Discomfort Helps us Grow

Stoics are philosophers who believe discomfort helps us grow.  And I firmly believe it’s the case.  But I take that further by saying that we can grow to love discomfort.  Stoics say, “A gem can’t be polished without friction, nor a man without trials.” So, let’s see how we can begin the process of discomfort.  After all, discomfort can take us to radical triumphs, extreme success, and great wealth.

Ice-cold showers: The stoics subjected themselves to ice-cold showers and cold-water immersion.  I take cold showers every morning, too.  At first, I was reluctant.  But cold showers are healthier for hair and autoimmune conditions.  Cold showers give us more energy in the day, unlike hot showers.  And cold showers economize the usage of water, as we’re in and out in a short time.  I love cold showers and can’t imagine a world without them.  If you dare to try them out, I bet you’ll come to love them, too.

Sleep deprivation: If seven to nine hours of sleep is in the healthy range for longevity, why not sleep seven hours a night?  I once thought nine to ten hours was optimal for me, and I even slept eleven hours.  But seven hours is revitalizing, and I never get sick with chronic fatigue anymore due to less sleep, weirdly.  Plus, seven hours of sleep gives us an academic and work edge.  I now have two more hours in a day to study and work.  Two hours a day works out to 14 hours a week.  We could take an extra course with that time savings—and graduate sooner.  Or geek out on our current courses to earn higher grades.  Or pursue a dream.  Or run a side business.  Time is money.  So, let’s get richer with seven hours of sleep.

Frugality: Minimizing possessions and expenditures for oneself is a great idea.  The Stoics think we should minimize our material wants and desires.  The only thing I buy outside of food and fitness sessions these days are educational courses.  But I spend a lot on education.  And that’s non-negotiable for me.  But if we also spend on other people rather than ourselves, we gain karma and joy.

Hard exercise.  This is the world’s best-kept secret.  While starting exercise can be a struggle, we are in for the high of our lives once we commit to strenuous exercise at least four days a week.  We feel better, look better, are more potent, and can do more work and studies.  We live longer, too.  Our memory and focus are sharpened.  Our senses and taste buds are heightened.  It’s like stepping into a fantasy world.  Our dreams become more realistic, too, given all the above.  And exercise strengthens our discipline, transferring that intense motivation to all areas of our lives.  Strenuous exercise often leads to overwhelming achievements in all aspects of our lives.  That’s why Olympians are often paid to give motivational speeches to corporations.

Hard work and studies: There is something to be said about hard work.  It develops resilience.  And hard work and studies make our lives richer—literally.  After all, hard effort yields more incredible growth and better opportunities.  People with master’s degrees tend to earn more than people with undergraduate degrees, for instance.  And people who’ve earned an undergraduate degree or certificate tend to make more than those with a high school diploma.  Better still, the harder we work or study, the more joyful the effort becomes.  The joy of persistent learning is analogous to learning to ride a bike.  We start repeatedly falling, even failing.  But with persistence, we develop the skill to speed cycle across a continent.  With hard work, anything is possible.

When I did martial arts, I was shocked that I loved getting kicked in the stomach.  When we reach a certain level of abdominal strength, a kick in the belly can shoot off endorphins.  And cold showers shoot off endorphins.  And hard work and learning can excite us.  And waking up after seven hours of sleep means more joy during the day and more activities at night.  And did we know that the Japanese often sleep on the floor? They love the benefits sleeping on the floor has for back health.

So, forget the hedonistic lifestyle.  That’s not where the fun is.  The fun is pushing the limits of discomfort–and reaping the benefits.  It’s pushing ourselves so hard that we skyrocket to success, overcoming all limitations and all odds.  After all, we deserve to launch our dreams to the stars.  And a clear path to the heavens is an intense desire for discomfort.  And we’ve all got it in us.

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