Why would anyone in their right mind even contemplate going through the discomfort of taking a cold shower?
A valid question indeed. which contains the seed of a profound answer: Choosing to be uncomfortable hardens your mind and resolve.
Think about it, almost everyone goes through life making decisions that are easy and comfortable. I mean, why would you even want to be uncomfortable right? Shouldn’t everything be exactly as you want it and even better?
This is the society we live in and we’re paying a price for it. We have more than any society has ever had before. More options, variety, more food, more freedom to travel and do as we please, yet somehow this isn’t enough.
The easy choice is the wrong choice if we want to be happy and fulfilled. Does that mean we should make life intentionally difficult. Yes and no.
It is here we need to make a distinction between masochism and extending our comfort zones. Taking a cold shower isn’t masochism, it is merely an inconvenience we can choose to experience. If we do, we can gain more of an appreciation for having hot water available, which is something most people in the world do not have access to.
We can also develop thicker skin. If the power went off for three weeks we know we could handle bathing in cold water.
Prescription for contentment
But there’s something profound that happens when you start making choices to endure doses of voluntary discomfort: Your mental outlook changes. You shift from needing to have things as perfect as possible in order to enjoy life. You stop being so darn precious about feeling uncomfortable… These cease to be excuses for inaction, whining and not enjoying life as it is.
I know it’s a tough sell, and I’ve gotten a multitude of strange looks for mentioning this idea, but really, it is a small thing you can do to set in motion positive changes. Both in mood (you feel funky for hours afterwards) and in long term emotional states because you develop a level of resilience.
If you’re the sort of person who has to have everything exactly as they want it, taking cold showers will seem utterly foreign to you. No doubt this expectation that your experience must fit a narrow set of standards in order for you to feel fulfilled/happy produces a great deal of discontent. Doing something against the grain is probably the best thing you could do.
Don’t believe me?
Try it. Take a cold shower for 7 days. That is cold from start to finish. Revel in it, look forward to it, abandon hesitation and you’ll notice your days go much smoother.
If you’re really keen to improve your mental outlook, stop having your morning coffee. Maybe that one is for another time 🙂
Here’s a few cool resources for more info:
- Joe Runyon at TEDx — Cold Shower Therapy (YouTube)
- What does cold shower therapy do? (YouTube) — Joel’s personal challenge which he extends over on coldshowertherapy.com
- Scientific case for cold showers (Fast Company)