We live in both the easiest and hardest world man has ever encountered. On the one hand, we barely have to move. We can be at a comfortable temperature all day long as steel boxes whisk us from one engagement to the next. Even our belly cravings can be satisfied with incredibly cheap and delicious food.
On the other hand, in order to nourish and challenge our minds, bodies, and souls, we must step outside of our nests of comfort and get dirty, cold, hot, tired and challenge ourselves. I truly believe that only by shucking many of our creature comforts, will we be able to grow and find the best versions of ourselves.
Here are a few ideas that I use to make sure I don’t get too comfortable.
1. Change the temp! For cold, jump into a chilly river midway through a run. Run and ride your bike in clothing that challenge you to stay warm. For warm, spend more time outside on hot days. Wait until high-noon to exercise or maybe do your workout in a sauna suit. If you can learn to tolerate the elements regularly, you will build mental strength that can help you through many other challenges.
2. Get higher grades. I like to find different gradients of challenges that I can take on throughout each year. I love facing physical challenges that scare me. Whether it’s racing, running a distance you’ve never run before, scaling a bold and exciting mountain or learning a new sport, these are great ways to push your outside of your comfort zone. Right now, I’m running a 560 mile long trail. This will be 455 miles longer than I’ve ever run!
Pro-tip: Find a community of people who are also taking on the challenge and gain support through your peers.
3. Make your daily life a little harder. Take the stairs. Carry something heavy, walk a few extra kilometres and park at the far end of the parking lot. These, and many other little inconveniences can really add up to make you a much tougher and fitter person. Mentally, taking the long road is always rewarding as well.
4. Being confused is great. I love coming up with new mental challenges every day. It could be learning a new skill, or simply analyzing a task you do daily and looking for other, more creative ways of doing it. You can carry the garbage to curb, instead of rolling the can there. Or, maybe you walk up the stairs in your house backwards to increase your spatial awareness and mobility. Whatever it is, there are myriad ways to challenge your mind.
5. Be creative with your happy hours. Try new ways of being social with your friends. Instead of meeting for coffee and donuts, meet your friends for a round of 100 squats. Or, take an hour long hike through the woods together. Maybe organize a trail-day, where you and your friends volunteer your time to help maintain your local trails (also a great workout)!
Unless we consciously buck the norm, we may be relegated to a life of complacency and inactivity. So… go get out there, and get after it!