Each time I think about the times in life when I’ve learned the most, I think about the discomfort that taught me the lesson. In middle school, I learned compassion and understanding after spending each day being bullied. In high school, I learned how to be stronger after spending two years running for the best coach I’ve ever had. In college, I learned how to stand up for myself after staying in a bad relationship for too long.

Yet, enough about me. Think back to your past. Think about the worst situations you’ve been in. While they might have been awful to go through, I would be willing to bet that you’ve learned a lot from them in the years since. In truth, it doesn’t have to be a “bad” experience that teaches you a lesson. For example, seven months ago, I wouldn’t walk a mile to the grocery store.

Being a Nomad Teaches You Priorities

Now, I will walk three miles just to get to something I want to look at. What’s happened? A town called Warringstown in Northern Ireland. When we were staying there (for two months), we had to walk three miles to the local Lidl and then three miles back (with bags) just to get food each week. If we wanted to go into town (Belfast), then we had to walk three miles, take a train into town, and walk to where we wanted to go.

It taught me a valuable lesson about sustainability and my limits. Walking somewhere isn’t hard. All it takes is a bit more planning and a bit more drive. No to mention, it’s better for the Earth! I’d be willing to say it was the biggest lesson I’ve learned since moving out of my home in Atlanta back in May. So, what’s that mean for you?

1. Put Yourself in Uncomfortable Situations

While I don’t recommend staying miles from civilization without a car, it forced me to walk six miles each Sunday or risk going hungry! That’s why I say everyone should force themselves into a situation that they would never have thought they could handle. For example, pay in advance for a half-marathon. Now, you have to train.

On the other hand, take a trip to a country whose language you can’t speak with no plan. Then deal with everything once you get there. Chances are, you’ll be just fine. Something might go wrong, but you’ll learn more about yourself along the way. Peter McWilliams once said, “Comfort zones are most often expanded through discomfort.”

2. Trust Yourself by Meditation

I know you can do anything you put your mind to. Anyone can! That’s why the first step in growth is to believe that you can. While putting yourself in different situations can teach you to trust yourself, you need a foundation before you can dive in the deep end. After six months of traveling the world full-time as a digital nomad, I’ve learned that looking in is the best way to grow as a person.

Sure, walking six miles for food, going homeless for two days, or even living in countries that don’t speak English taught me a lot. Yet, nothing has taught me as much as learning to sit still, close my eyes, and breathe. After all, we live in a world of movement. We think we have to do something day in and day out. Maybe what makes you most uncomfortable (much like me) is just to stay still and breathe.

Who is Ashley Madden?

Hey! I’m Ashley. I’m a free-spirited digital nomad traveling the world for one year before moving home to create an organic event farm. I’m a freelancer that specializes in marketing, content creation, and executive coaching from nonprofits and social enterprises. My goal is simple, to change the world to be a better place. You can learn more about me here or contact me via social media, where we can chat!