If I told you that you have to get on a direct flight that will last 15.5 hours, plus two other shorter flights before and after, how would you react?
If I were you, I would no doubt freak out. And if I could, I would politely excuse myself and do everything I can to not have to be on those planes!
Mangoes on tree
But what if that is the only way you can visit your family who you only see once a year, maybe, if you are lucky?
There is a valid reason why one would panic to think about such a torturous experience. I have lived through it enough times to tell you that there is nothing fun about it. The cramped, ever narrowing coach seat makes the long haul flights even worse regardless of the increased options of movies and entertainment in front of you (the food, as a side note, has not and will not improve).
I have a secret weapon to this insanity.
I tell my brain ahead of time that it will be okay. I will make it. I will survive. And it will all be worth it.
I plan on being uncomfortable.
Planning ahead works for everything that requires patience and discomfort, from these long flights, to getting a degree, to losing weight.
It boils down to how we manage our brain ahead of time.
I will talk more about this in future posts as there is much to be discussed! For the time being, I will just mention that there are two very important parts of the brain that come into play during these times: the conscious and the subconscious.
The subconscious brain is the more prevalent because it’s the part the brain that has to do with our survival. It is always ready to take charge in order to keep us alive.
If the subconscious brain feels uncomfortable (whether it’s the last 3 hours of the 15 hour flight, or if you are choosing to forego that brownie), it will react in unreasonable manners to keep us comfortable. But if we had planned ahead that we would be uncomfortable, and that it would be okay (this uses the conscious part of the brain), the likelihood of us responding (peacefully) instead of reacting negatively to the situation is so much greater.
That’s what happened to me a few days ago while I journeyed half the way across the world to get back to Thailand to see my family: I planned ahead. I planned on what to read, what to write, what to listen to. I also planned to be really uncomfortable, and bored, and miserably achy.
As it turned out, the longest flight of all (15+ hours) went rather uneventfully. I may have even spent a moment (once it was all over) saying to myself: “Well, that was not all that bad!”
Using the brain to our advantage is a great way to use a tool that we already have.
Try it… plan on being uncomfortable for something in your near future.
It may just blow your mind!