Cold Showers: Change Your Habits to Build Momentum
In a commencement speech at the University of Texas at Austin in 2014, Naval Admiral William H. McRaven discussed the importance of making your bed every morning. His argument had to do with building momentum; in this context, momentum refers to the ability of one small action to create a cascade of other, positive actions. Making your bed every morning takes discipline, albeit a small amount, but discipline practiced daily often develops discipline in other areas.
Daily habits become routines, and routines can either contribute positively or negatively to your quality of life. The most successful people in the world are successful because of their commitment to routines. Success requires both a plan and repeated effort; you cannot build a house with only one swing of the hammer.
If you read the previous blog, then you have been introduced to the concept that hardship, sacrifice and perseverance through difficult times can forge resilient individuals. The good thing is that it is quite possible to increase your capacity for hardship with daily, repeated actions. Mental toughness, and subsequently physical toughness, can be trained and developed. The only way to get better at dealing with stress and struggle is to endure stress and struggle.
I propose a challenge: start every day with a cold shower. Ice cold. You don’t need to stand there for a substantial amount of time at first. Just force yourself to jump in the freezing cold water every morning and rinse off. Start with 15 seconds, then 30 seconds, then a minute, then two minutes. Try it for a month, focus on controlling your breathing and staying relaxed despite how uncomfortable you are. What you may find is that, little by little, day by day, that cold water isn’t quite as cold or quite as uncomfortable. Then, my friends, we are on to something.
This may seem like a silly challenge. Realize, however, the importance of starting your day by conquering something you don’t want to do; the shower is a small, insignificant and easy task to face. But this task builds momentum. Accomplishing this task leads to the belief that you can accomplish other tasks. Now, perhaps, you don’t miss that workout you have been putting off. Now, perhaps, you confidently ask for that raise you have been deserving for some time. Now, perhaps, you rekindle that friendship by making the phone call you have been dreading. Momentum is important, because momentum will always continue to build when you push things in the right direction.
Until next time.
For anyone interested, you can watch Admiral McRaven’s full commencement speech here: Video