Life Is Hard, Suck It Up
The Mastery Letter #4
Most people go through life being as comfortable as possible.
Avoiding any type of pain or suffering, which is understandable considering our evolutionary biology.
Our ancestors had to bust their ass to survive, stay warm, feed their family and reproduce.
Only about 33% of men ever reproduced in the past. Only the strongest competent, and most intelligent bloodlines reproduced.
The remaining bloodlines are gone.
Women had to pick the best possible mate available.
Which makes perfect sense because the consequence of a weak, incompetent mate meant her, and her children would die.
Because of that, it's hard wired in us to stay safe, seek warmth, comfort, reproduce constantly, devour fatty, salty, sugary foods, and run-in panic from predators.
Which was fine thousands of years ago....
The problem now is:
We have dopamine buttons that we can smash over and over to solve all these problems instantly.
Random unthreatening shit triggers our fight or flight response
You have to have a modern solution.
That modern solution is voluntary suffering.
Following biological instincts from thousands of years ago don't get you wealthy, an aesthetic body, or fulfilling relationships.
It's always the most difficult things that are the most rewarding, and what you remember.
Suffering is required to overcome fears, achieve mastery and fulfillment.
It is not an option.
There are many parts of the world where suffering is involuntary, like Syria, where innocent people are being bombed constantly.
Involuntary suffering at the hands of others is a terrible consequence of our existence.
This is not the type of suffering I am talking about.
I am talking about suffering that you voluntarily seek out for the challenge and growth alone.
What else are you going to do in your one life, lie in bed?
"I have to go to work - as a human being. Or is this what I was created for? to huddle under the blankets and stay warm?"
It's all about the jump into the unknown, just past your edge.
That is where hormesis comes in.
Hormesis is a biological process that occurs when a very mild sort of damage is done to the body which elicits a much greater therapeutic effect in response.
Putting your mind and body through challenges and stressors will build character, mental fortitude and peak health.
Pressure creates diamonds.
As humans, we were born with a lot of epigenetic material, which means that we have to learn, evolve and adapt in order to survive.
For example, human babies cannot feed themselves or walk, they quite literally just lay there and wait to have a bottle, or a tit put in their mouth.
Other animals, this is not the case, because they are much more preprogrammed genetical material.
Although this sounds like a disadvantage for us humans, it is actually a superpower for those who figure this out.
We have the ability to put our bodies through very difficult stressors and challenges and come back much stronger and wiser.
This mindset scales into many domains of life.
Fears and anxiety
I had panic attacks when I was a kid.
Never knew why.
Could be due to my dad dying to cancer suddenly when I was 5.
Who the hell knows.
It doesn't matter.
It's a victim mindset to obsess over the should's, could's and what if's.
All that matters is operating in what is and how I decided to deal with the thing that "seemingly" was out my control.
As an adult, I eventually conquered this.
I took panic attacks as a challenge.
Any situation that triggered it like claustrophobic situations or big presentations, I dove straight in with a cheeky smile.
I wanted to have them so I could train myself to remain calm during those states.
I invited them with courage.
I was still pissed off that when I was a kid, I got my ass kicked by my own body and mind by random panic attacks, so I wanted revenge.
There were many times where I felt my biology changing, dry mouth, narrow vision, heart rate increasing, negative thoughts of doom.
It was different though. It was 5% of what it was as a kid.
I felt in control because I created a challenge out of it, and I faced it with courage.
You can't control the mind with the mind, you control it with the body.
Breathing is mechanical, so it helps the mind.
But the true cure is when you expose yourself head on to it with bravery.
When the entire panic itself is something, you WANT to happen because you have a goal set around remaining calm during it,
When you aren't scared of it and NEED it to happen, it goes away.
I haven't had a panic attack since I was 15.
There is a lesson to be learned here that applies to many domains of life.
Exposure therapy, voluntary discomfort and hormesis are tools to growth.
Here are many domains where you can use these tools.
You will need to train the mind to greet hunger like an old friend.
Hunger is just information, your body is telling you about its burning fat for fuel now, this is a good thing.
Unless you're diabetic, your blood sugar can be low while fasting.
You shouldn't be scrounging for food every time your poor little blood sugar drops.
If you're like the average obese Westerner, you could burn your fat for weeks and be fine.
You will live.
You will focus better.
It is not a signal to eat more. Being lean has many health benefits and will increase longevity and quality of life.
Teach yourself to ignore hunger.
Pick heavy weights up and set them down.
It creates a response in the body to regenerate additional muscle tissue to support the load.
Your bones get denser.
Your ligaments and tendons get stronger.
If you do this long enough with adequate calories and protein, you will get noticeably bigger and stronger.
It's as simple as that.
The biggest benefit of lifting is -- if you can make it to the gym 3 times a week, consistently, knowing the benefits come months later, you train your brain for delayed gratification.
In this modern era, delayed gratification is the sole mindset that separates the poor from the wealthy.
Putting your body through very cold temperatures releases adrenaline and norepinephrine which both lead to increases in baseline dopamine throughout the day.
