How To Become Antifragile
A tea cup is fragile, it can't withstand pressure or force - it breaks.
One might consider resilience to be the opposite of fragile, however that is not quite the case - resilience and perseverance merely depict surviving or enduring adversity or pressure.
The resilient tea cup may withstand the force of a fall from a counter top, but it certainly won't come out from the experience stronger.
Thankfully humans are not tea cups, living creatures like ourselves were designed to be antifragile.
We were designed to continually grow like the hydra, to thrive, grow, learn and take advantage of chaos.
"SJ, but I don't like change, I've got myself in my comfortable routine and I'm far from antifragile!" - Reader
There's 5 specific habits I recommend implementing to become antifragile.
These habits will build both your mindset and your physical toughness to become antifragile.
If you want to grow, thrive and take advantage of the curve balls, black swan events and general unknown that life throws our way I recommend implementing these 5 habits.
5 Habits To Prepare Yourself To Thrive From Chaos
1 - Cold Shower
Cold showers are the ultimate mental toughness building habit.
Spending 3 – 5 minutes in the shower with the facet tilted as far to the cold side as possible can literally change your life.
It’s mental conditioning, no one is making you stand under that freezing cold water except yourself – this builds mental toughness.
As you step under the freezing cold water your breathing becomes short and sharp, you jump and feel as if you can’t handle the temperature of the water… but it’s all in the mind.
Cold showers are fantastic for your health, from decreased symptoms of depression to boosting testosterone, improving the conditoning of your skin and hair as well as providing you with a surge of energy.
Start each day with a cold shower and any other task or event you encounter that day will be easy by comparison.
2- Lift Heavy
Any and every list out there detailing tips to developing mental toughness or becoming a stronger person mentally lists that you should exercise and go to the gym.
But just going to the gym and lifting a few light weights or doing a few miles on the treadmill won’t do much at all for your resolve.
If you want to use the gym and exercise as a technique for developing mental toughness (which I recommend you do) then you’re going to need to apply progressive overload in each and every workout, you’re going to need to push yourself to the brink, to the point of no return when you ache, twitch and grunt as the dumbbell slowly rise in a shaking manner on those last two repetitions of your incline dumbbell bench press.
Each and every workout you must be going BEYOND what you did last time.
Progressive overload requires an increase in the tension placed on your muscles, this can be achieved via an increase in the weight you’re lifting, an increase in the number of repetitions you’re performing or a decrease in the rest period between each set. Record it so you know what you’ve got to beat next time.
3 - Obstacle Races
Regardless of whether you’re into cardio and endurance events, I feel as if everyone should put themselves through their paces in an obstacle run at least once.
Be it the Tough Mudder, True Grit or the Spartan Race – each of these events are built around a series of physical challenges that you would by no means ever encounter in your day-to-day life.
From high rope climbs, crawling under rows of barbed wire, diving through pits of mud and carrying boulders up and down a steep hill… by challenging ourselves and doing these things we’re unsure of, that we don’t know if we’ll be able to achieve… that’s what builds confidence and mental toughness.
Encountering a new experience and conquering it.
These courses may look like they were solely built for fitness, but they were actually constructed for developing that confidence and mental toughness.
The book, ‘Spartan Up!’, the biography of the creator of Spartan Race provides an amazing insight into the mental side of endurance and obstacle racing.
I can guarantee you you will not find an individual who’s completed one of these events that’s a mental wimp.
4 - Practise Stoicism
Stoicism, particularly the writing of Marcus Aurelius and Seneca are so powerful, yet so often read.
These two ancient stoics preached subjecting themselves to discomfort and placing themselves in unfavorable situations just to build the mental fortitude incase one day they were forced to live in those conditions.
If you’re fretting over whether to quit your job and start your own business you should practise living out your fears, the most negative, worst case scenario possible. Think about it, discover what it is and then temporarily subject yourself to it.
Is the thought of losing your house the biggest roadblock preventing you from chasing those goals? If so, spend a weekend without your house – sleep outside, live out of a bag.
Is your biggest fear having your car repossessed because you can’t meet payments? Spend a day walking – don’t go near your car.
Our mind conceives these hypothetical situations to be far worse than they actually are.
99% of people will go forward and boldly take action on whatever it is they want to do after they replicate the worst case scenario… because they often find it isn’t really that bad.
5 - Eat Clean
It's true, you can build muscle and burn fat eating junk food, as both gaining and losing weight are a simple matter of calories in vs. calories out.
But why eat junk food to build muscle when your overall quality of life is awful?
Eating unprocessed, clean and green foods while provided you with a steady state of energy and the endurance to dominate your day.
You can be physically strong and mentally tough, but if you're unable to sustain the energy levels you need to embrace chaos and thrive in these situations you're out of luck.
Focus on solid nutrition, no junk.