mentioned in Podcast

A Few Lessons From Beating the BottleHow I Learned to Be Comfortable Being UncomfortableWeird and Wonderful Ways to Get Comfortable Being UncomfortableShadow Work and the Rise of Middle-Class SerfdomThe One-Day-a-Year Fitness PlanAre Modern People the Most Exhausted in History?Why Are We Restless?How the Hero’s Journey Can Help You Become a Better ManBe a Time Wizard: How to Speed Up and Slow Down TimeWish You Had More Time? What You Really Want Is More MemoriesTake the One-Month “Do Something New Every Day” ChallengeThe Psychology of BoredomWhy Boredom Is Good for YouLessons on Solitude From an Antarctic ExplorerFasting as a Spiritual DisciplineThe psychology of hungerWhat You Can (Really) Learn About Exercise From Your Human AncestorsDon’t Just Lift Heavy, Carry HeavyBuilding Better Citizens Through RuckingCardio for the Man Who Hates Cardio


Connect With Michael

Michael’s website

Michael on Instagram

Michael on Twitter

Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)

Apple podcasts.

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