Let’s face it our modern and contemporary life is far too comfortable.
- There are no natural predators we have to be wary of in our environment.
- We do not have to exert ourselves for food nor water.
- The roof over our heads and the central heating provide us with evergreen shelter and comfort.
- Technology is doing most of the physical and mental activities for us.
- We can get away with less and less of movement.
I am not trying to vilify these things – it’s part of the growth of our civilization.
Instead, I am trying to convey the notion that we might be doing a disservice for ourselves by getting too comfortable.
What follows is a short historical overview of how and why some nations chose to be tough. If you want to see immediate tips and habits that are incorporated into my everyday life then scroll to the end where a list is given although I strongly recommend to keep on reading.
How Vikings Were Made
During the Viking age in Europe, all of the coastal regions were horrified by the Norsemen. Not only were they unmatchable at naval combat but also on the land as well. Towns were constantly raided and even Paris was plundered.
The reason for their superiority was simple. They were simply TOUGHER than their enemies. Most of the time they were outnumbered but still managed to be victorious.
Their environment was what shaped such characteristics.
Vikings were not made by the warm winds of the Mediterranean but by the harsh climate of the north to which they had to become accustomed to. Their home was the raging sea with its furious waves.
Living in such conditions will make a person resistant to any form of discomfort.
The Story In Persia
When Cyrus the Great came from the harsh Zagros mountains and conquered today’s Iran he did not settle in the fertile landscape but instead remained in his barren homeland.
He said: „Better to live in a rugged land and rule than to cultivate rich plains and be a slave.“
When Alexander the Great invaded the same tribes he built roads to the desert to promote trade and prosperity. After the coming winter, the constructions were destroyed by the locals themselves because they preferred to remain isolated and free in their desolation.
As the proverb goes: „Soft lands make soft people.“
Failing To Adapt
One of the biggest reasons in my opinion why the European crusaders did not manage to maintain a strong enough of a grip over Jerusalem was that the environment was too harsh.
Their characters and armor were not made to face the heating of the desert sun and the sand. Fighting moreover living there was something they had not been accustomed to.
There were also numerous political issues. But the way they approached these conquests was false.
Instead of trying to take European warfare to the Arabs they should have done the opposite and adapted to the circumstances of the dunes.
The most renown warriors of all time the Spartans were not in such environmentally difficult conditions but they understood the necessity of this philosophy.
Instead of making their lives more comfortable their society was built upon facing adversity and resistance of all kind.
Their toughness and expertise were FORGED through their deliberate actions.
It was not forced upon them unlike with other civilizations of the world. Therefore they were supreme warriors and of utmost toughness.
Fitting In With The Story
The purpose is to not become a Spartan warrior or to put me through deliberate masochistic torture but to cultivate some of the toughness and thus grow character.
Most importantly to not fall into the trap of becoming too soft and tender for it refers to fragileness.
Because our modern environment and society don’t condition us the same way it used to it is up to ourselves to forge our own titanium.
How to Make Our Life Less Comfortable
Decrease the amount of comfort in the environment.
- Turn down the heating to its minimum.
- Take cold showers.
- Dress as lightly as possible.
- Sleep with only the bedsheet.
- Throw away cushion and pillows. (Sleep on the floor from time to time.)
By doing so we are not only empowering our health but also conditioning our body and mind to become accustomed to these things.
Winter is coming but it does not seem that scary anymore.
Also doing all of these things in the rain adds additional caviar to it. It is wet and makes us feel uncomfortable yet at the same time empowering.
Move as much as possible.
- This means ALWAYS taking the stairs.
- Not taking the bus when we can walk.
- This way we are improving our cardiovascular health, bypassing traffic, enjoying the scenery and giving the body what it wants.
- Do not sit down when you can stand.
- Build up a daily sweat. – The exercises need to be intense and powerful in nature like HIIT sprints, burpees, heavy squats. The point is not to make it easy but to exceed ourselves by putting ourselves into an extremely uncomfortable situation. (Something to resemble running after dinner.)
- An additional thing would be to partake in flexibility and mobility exercises. Stretching is by nature extremely uncomfortable and requires us to „dwell“ in difficult positions for a long time.
More movement again increases our health and wellbeing. It also contributes to mental sharpness, alertness, and overall happiness. There isn’t a good enough of a reason to try and avoid it. It is what we are designed to do.
Being responsible for our own food.
Instead of falling into the trap of eating pre-made foods and takeaways take responsibility for what you put into your body. Start to cook everything by yourself.
Moreover, do not take the easy way out and use the microwave neither.
- Instead, put yourself through the long process of slow cooking a big dinner in the oven. It will be more nutritious and also taste a lot better.
Going through it every once in a while will cultivate patience and appreciation for the food.
- Eat something seemingly unorthodox or disgusting such as organ meats. Actually the most nutritious and tasty parts of the animal. Love me some pork liver and beef heart.
- Skip a meal every once in a while. What I am referring to is intermittent fasting (Comprehensive guide to IF). An abundance of food is something we take far too granted for. Not eating is a great way to remind us about it. There are different ways to do this. Skipping breakfast, lunch or dinner – the choice is up to you. It only counts after the 12-14 hour mark.
Not only will these things grow a more intimate relationship with your food but again… improve your health by decreasing the number of the dangerous substances that are used in the factory. Hopefully, a re-emerging pattern is seen here.
Do something you are afraid of.
This is probably the most important thing we can do. Overcoming our fears are the most difficult tasks
I am not talking about putting ourselves in danger by jumping off a bridge or climbing a tower.
Instead, do something that you’re anxious about whether that would be public speaking or starting that project you have been pushing off for so long.
There is no way around it other than to feel the fear, accept the anxiety and going for it despite their presence.
It takes courage but is the most empowering thing we can do.
Engage in strenuous learning and concentration.
It is not only about the body. The mind requires toughness conditioning of itself.
It is baffling to read about something that we have no comprehension about. We are not aware enough of a certain subject.
It forces our mind to build certain patterns and pathways to adapt and become more flexible.
Picking up something in another language might be something to consider but not very effective.
Instead of reading academic writing on a different subject other than your own will do the trick. We are not only expanding our knowledge but also our consciousness.
Hopefully, you noticed the re-emerging pattern in all of these tips.
They all contribute to our health and wellbeing. Whether that be physical or mental by doing these things we are inevitably improving our life.
By nature, they are something that our reptilian brain would want to avoid because they require too much effort.
Exerting ourselves is just too uncomfortable and that is why we avoid putting ourselves in such situations.
However as the lessons in history showed us is that toughness is not something that every nation has. Some are softer than others and therefore we have no memory of them anymore.
Our own society is falling into the same trap. The environment which we inhabit today doesn’t favor discomfort but makes our life more and more easier.
By doing so we are degrading our health both physical and mental. Our mind and cognition suffer as much as do our bodies.
Facing uncomfortable situations made us adapt to them and grow as a species.
Who knows what will happen if we take that away from us.
These are the strategies I use on a daily basis to make my life less comfortable.
To be honest I am not actually feeling the discomfort but instead the contrary – I am feeling empowered by them.
By conditioning myself in such a way I am becoming a better human being. Not only am I becoming more comfortable being uncomfortable but also growing in the process.
How comfortable is your life?