Our ancestors evolved fighting, hunting, protecting, struggling, persevering and eventually winning. And when we win, we get rewarded with a boost of dopamine and androgens.
In modernity, there are not a lot of natural opportunities to put yourselves in harm's way, to overcome real struggle, to really fight for something of value.
I believe for us to really thrive, we have to possess a type of high courage to continue to fight for something meaningful, to foster an inner fire, to take real risks and to continue to create ways to win. This is how we avoid falling into a rut.
Look for opportunities that scare the shit out of yourself! In this way, we can honor the legacy of our ancestors and our biology so that we can enjoy the spoils of the modern world and express the best version of ourselves.
WHY SHOULD I SEEK OUT CHALLENGE?
The key to making life feel exciting and interesting is change and primal purpose. Novelty is what our DNA expects.
In the modern world, we do the same things over, and over, and over. We just sort of exist on autopilot. Try to foster interest by changing everything - sleep differently, eat differently, move differently - and work to become a greater level of mind, body and spirit.
WHERE DO I BEGIN?
Start with simple things that can create novelty like, brushing your teeth with the other hand, crossing your arms left over right, sitting in a different chair in a different way, driving different paths to and from new and old places, taking a freezing cold shower. Don’t let yourself exist on autopilot. Do things that remind you what it’s like to feel alive. Things like an ice cold shower seemingly puts you in harms way, and will overcome this struggle.
We are sapiens of genus homo, hunters, gathers, nomads. Comfort is not good for the organism.
HOW CAN I PUSH EVEN FURTHER?
Try a 5-day water fast. This acts like a genetic reset of sorts and it provides the mind, body, spirit framework for real struggle. Then progress by trying other things like:
- Chopping firewood to make a backyard fire
- Try Crossfit and push yourself to the edge
- Learn and become proficient at throwing daggers
- Go to the shooting range
- Play sports
- Go play paintball
- Play first person shooter games
- Go bungee jumping
- Get on a roller coaster
- Go bouldering or rock climbing
- Take up an extreme sport
- Stand up for someone in public
When was the last time that you did something that really scared the shit out of you?
WHAT IS THE LONG-TERM BENEFIT?
As Diane Ackerman puts it, “Where there is no risk, the emotional terrain is flat and unyielding, and, despite all its dimensions, valleys, pinnacles, and detours, life will seem to have none of its magnificent geography, only a length.”
In the context of a lifetime, these moments of intensity are ours to carry with us. They help expand the proportions of our living and create a certain kind of energy that extends beyond our flesh. They fill a well that sustains the life we go back to.
Struggle promotes evolution. When a species struggles, they evolve, they become stronger and better. Simulating struggle and overcoming develops strength which is why Fight and Cold are two of my favorite Tenets.
DO YOU PRACTICE ANY MARTIAL ARTS?
We practice Jiu jitsu every Thursday. However, the “Fight” is much more than its literal translation. It’s about overcoming adversity and struggle, it’s the way of the evolutionary hunter, and it’s the way forward to express your most dominant form.
YOU OFTEN TALK ABOUT SIMULATING HUNTS. HOW CAN I DO THAT?
When our ancestors broke their periods of famine with something of substantial nourishment, it required a successful hunt. Hunting required real effort.
To simulate heavy effort, you can do something of substantial struggle in a condensed time frame. Like:
- Tabata push-ups
- complete sprints
- heavy carries
- Kettle Bell swings
To conclude a simulated hunt, you can carry a heavy sandbag over your shoulders to replicate a carcass carry.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SIMULATED HUNTS?
You’ll feel better, you’ll look better, you’ll function better and every morsel of food will taste better.