If you missed part 1 of this series on building resilience to enhance happiness, please go back and read it to gain a full understanding on why comfort does not equal happiness. But if you’re short on time, here’s the Sparknotes version:
- The (first) world is becoming more and more comfortable and convenient, yet mental health disorders are on the rise.
- No matter how hard we try to bubble wrap the world for comfort and convenience, bad things inevitably happen; things that may make us fall into a downward spiral of anxiety and/or depression if we are ill-prepared to face them.
- Instead of aiming to nerf the world and make external challenges easier, we should aim to build internal strength and resilience. “Anti-fragility” is the trait we should constantly seek to improve.
- When we become anti-fragile, external factors will become non-issues. We will always be able to find inner peace and happiness, no matter what’s going on around us.
- Furthermore, when we do occasionally choose to indulge in comfort and convenience, we are able to feel a purer sense of gratitude and enjoyment, instead of habitually trying to out-indulge the “hedonic treadmill” (i.e. the process of adapting, and getting bored with pleasures such as food, sex, or drugs).
So… how do we build resilience and anti-fragility? In the field is psychology, resilience can be defined as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress”. If we are to act off of that definition, then the way to make ourselves more resilient is to stress test everything! Whether it’s mentally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually, we should seek to systematically stress test every part of our life. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my decade of obsession with human performance, it’s that adaptation follows stress. In other words, if we want our bodies and minds to adapt towards a certain ideal (e.g. becoming resilient as fuck), then we have to put ourselves through some pretty significant challenges on a regular basis. Specifically, we should be doing the following 4 things to increase resilience and become anti-fragile:
- Find stillness every day. When we go through challenges we have the option to quit or to find stillness in the struggle. Resilient people tend to find stillness, and oftentimes even enjoyment, in the struggle. But if we don’t practice finding stillness when things are calm and quiet, then we sure as hell won’t be able to summon inner peace during difficult times. So devote 10 minutes a day to practice cultivating inner peace. This can be done through breathwork, mindfulness, or walking meditation, to name a few examples.
- Do something mentally challenging every day. Read a book. Learn a new athletic skill. Practice playing an instrument. Write a poem. Eat with your non-dominant hand. Whatever you do, try your best not to be a brain-dead, Netflix-bingeing, un-opinionated fool.
- Do something emotionally challenging every day. Engage the cashier in a conversation. Go a day without drinking or smoking. Tell your dad you love him. Tell your girlfriend how you really feel. Confront anything and everything that strikes fear in your heart. Emotional growth only happens by stress testing your emotional limits.
- Do something physically challenging every day. Take a cold shower. Do 100 push ups. Practice intermittent fasting. Hike up a mountain. And here’s a bonus: physical challenge tends to kill three birds with one stone in its ability to drive mental and emotional growth as well. For example, many people find the gym an intimidating place. If that’s the case then the act of working out becomes a mental test as new motor patterns are learned, an emotional test as the fear of being in an unfamiliar environment is confronted, and of course a physical test as (in my experience) working out tends to be a sweat fest.
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