That headline is a quote from Ken Chlouber, Colorado miner and creator of the Leadville Trail 100 ultramarathon.

You don’t need to run an ultramarathon. You don’t even really need to make pain your friend. Almost all of us, though, could stand to become a bit (or perhaps a lot) more comfortable with discomfort. I wrote about this topic some years ago, and it bears repeating.

This article recently brought the concept back to my mind. As its author says, “We all need to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable. We’re soft!”

I think that’s true. It’s one of the concurrent benefits and drawbacks of our first-world modern life that our day-to-day existence may feature no pain or discomfort unless we go seeking it. But why, you ask, would we go seeking it?

Because NO life, no matter how pampered, has NO pain. Which is just great, until the unexpected pain comes along (and it will come along). As I said in this earlier blog post, “Learning to do things well when you’re in good shape can save your life when you’re in a bad way.” And one of the key things to learn is to handle discomfort.

But there’s constructive and destructive pain or discomfort. I’m not recommending you go out and break a leg, or starve yourself to near death. Probably the most constructive way to get comfortable with discomfort is a fitness program, where no improvement is made without some level of minor suffering. You get the double benefit of better health and an improved ability to handle being uncomfortable. (I count myself blessed that I enjoy bicycling and running.)

There are other constructive ways to learn to handle discomfort. Spending time outdoors, especially in adverse weather, is a good way – so long as you’re well prepared. Fasting is another way – and Lent is upon us, so there’s a ready opportunity for Catholics! Even just trying something new can add to your ability to deal with discomfort.

At the very least, then, find a way to make discomfort your acquaintance. You’ll be better able to handle it when it comes along unexpectedly.