Voluntary Hardships: The Gateway Habit to Mental Toughness

Micro-dosing struggles to build your mental fortitude and self-confidence

image c/o Pixabay

Stepping off the Hedonic Treadmill

Because of our ability to adapt so well, we find ourselves on a kind of treadmill. We’re running hard to chase pleasure. But we’re not getting anywhere; we’re running in place. As soon as we stop to enjoy any, we’re carried back to where we started.

Fear and Confidence

Seneca identifies something profound in human nature. Our fear of an experience can often be much worse than the experience itself. The loss or “going without” that we get so anxious about — usually isn’t unbearable. We can bear it. And when it happens, we do bear it.

Hardship Progression: How to Put it to Use

Like any training, getting yourself used to hardships is all about small, manageable steps. Start with little experiments in going through things the hard way, and build up over time.

Take the Hard Way

One great way to introduce this practice into your day is to “take the hard way.” When you’ve got mundane things to do, see if there’s a slightly harder way you could take to do them. Here’s an example.

Deprive Yourself A Little

Another way to condition your mind for hardship is to bring it about in the form of immediate deprivation. Look at something that you take for granted — something that gives you pleasure or prevents some discomfort. Then remove it for a bit. When you bring it back in, you’ll appreciate it all the more.

Shock Your System

A third way to put yourself through some hardship is to shock your system. Endure something that seems painful or difficult to endure for a short period of time.

Build Your Confidence

As you begin the practice of voluntary hardships, you should start to feel mentally stronger. Each hardship endured will build your confidence in yourself. You’ll begin to see that toughness pop up in other venues, like work or relationships. As long as you keep it up to some degree, you’ll continue to keep that confidence.

Author of “The Wabi-Sabi Way” and “Be, Think, Do”. Subscribe to my newsletter “Woolgathering”: https://goo.gl/UhzUYL.

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