An odd thing happened today.
I was working from home because of the snow storm, and since the rest of my family is out, I figured I’d be a good Asian daughter and shovel the driveway. Wearing only my PJs – a pair of regular Roots sweatpants and a thick hoodie -a toque, ski gloves and a pair of knee-high rubber boots (minus the socks, which in hindsight may be why my feet stink so much) and headed outside.
As I worked, I started to enjoy being outside. There wasn’t a lot of wind so I actually thought that the cold was pleasant. Halfway through shovelling, I waved hello to my neighbour, coming out of his house in full winter gear.
Looking back, I realize how absolutely ridiculous I probably looked in my mismatched, totally wrong-for-the-weather outfit. (Thank goodness my sisters weren’t there to take Snapchat Stories.)
But, why am I telling you this?
Because I was excited that I felt comfortable in -8 degrees Celsius, while wearing almost the exact the same clothes that I wore at home at a cozy 23 degrees.
And why exactly does this excite me? (You might as well know because it probably doesn’t excite you.)
Because I had succeeded in training myself to be adaptable to the cold. And because I know for sure that I was not born shooting ice from my fingertips, playing ice hockey and singing, “The cold never bothered me anyway.”
In fact, I grew up in the Philippines – a place so consistently hot that people would start wearing their coats and jackets when the weather hit 20 degrees. TWENTY FRIGGIN’ DEGREES. At that temperature, Canadians would still be in their shorts and tank tops, trying to get a tan in their backyards!
So how did I do that, become Elsa the Ice Queen (minus the amazing Idina Menzel voice, because I can’t sing for my life)?
A major reason would probably be the cold showers I take every day.
My Cold Shower Story
I started doing this cold shower thing in April 2015 when I wanted to learn to be comfortable with discomfort. Now there a lot of things I could’ve done to practice that, but I wanted something that…
- I could be consistent at (because I shower every day),
- I have no excuse not to do (because I’m already in the shower anyway), and
- That gave me a solid list of health benefits (it lowers stress levels!).
But as my streak of regular cold showers grew from a few days, to a week, to a few months, I not only started enjoying it, I also started doing odd things that would have previously made me question my sanity (as if voluntarily dousing myself in ice-cold water every morning didn’t already):
- I went for all you can eat sushi by myself,
- I started initiating conversations with people I wanted to talk to, and
- I started smiling at random strangers, just because.
You know, the more I welcomed my cold shower in the morning, the less I ran from challenges at the first sign of discomfort. And the longer my streak of cold showers ran, the more I was able to face daily challenges and overcome them, consistently, day in and day out.
I realized that in the process of regularly shocking myself out of my comfort zone, I had grown comfortable with doing unconventional and cringe-y (in a good way) things. I had started to enjoy camping out in that place just outside my little circle of comfort.
Next month I’ll have done my cold showers almost every day for a year, and here is a small sampling of how my discomfort challenge has shaped me:
- I am bolder, braver and less afraid of rejection.
- I have become confident in the person I am, regardless of what people thought about me.
- I have adopted a Just Do It and now I procrastinate less.
- I’ve started embracing the discomforts of life as something new, refreshing and exciting – exactly the way I describe my cold starts to my day.
And it was all because I had taken that first uncomfortable step of turning my shower faucet all the way to the left.
What about you? What’s one thing you can start doing today that will get you started on the road to embracing discomfort?