Exposing yourself to this discomfort leads to great adaptions of the body.
Personally, I use this as a tool to simulate my biology while doing a speech or presentation or pumped out on a hard climb in the mountains.
This makes it much easier when I do those things.
It isn't foreign for my body to be in a state of adrenaline and havoc because I have exposure to these chemicals' multiple times a week.
That is why panic attacks kicked my ass as a kid.
It's because I had never been exposed to panic and adrenaline.
Exposure therapy and knowledge resolved this.
Exposing the body to heat whether it be sauna or hot bath has benefits as well.
40% reduction in all cause mortalities in a study if done 4x a week.
I prefer 200F+ but 160F+ is enough. for 20 minutes a few times a week.
This will increase your dopamine baseline throughout the day as well.
Forcing the body to be resilient in different temperatures just prepares it for harder situations.
Your heart will race, and you will get very uncomfortable.
Once again, this will benefit you when random challenges appear in your life.
You will be prepared for panic.
The mind will resist harder than anything to distract you back to social media or another dopamine hit.
Focusing on the breath, you will have to suffer to avoid being distracted, voluntarily.
You will fail many times, but consistent effort will bring you results as you get more hours in.
You will eventually be able to use this as a tool during times of panic.
Making excuses or blaming others never pushes you forward it only makes you look weak.
This is a surefire way to atrophy.
As you start to frame your world in a way that EVERYTHING is in your control, and when things don’t go right, find out a way you could have done things different.
This is uncomfortable, counter intuitive, and very difficult.
But, after long exposure to this mindset, you will become more comfortable with the coping emotions associated with taking accountability early on and you will be able to acknowledge them, ignore them, move forward and you will find growth.
You will need to constantly detach and assess every situation and ask yourself what you could have done better, even when you automatic coping response is that it couldn't possibly be your fault.
Having the difficult conversation
In relationships, it's often that both parties' ego gets heavily involved in small disagreements that turn into bigger problems because one person doesn't take the lead and have the difficult conversation.
Both want to be right.
There are also difficult conversations at the workplace, if you have to reprimand someone, or fire them.
You will see this with friends as well.
A true friend is honest and tells their friend they are being a jack fuck and to stop doing the thing that they shouldn't be doing.
This is a form of hormesis for all cases as you will learn and grow after having these tough conversations.
Just have the conversation.
When you’re 100ft up on a climb and your forearms are full of lactic acid and you can barely grip, panic sets in.
Fear engulfs you.
Negative intrusive thoughts come.
Heart rate increases.
Emotions are chaotic.
Thoughts are increased tenfold.
Mouth becomes dry.
Breaths become shallow and through the mouth.
It’s in these times that I had to learn to train the mind to ignore the cocktail of chaos that occurs climbing mountains.
This skill translates everywhere in life.
I've trained myself to be calm during the biological storm.
Professional climbers are absolute masters at this.
I mean think about the level you have to be at to do what Alex Honnald does, free soloing 3,000 ft mountains?
If he panics and loses his cool, he dies.
This is also cross training for presentations, public speaking and high stress environments at work.
You can't beat it.
When I first started BJJ I knew it was going to be tough.
I always hated violence or any type of physical altercation.
After 2 years I had life changing experiences that scaled to the rest of the life.
Getting smashed underneath side control of a sweaty, 200lb purple belt, moments from suffocating, is never fun.
On the surface you'd think, why would someone voluntarily pay to go do something like that.
But it builds fucking character.
It teaches you to be humble and disolves your ego immediately.
It teaches you comradery.
It teaches you confidence.
It teaches you to breathe efficiently so that you can remain calm while you are being crushed, strangled, or joint locked in bad positions.
Quite frankly it makes you feel like a badass when you're a blue belt and know you could probably put 95% of untrained people to sleep.
It teaches you delayed gratification because you are quite literally just surviving as long as possible in rolls for the first year.
My goals would be:
Try not to tap with 30 seconds
Try not to tap within 1 minute
Try not to tap the entire 6-minute round
You get the picture.
Finally, after about a year I was able to get the fundamentals and be able to actually be offensive against all the people at my level or below and it became an entirely new experience.
Anyways, the point is, all of the pain and suffering I went through was totally worth it.
I forged many long friendships in the crucible of hand-to-hand combat with another man that you don't get with any other experience besides the military.
The best tool I received of all is when I am in the worst situations in life, I still think back to my difficult experiences in BJJ to push me through it.
Being calm while at your absolute limit, close to passing out from a rear naked choke but enduring it until the clock runs out for the round makes everything else in life a breeze.
You have to use tools like hormesis, exposure therapy and voluntary suffering to train your mind and body to:
Fight your biological urges to smash the dopamine button
Be calm in certain triggering situations
Achieve growth, fulfillment and mastery
You aren't born with these tools.
You have to put yourself through the crucible in order to acquire them.
If you can do this, you will be open to new limits of human potential.
You will have to do things that you do not want to do.
You will have to detach from your emotions and pain and do what your goals demand.
Talk to you later folks.
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