We live in an age where comfort is everywhere. Feeling cold? Step in the shower and enjoy instantaneously hot, clean, ebola-free running water. Feeling hungry? Simply walk – scratch that, go ahead and drive, to the nearest grocery store and buy precooked prepackaged food. And our options for comfort don’t end at physical conveniences like elevators or air conditioning. We now have the ability to comfort our way out of mental and emotional challenge as well. Feeling socially anxious? No worries, just pull out your sleek portable Samsung Instagram machine and scroll your way out of shyness. Feeling a low-grade depression like something’s not right in the way you’re living? Nothing a little Prozac can’t fix!
There is a glaringly obvious paradox that characterizes our current society that nobody addresses: Comfort and convenience is increasing, yet health and happiness is decreasing! As a matter of fact, 1 in 3 Canadians now report having a chronic disease such as hypertension or diabetes, and in any given year 1 in 5 Canadians will experience mental illness. Clearly, seeking comfort is not the best way to advance our society.
So what if instead of seeking more comfort, we aimed to build resilience instead? In the field is psychology, resilience has been defined as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress – such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors”. Resilience is the process of doing your best, always staying positive, and accepting situations as they are if things can’t be changed. Resilience is an internal trait; a characteristic or disposition. But it can only be developed through external challenges.
Resilience can be likened to Israeli philosopher Nassim Taleb’s term “anti-fragility”. Instead of bubble wrapping the world, make the product less fragile! The concept of resilience and anti-fragility can and absolutely should be applied to how we can become healthier and happier human beings.
Shit happens, no matter how hard we try to make things easy. We can hot shower, Netflix, and drive-thru our way into blissful ignorance, but what happens when the inevitable breakup happens? Or the unexpected cancer diagnoses? Or the accidental car crash? Hopefully in those cases we are resilient and we’ve spent adequate time developing our grit, toughness, and optimism, among other anti-fragile traits…
Once we are resilient, the external will be a non-issue because we’ve got our internal shit together – we’re always okay! Your foot breaks: “cool, no worries, at least it wasn’t my dominant foot, plus being on crutches will be an opportunity to make my upper body super strong”. You get fired from your job: “thank god I eat healthy, work out, and read books every day – I have all the necessary tools to still be a useful member of society and find a new job”.
Once again, no matter how hard we try to nerf the world, shit happens. We must train to be anti-fragile and forgo excess and comfort to live healthy, happy lives. Oh and another thing on developing resilience… When you do go ahead and consciously (i.e. not out of habit) choose to indulge in a modern day luxury like cracking open an ice-cold beer on a hot day, you really, truly enjoy it. One of my favourite proverbs on the subject of living a simple, hardworking life is “there’s no better seasoning than hunger.” Ponder that for a moment.
As always, if you’d like to know more about, and start taking responsibility for your own health, fitness, and wellness, please reach out to Crux Fitness Richmond for any of your personal training needs.
Patrick Koo – Personal Trainer at Crux Fitness Richmond
De, M. A., & Stroud, J. F. (1990). Awareness: A de Mello spirituality conference in his own words. New York: Doubleday.
Taleb, N. (2012). Antifragile: Things that gain from disorder. New York: Random House.
Kobasa, S. C. (1979). Stressful life events, personality, and health – Inquiry into hardiness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 37 (1): 1–11.
Goggins, D. (2018). Can’t Hurt Me: Master your mind and defy the odds. Lioncrest Publishing.
Smetanin et al. (2011). The life and economic impact of major mental illnesses in Canada: 2011-2041. Prepared for the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Toronto, ON.
Statistics Canada. (2005). Canadian Community Health Survey (Cycle 3.1). Ottawa, ON.