It’s politically incorrect to say this, but I’m going to anyway.
Some people are just soft. Maybe you’re one of these people. See, being soft simply means you’re addicted to being comfortable and you’re afraid of doing anything hard. You can be soft mentally, physically, spiritually, so it goes.
The messaging of society is designed to keep you soft, weak, and complacent. See, here’s what the infamous “they” do to you. They take perfectly good, healthy, and reasonable concepts and bastardize them to the point they no longer become reasonable.
What am I talking about?
Here are some examples.
Some people are, without question, clinically depressed. But that doesn’t mean that having a down period in your life means you need pills and therapy. You might be feeling down and out because your life actually sucks. This is a thing. Dare say this, though, and you’re labeled cruel. This reminds me of one of my favorite Nassim Taleb quotes:
“I feel anger and frustration when I think that one in ten Americans beyond the age of high school is on some kind of antidepressant, such as Prozac. Indeed, when you go through mood swings, you now have to justify why you are not on some medication. There may be a few good reasons to be on medication, in severely pathological cases, but my mood, my sadness, my bouts of anxiety, are a second source of intelligence–perhaps even the first source.”
Society creates unfair beauty and physical standards for people of all genders. True and reasonable. But this doesn’t mean you should abandon all physical activity. Just like it’s not a badge of honor to work out a ton, it’s not a badge of honor to never work out either. Yet, there are many movements predicated on the idea of being proud of doing nothing.
Is upward mobility-limited for certain people in certain avenues? Sure. But that doesn’t mean society should be perfectly fair. First, it’s impossible. Second, some people actually work harder and take more risks. The idea that your career and financial situation should be good, by default, without experiencing discomfort, isn’t only foolish, but dangerous.
Altogether, we’re veering into this lane that anything other than absolute comfort, security, and certainty is seen as a negative. This makes no sense and isn’t actually helpful for the individual.
Why? Because discomfort is good for you.
I have a question for you that you may have never considered before.
Why do you deserve to feel good?
Because you’re a good person? Everyone thinks they’re a good person. Because feeling good is right? Says who? One mental shift that’s really helped me over the years is the idea that feeling good isn’t always the healthiest thing to feel.
Sometimes it’s healthier to not feel good, to feel like you’re struggling, to get frustrated, to feel discomfort, then to experience the euphoria that comes from overcoming it all.
Look at most of the problems in society. They come from a lack of struggle. They come from comfort. Sedentary living literally kills you because you’re doing nothing. In pushing for this eco-system of complete mental comfort where anything less than perfect compliance to one’s emotional makeup is offensive, we’re creating weak minds that can’t handle any adversity. Mental toughness is necessary to build a better life, period.
In just a few generations, we’ve gone from eighteen your olds signing up to become fighter pilots to eighteen-year-olds complaining about microaggressions.
All of this angst is a manifestation of the following:
For the most part, our lives are pretty comfortable. We hate the fact that we’re still unhappy anyway, but we don’t have the mental toughness to push through discomfort, so we complain more.
We’re a society full of latte-sipping yuppies who complain about geopolitics from our smartphones that child workers built. We don’t move our bodies. We don’t challenge our minds.
We’ve created a cage built from our own comfort.
I follow this older gentleman on Twitter. Every day he posts a video of himself doing something strenuous — martial arts, crazy bodyweight workouts, running, etc. He always posts the same caption “comfort is a cage, do hard things.”
Most people his age barely get off the couch, let alone do these types of feats. We grow so comfortable over time that we come to believe we’re incapable of pushing ourselves, which just isn’t true. I’ve seen stories of people starting to powerlift…in their 70’s. It’s never too late. And often, putting yourself outside of your comfort zone physically extends your life.
Want to continually stay uncomfortable? Try to start side projects, businesses, passion projects, or any new skill. You’ll constantly run into walls of frustration and overcome them, only to find new walls. I’ve spent the past year working on a new book. Writing a book isn’t as financially lucrative as my main writing gig, but I wrote the book to push myself to the max mentally.
I must have edited the book 15 times. By now, I don’t even feel like looking at the book ever again. The editors I worked with not only challenged my prose but my core philosophies as a human being. When I get a copy of the book in my hand, though, I’ll be reminded of why I did it in the first place.
There’s just nothing that can touch seeing the fruits you bear from hard work and struggle. Nothing. The kicker? The feeling doesn’t last long at all. You just go right back to the masochistic process of working on yourself, working on projects, working on piecing together your life in general. Why? Just to do it. Just to stay out of your cage and roam the wild. To avoid being a domesticated animal.
In addition to making your life more difficult and challenging from a birds-eye view, try little habits and experiments that make you feel tougher, period.
I recently took up taking cold showers. I’m going to experiment with them for the next 30 days. Supposedly doing this boosts your immune system by the process of hormesis:
Hormesis is any process in a cell or organism that exhibits a biphasic response to exposure to increasing amounts of a substance or condition. Within the hormetic zone, there is generally a favorable biological response to low exposures to toxins and other stressors.
From doing something like cold shower therapy to lifting weights to hiking to playing chess to reading extremely dense and difficult books. Putting yourself through a little pain creates adaptation. Failing to do so creates apathy and atrophy.
The classic fictional example is the bubble boy. If you live in a hermetically sealed bubble your entire life, you’d die the minute you went outside because you’ve built no immunities.
In what ways have you built a bubble for your life?
In what ways can you add a little difficulty, healthy stress, and shocks to your system to help you adapt.
You could try:
Anything to shock you out of your complacency.
Look, maybe you’re not rolling in it, but if you live in America like me, your life is so extremely comfortable in so many ways that you simply can’t fathom because you’ve never lived anywhere else.
I remember once seeing a picture of a six-year-old child in Vietnam during the war. He had his infant brother, dead, strapped to his back. Apparently he was transporting his brother for burial.
The kid was standing up razor straight and steely-eyed. You could tell he had the culture of toughness and sacrifice instilled in him. Was this kid lowkey abused? Yup. But I use this stark comparison to make a point.
You’re soft. I’m soft. We’re soft.
We have nothing to complain about, really.
You’re privileged. Most people around live in a life of total discomfort by default. You have to go out of your way to get tougher. Do it.
The combination of building mental toughness while living in a society that sets you up for success because of its inherent comfort gives you the ability to change your life.
Push yourself even a little bit and you’ll be in the top five percent of society.