Why do I take cold showers?
I take very cold showers three or four times a week. I dread it just about every time.
There are well-known physical benefits:
combats depression symptoms
But the reason I torture myself in this way is for the mental effect. It’s a reminder that I can do difficult things even when my mind is screaming that I can’t. Here’s the process:
dive into something wildly uncomfortable
sit in it for a few seconds
quickly acclimate to feeling just fine
This system also exists in our careers, relationships, and health.
I just finished my second week in Buenos Aires. When I got here, I mentioned in a blog that one of my goals was to “give my life a cold shower.” Here’s what I meant.
As my flight to South America drew closer, doubts and fears came pouring in. It was like I was standing next to the tub with my hand testing the freezing water. All you can think about is how miserable it’s going to feel. The benefits feel far away and are hard to imagine.
Then I got on the plane, unpacked my stuff into the apartment, and started to find my feet. I got memberships to a coworking space, a martial arts gym, and a weightlifting gym. I began Spanish lessons. I took taxis where I could only understand 20% of what the guy was saying to me. I went out and met entrepreneurs, beautiful women, and new friends.
It was all exhilarating, uncomfortable, and overwhelming. Just like taking that first step into the cold shower. There was homesickness. I just wanted to be back in a familiar setting. The first thought you have in a cold shower is, I need to get the hell out of here.
But then you just breathe. The water gets a little less icy. Your fight or flight mode calms down. And before you know it, you’re feeling relaxed and refreshed by this thing that felt like it was killing you five seconds prior.
That’s where I’m at now.
I’m typing this out while sitting next to some buddies in my coworking space. I have a routine down. I have a few favorite cafes and bars. I’ll sometimes even forget I’m in a foreign country. It just feels like home.
Before I came here, I was on the phone with a good friend and telling him about my anxiety. What he said has stuck with me ever since.
“There are people who are doing exactly what you want to do who have fewer skills, fewer resources, and less drive. They just care less and put themselves out there more.”
So now whenever I get down on myself for speaking Spanish like a two-year-old, not knowing the bus system, or sounding awkward when flirting…I just remind myself of those words.
There are people doing better than me who are less capable. Just relax and keep doing scary things. Most of life’s treasures are buried beneath uncomfortable actions and cold showers.
Two weeks down. Five to go.