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  • Writer's pictureJ.F. Skubis

Put Yourself Through Hell

We humans are strange creatures. We have a natural tendency to do all that we can to remove discomfort by any means. We’ve been led to believe it’s the way to a better life. Ultra-plush beds, fast food, convenience in everything that we do, instant gratification, machinery and robots to do work that used to be done by humans. Technology, a curse and a blessing. It has an aim to remove all struggle from humankind. Though, once all struggle and discomfort have been removed, what are we here for?

You see it’s the trying, the failing, the doing, and succeeding - the lather, rinse, repeat of existence that adds to the worthwhile of it all. There is a journey here, a path that we need to pay homage to. In observation of myself, I am not without fault. There is a complacency that sets in. We get comfortable when we get an amount of what we want. It prevents us from going further, we are lackadaisical, stuck in our soothing creature comforts. Our life becomes soft, formless and so too do we. How is it that we are such a contradiction? That our useful tools can at the same time make us less useful. That our stronger technology makes us physically weak. I think Joe Rogan puts it best when he says we’ve “nerfed” our society. Almost everyone uses GPS today but how many people know that it stands for Global Positioning System? One step further, ask those same people to read a map, then watch the majority struggle. This is not only in the physical world but has invaded the mental and thereby emotional worlds as well. We now live in an outrage culture. It’s become so politically correct that words no longer mean what words used to mean. Our feelings have invalidated the dictionary.

Now let me not seem the harbinger of doom as every successive generation has their neigh-sayers. I only proffer these things to highlight my point. As humans who wish to be useful, to ourselves and others, we need to impose discomfort and struggle upon ourselves if society now refuses to do it. In short, the world used to toughen you up, now it’s on you to do it. Maybe on some level the challenges are just evolving, as change is the only constant. That being stated the man that once worked the farm and became strong from it now sits in an office strengthening only his fingers behind a keyboard. He no longer is strong enough to defend himself. The child that is singled out in school and picked on now chooses suicide over the satisfaction of one day saying, “Look at me now!”. Coddling left them unable to cope with the sting of other’s actions and words.

If we understand that discomfort, struggle, suffering, and strife are necessary to be tough, great, and successful and not only that are unavoidable to some extent what is our obsession with eliminating them? You will find that those who impose discomfort and challenge upon themselves are often the cream that rises to the top. There is an imaginary line that exists when we talk of this imposed discomfort and it needs to be pushed in a direction of progress. We want to approach the line and push it just far enough to get better. To do that we need consistency. It’s the difference between working out and getting stronger day by day and working out to the point of where you’re so sore that you cannot move for nearly a week afterward. The imposed discomfort needs to be intelligently applied so as to become useful. When this is done then we are able to continue to push that boundary, further and further along to the point of it having a real-life application.

When you live a sedentary lifestyle and you decide you’re going to go for a run you may get a mile if you’re lucky, maybe further if you don’t have extra weight on you. You’ll likely not exceed your expectation or goal of where you want to be the first time. It will take effort over time. Your next run you may get a quarter mile further before you bog down. The next maybe a half mile. With consistent effort and continually pushing that boundary there really is no limit. People are now running ultra-marathons of over 200 miles. Where does this apply? You could find yourself in an emergency where your cell phone battery is dead, and time is of the essence as your colleague is in a diabetic coma. Being 15 miles out from the nearest town is no longer a daunting feat but a small challenge in between you and saving someone’s life. That is a direct application. There are so many benefits unseen that have a cross-situational application. It takes mental grit to be able to run long distances. This grit can help you go the distance when dealing with a work project or family crisis. Everything you learn can be applied somewhere else, it’s like compound interest on skill building. Another example, you and a friend are hiking. A small boulder dislodges and pins your leg, you’re in a remote area. This boulder weighs 500 pounds, luckily your friend deadlifts 400 and is able to move the stone just enough for you to escape. Due to him getting in the gym and grinding day in and day out you’re able to make your way to safety and not have to be a meal for mountain lions while he's trying to get help.

Though these examples are rather simple and direct, they are evidence enough. There’s no sense creating elaborate scenarios ad infinitum when a simple one proves the point. I love my creature comforts, putting on a cashmere sweater is akin to being massaged by the rays of the sun on a beautiful summer day. That doesn’t stop me from getting my ass outside when it’s raining and cold, when the sun has yet to come up, to grind out a workout like a swine rooting in mud. We’ll always look to make our lives easier. Be ahead of the curve, see how you can make your life harder in a constructive fashion. Push yourself, challenge yourself, and do it consistently. It will make the hard times easier. It will make the unbearable times just bearable. It may make the impossible times survivable. While the rest of the populace is getting soft and lazy you can choose to do the opposite. If you put yourself through hell… no one else can.

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