Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new. – Brian Tracy
It’s been said that humans can get used to anything.
But I never got used to squat toilets.
I didn’t get used to the unappetizing stench and, uh, messy scenery.
I didn’t get used to the awkward, sometimes cramp-inducing posture.
And I didn’t get used to the unpleasant truth that everyone (myself included) was walking around with piss on their shoes!
But not getting used to something—difficult as it may be to bear in the short-term—isn’t all bad.
…I just returned to the US after spending a year in China.
Unsurprisingly, it was transformative—as travel often tends to be. And as that year began, I knew I wasn’t heading into a serene, picturesque vacation. There would be no top-notch wine, no quaint seaside cottage stays. There would be bodily fluids on the streets, random power outages and pork shavings in everything (everything). And that was okay. I knew that the discomfort would be intermingled with plenty of debauchery and adventure, and I was ready for some boundary-stretching, some comfort zone-breaking.
I just didn’t expect the plumbing, of all things, to make such an impact.
The next time you’re faced with a, well, smelly situation, keep in mind that there’s something greater at work. You’re in the midst of a change-filled moment, and if you recognize it, you may actually walk away a happier person.
Here’s how a year of squat toilets transformed me, and how an equally repugnant scenario can do the same for you.
The 3 Ways Squat Toilets Made me a Happier Person
1. You Get Stronger
I mean this in both an emotional and physical sense. While challenging situations push your internal limits and reveal just how much you’re truly capable of, they also (in some cases) strengthen your body, as well. After a year of the daily extra workout that was required simply to use the bathroom, I can confidently say that my thighs are more muscular, my legs more flexible.
2. You Get More Creative
Someone left a mess that you have to either clean up (no thanks) or stand in (ugh)? Time to invent a new yoga pose to get around that problem.
No doors on the stalls when you really need some privacy? Suddenly, a backpack/large scarf/winter coat becomes a pretty great stand-in barrier.
Worried about how unsanitary your hands now are, but there’s no sink in sight? Now’s a great time to learn the phrase or body language for “bottled water, please.”
3. You Learn to Really, Really Appreciate the Beauty in Life
Whatever you’re going through, I know it sucks. It’s difficult and potentially painful and maybe it literally stinks. But it’s not your whole life—it’s only a piece. And there are so many beautiful others that, had you not been pushed to your limits, you may not have noticed. Whereas I previously had barely acknowledged the existence of amenities like air fresheners or automatic toilets, I now smile like a kid on her birthday when a public restroom is puddle-free. The absence of convenience made its regained presence all the more strongly felt.
How have undesirable situations made you a better person? And how did you handle them as they happened?