Things are changing.
For decades now we have seen the gradual automation of almost everything we do. More and more we need to do less and less to go about our daily lives. The need for physical activity and physical exertion has been slowly replaced with the ability to make everything happen with the push of a button.
Or at least, this is the way things WERE going. I believe we are now in the midst of a turning point. Now we are starting to see a shift in the other direction.
I think we are realizing that easy and painless and safe is not necessarily the best way.
As a health practitioner, I see a lot of people suffering through lack of pressure in their lives. They have put on too much weight, developed muscle weakness or just lost the ability to struggle with the challenges that are presented to them.
Then I see others that regularly choose to face hardship, to push through their physical and emotional boundaries and to seek out difficulty. It is these people who are typically more content, more grounded and I’d even say more relaxed in themselves.
Exercise as we know it has replaced the physical labour that was once required of us to simply live our lives. What we are now seeing is dramatic shift towards exercise that is much more extreme than we have seen in the mainstream before now. The massive popularity of Touch Mudder, Cross Fit and Mixed Martial Arts has taken our world by storm. My theory is that these things have become so popular because they are so far removed from the Easy and the Safe that we live in most of the time.
Adventure racing is another example what I’m talking about here. Participants are required to enter a course, often without full knowledge of what they are going to be up against and then weather conditions can change the game for them completely, with little warning. Again, not Easy, nor Safe.
Running though seems like such a simple and straightforward activity, and it is. But, if what we are searching for is to remove ourselves from the Easy and the Safe, running offers the opportunity for an extraordinary adventure into the self. It can be neither Easy nor Safe. Depending on how you approach it, running can teach you about yourself and what you are capable of. It can expose your vulnerabilities and force you to dig deeper to see what you’ve got. Depending on how far you want to push yourself, Ultra-Running can take you somewhere you may never have even thought possible. Distance though, is relative. For the beginner, a 5km race could seem like an insurmountable achievement. But it is the act of setting that goal, removing yourself from the Easy and the Safe and trying something else on for size.
Take a close look at your day today. Did you at any time choose to do something the hard way? Just because it will stretch you or make you stronger. Did you schedule in time for something uncomfortable? Did you seek out Easy and Safe or did you set them aside and replace them with something more real and more engaging.
At least once today… better yet, right now, do something that is outside your comfort zone. Do something just because it’s hard. Do this every day for a month and see what it does for the quality of your life.