Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

Share me :)

As a subscriber to Ryan Holiday’s Daily Stoic email, I signed up for his New Year, New You 21 day challenge. Each morning I wake up to an email and 2 min video where Ryan explains the challenge for that day and shares some tips and tricks to help us be successful. It’s been fairly easy so far (watch the sunrise/sunset, take a cold plunge). Today’s challenge sounded like hell.

Find a quiet solitary space.

Turn off all electronic devices.

Count to 1000.

Having never counted past like…60… before, I wondered how this might go. I decided to count using the rhythm of my livingroom clock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock Tick. Tock. The challenge was meant to take roughly 15 min but it took me 30min as I counted on the tock (every 2 seconds). Ryan’s advice was, “don’t break it up into manageable chunks, don’t celebrate key milestones (500), don’t celebrate when you finish (1000 baby!!!). Be still. Be in the moment. Take it in.” It was solid advice. 🙂

As I started, I felt the weight of Pascal’s famous quote but was confident I could do it. And I did! Sure, there were moments when my brain auto-piloted the numbers and when I reached 550 I remember thinking, “damn, I’m just over halfway there??” but my meditation training kicked in and I gently brought myself back into the rhythm. In the end, I actually found it relaxing.

We’ve all heard the classic advice, “close your eyes and count to 10.” The wisdom behind this is the pause allows our angry/anxious thoughts to slow down and we can begin to feel the stillness/ peace again. In short, it prevents a potentially negative experience for us and for others we may lash out against. Today’s challenge taught me that sometimes we need more than 10 seconds.

You sleep through your alarm.

A long-time employee announces he is starting his own landscaping company.

World War III is trending on Social Media.

It’s funny how the universe works. These are 3 fairly anxiety-inducing human experiences but because I spent 30 minutes in solitary stillness, I was able to take in all these realities and move forward in confidence knowing that it’s all good. Or at least, it will be. 🙂

It is all good. No matter what you’re going through. Stoicism reminds us that while we can’t control everything we can control something. Our reaction! In this, we are always in control (which is great news for control freaks) 😉

We count to 1000 not because it’s a cool badass challenge but because we never know when a real challenge will hit and we’ll need the stillness training. Resilience is a habit cultivated daily. Practice makes us perfect.

So let’s go!

The clock is ticking.

Cold Water Saves Lives

Share me :)

If somebody had told me 5 years ago that the most lasting and effective change I would experience in my life was temperature-related, I would have been like… sounds boring. But fine… tell me more.

The first time I heard about The Iceman, I assumed he was a Marvel villain. Turns out, Wim Hof had become a legend for his morning plunges into the frigid cold waters of his local canal. Plus, he hiked mountains shoeless and shirtless -wearing only his shorts. Wim had also developed a breathing method that could scrub your lungs of excess carbon dioxide allowing you to breathe less and withstand all kinds of unpleasant realities. Wim claimed his methods could prevent sickness, boost the immune system and increase longevity.  The journalist, Scott Carney, had flown to Amsterdam to ‘out’ this crackpot and expose his bullshit. Instead, Scott wrote a book with the subtitle:

How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude, and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength

All Scott ended up exposing was his body to Wim’s methods. Scott did the plunges, took the breaths and even hiked Mount Kilimanjaro in his shorts. In the end, Scott proved not only did The Wim Hof Method work, it worked for people not named Wim Hof – perhaps the greatest proof of its truth. Science now agrees too, Wim’s methods actually work.

Note: Scott will be appearing on an upcoming episode 🙂

When I heard in 2017 that Wim was coming to Vancouver, I jumped at the chance to meet him. He is exactly the beautiful maniac I expected. Nearly 60 years old, Wim had the energy of a 20-year-old and inspired us with his story, the science behind his methods and we even took an ice bath together. Near the end of the day, Wim took us through one of his signature breathing sessions. What causes our bodies to cry out for breath is not a lack of oxygen but a build-up of carbon dioxide. Wim’s technique releases the excess Co2 bringing transcendence in thought and eliminating the desire to breathe. I floated through space without taking a breath for a full 4 minutes. It is still one of the more profound experiences I have ever had.

Since being introduced to Wim and his methods, I have taken a 1 min freezing cold shower every day. Andrew has too. At first, I screamed like a small child and hyperventilated my way to the finish line. I no longer do either but instead breathe and take it in. The key is to turn the faucet all the way to cold and let the water hit back of your head, right at your spine. It’ll take you places 🙂 Then I slowly turn my body and allow the cold water to do it’s work everywhere else. The result is a follows:

  • Anxiety and Anger Away – Any anxiety/strong emotion I had before the shower is gone by the time I get out and less likely to return later in the day.
  • Mental Reset – I step out refreshed and focused with renewed courage and vigor
  • Muscle Soreness – It is greatly reduced, along with any stiffness.
  • Skin – My skin is glowing (if I do say so myself ) 😉
  • Increased Resilience – Resilience is a habit we must cultivate daily. When we infuse our day with exercise (I jog in the mountains) followed by a cold shower, we remind the brain that although life can be a grind, we are stronger than we think and can endure any challenge that comes our way. This simple act allows us to live more peacefully in the moment.

The best part? It’s free. And super convenient. If you’re looking for genuine change in your mind and body, stop being a wimp and crank it to cold. You’ll thank us (eventually). 🙂

A Shocking Study

Share me :)

In his excellent and thought-provoking book, ‘Stumbling on Happiness,’ Daniel Gilbert challenges our traditionally held beliefs on happiness. There are several key takeaways, not the least of which is, “anxiety is unhelpful because our brains are notoriously unreliable when it comes to predicting the future.” The experiences that we believe will bring us happiness, seldom do. But even more surprising, the experiences we dread and often try to avoid, fail to deliver the level of doom and gloom expected.

To illustrate his point, Gilbert references dozens of scientific studies -most of which go against conventional wisdom. One experiment, in particular, invited volunteers to receive three electric shocks. The fact that anyone signed up for this study is perhaps confirmation of the book’s central thesis. One group received moderate level shocks and the others received severe (painful) shocks. Upon completion, the participants were interviewed by psychologists. The participants who received the painful shocks were more grateful and appreciative of the experience than those who received less intense shocks. How is this possible? Gilbert explains, “if you managed to forgive your spouse (or anyone) for some egregious transgression but still find yourself miffed about the dent in the garage door or the trail of dirty socks on the staircase, then you have experienced this paradox.” It turns out, the answer lies in something called the Psychological Immune System.

We all have an immune system and its job is to fight off viruses so our body can run smoothly and stay safe from disease. It turns out, there is a psychological component to this. When we suffer a large scale attack on our psyche (Job loss, divorce, business failure, cancer diagnosis, bankruptcy etc.) our brain begins its job of protecting us by offering a more positive view of the experience. “That job wasn’t aligned with your values anyways. “He never really loved you for you who are etc.” This mental shift allows us to learn from the experience and most importantly, try again. While some might call this denial, others point to this as a key to resilience.

This particular immune system isn’t activated for every-day sadness, anger or anxiety but is reserved for those full-scale shocks to our psyche. Its primary concern is we don’t stay face down, in permanent rock bottom or experiencing night after night dark in our soul. We must eventually get up, dust ourselves off and continue to push through those obstacles.

It’s easy to feel anxious or angry, pre-suffering future shocks to our system. What this and many other studies have proven is although these shocks are inevitable, when they come, we have a built-in resilience to handle them. Upon realizing this, we can move forward with renewed confidence knowing we are stronger than we think. And perhaps, most importantly, we can enjoy the moment we are in.