My greatest struggle is the decision to adopt a new habit. Whether it be rising from bed an hour earlier, exercising every day, or writing a new blog post once a week… it’s damn hard to do.
Sure, I know ‘intellectually’ a fresh routine will improve my life and make me more productive, but foreknowledge of the benefit a new habit will bring is not enough. No article filled with life hacks ever resonates with me. The headline can be the sexiest clickbait to emerge from a skilled copywriter’s mind, with the promise of an orgasmic listicle at the end of my mouse click or finger tap. My reaction is always the same – angry rejection.
Deep inside me, a tortured voice screams, “Bullshit!” when confronted with yet another proscription to ‘crush life.’ My violent retort to advice is in protest to what is always omitted. Change is hard. We crave security and stability which change threatens to disrupt. The realist in me knows this and automatically rejects advice that does not directly address how unpleasant change is.
My Alarming New Habit
My calloused exterior, impermeable to constant yet banal advice, ruptured a few weeks ago. I was listening to one of Tim Ferris’s podcast episodes and his guest began to extoll the virtues of daily cold showers. I dismissed the advice derisively, but the idea burrowed down into the lizard part of my brain like a weaponized earworm.
I was simmering in outrage over the cold shower recommendation a week later. It sounded like a fad but here it was living rent free in my head. I began to calm down when I acknowledged the idea of a cold shower ticked all the boxes previous life hacks had not. A cold shower sounded dreadful and difficult, but isn’t that what was missing from the glut of life advice out there? The formation of a new habit is not meant to be pleasant.
I apprehensively stepped into the shower and slowly unwound the cold-water tap. The cascade that followed was so nasty I struggled to breathe. Desperately, I shut off the icy assault and dried off. Strangely, I came back for more the next morning.
Ten days later and I was still subjecting myself to this unappealing ritual. This new habit was a rebirth. I now reject hot showers the way a religious adherent avoids a taboo. My inner masochist goads me into increasing my time beneath the painful droplets.
Cold showers are awful, but they are my kind of awful.