Once upon a time, life was astronomically harder than it is today. Hard tasks had to be done every day just to stay alive. Hunting animals, protecting yourself and your tribe, building shelter, traveling on foot, experiencing the cold of winter and the heat of summer, etc.. Now we all do comparatively easy jobs 5 days a week, while we sit in our air conditioned or heated houses, watching the latest entertainment, making one trip per week to the grocery store where we have our pick of an endless variety of food. We don’t really have to do a single difficult thing to survive anymore. We have the most luxurious lives in the history of mankind, yet we don’t seem to be thriving like one would imagine we’d be. It’s almost as if something is lacking. I think that something may be doing challenging stuff.
Turns out the science backs this thought. By doing challenging things and accomplishing tasks, a variety of things happen:
1. Endorphin Release
When you tackle difficult tasks or engage in challenging physical activities, your body releases endorphins. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that act as natural painkillers and mood enhancers. They help reduce stress and anxiety and promote a sense of happiness and euphoria.
2. Sense of Accomplishment:
Overcoming a difficult challenge or achieving a goal can create a strong sense of accomplishment and boost your self-confidence. Accomplishment is associated with feelings of competence and success, leading to increased positive emotions.
Taking on challenging tasks can stimulate the brain’s ability to adapt and rewire itself, known as neuroplasticity. Learning and mastering new skills can lead to the growth of neural connections, which is beneficial for cognitive health and emotional well-being.
Dopamine is another neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. It is released when you achieve a goal or experience positive reinforcement. The anticipation of a reward from completing a difficult task can also lead to increased dopamine levels.
5. Enhanced Resilience:
Facing and overcoming challenges can strengthen your resilience. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from setbacks and difficult situations, and it plays a crucial role in maintaining positive mental health.
6. Personal Growth:
Engaging in hard tasks often involves stepping out of your comfort zone, which fosters personal growth and development. The process of pushing your boundaries and acquiring new skills can lead to a greater sense of fulfillment and life satisfaction.
7. Social Recognition and Validation:
Accomplishing challenging tasks can lead to recognition and validation from others, which can further enhance feelings of happiness and self-worth.
As a personal trainer, I have experimented with many difficult tasks and experienced the rewards that come from them. Stuff as small as individual training sessions will be enough to experience some benefits for most people. You can continue to scale into much harder things such as marathons or starting businesses for larger payoffs. Although it is not realistic to ask the average person to run a marathon every week to feel better, there are a ton of other things that can be done to enhance your life. Ice baths, sauna, cardio, talking to strangers if you’re shy, eating healthy foods that may not be your favourite, getting 8 hours of sleep, limiting your screen time, doing something physical instead of sitting on the couch, starting a side hustle, learning a new skill, etc.. Anything that you may not want to do but deep down you know would improve your life will do the trick.
Not only will you get to experience the rewards from doing hard things, your life will improve significantly overall as each hard task accomplished will compound on each other.
For example, you eat healthy natural foods, you resistance train, and you run each week. Yes, you get those immediate rewards from endorphins, but you also become a very healthy individual. You are now in better shape, you have more energy, you experience better moods, you look better.
You also start a side hustle/business. It starts to become successful and you get all of the rewards mentioned above. You also now have a second stream of income, you have more money, you control your hours of work, and you have the freedom of working for yourself. All of this plus you’re in fantastic shape from your diet and workout routine that’s become habitual and doesn’t even feel like work anymore.
Life gets pretty good. Keep tackling the hard stuff and it only gets better.
As a personal training professional, I often see people shy away from doing these difficult things. I’ve lost count of how many times someone tells me they hate the cold when I discuss cold exposure. Despite the numerous benefits, people are not willing to embrace the discomfort of the cold. However, that discomfort creates growth. It helps you feel better and it makes your life better. Some of the happiest moments of my life are directly after completing the hardest things I’ve ever done. One moment that stands out is the outright euphoria after I finished a Spartan half marathon at Mt. Tremblant.
To summarize simply, you have two options, do hard stuff now and live an easy life, or do easy stuff now and live a hard life. The choice is yours.
One way to take a step in the right direction is to hire a personal trainer, get in the best shape of your life, and then continue running towards the hard stuff instead of avoiding it. Take action now and set up your complimentary consultation with myself -> Tommy Kudoba Fitness