This experiment was not undertaken to understand or realize the health benefits of taking cold showers. These have been documented and commented upon in many different ways. This experiment was undertaken to learn mental lessons.
People claim that this experiment teaches you much about success and mental strength, so that is what we are going to look for. This will not be a day by day analysis, but an overview of the most important lessons learned. Let’s channel our inner Yoda.
It’s Easy To Start
This might sound strange, since if you are not used to cold showers, the first one is a huge shock. However, let’s dress this up in a new context. Let’s say that you are starting a new diet, or a new training routine, or even a business idea. How hard is the first day? The first workout? It isn’t that difficult. You are motivated, you are fresh, you are ready for the challenge. You feel great afterwards, and you pat yourself on the back.
This is a key lesson in the cold shower experiment. The first shower, although it is physically painful, is not difficult mentally. You are just starting out, you are interested, excited and prepared. This can be applied to most things in life.
Starting strong is important, but it is the long run that counts.
Cold showers are cold
After the initial elation after the first shower or two, reality begins to set in. I had a day where my business was dealt a blow, I argued with my wife, and I had a headache. This is where your commitment is tested. It is in these moments where something like a “quirky shower experiment” suddenly becomes really stupid.
This is the same for anything you are working on succeeding in. Trying to build a business? On a bad day it will feel like you are wasting your time and energy on a childish endeavor. Trying to get in shape? On occasion it will seem as though you are getting nowhere. These are the times that your commitment is tested, and you develop your strength to continue.
For this alone I would recommend this experiment. It isolates the feelings that you feel when you are struggling to create something great. The thoughts that you have here will be almost the exact same thoughts as when you want to give up on your business or your body.
Your commitment will be tested, you will feel like you have no reasons to continue. Learn to defeat these thoughts.
Don’t Pick Up The Soap
I dropped the soap once, and regretted it immensely. You may not want to picture me bending over in the shower, but that simple act was a great lesson. (Stop making prison jokes).
When you are standing in a cold shower, you are mentally braced, you are physically ready for the torrent of freezing cold hell on your skin. However, performing a normal menial task such as picking something up becomes painful. The cold water starts to hit you in a position of weakness, you aren’t “ready” for the cold, it makes this normal mundane activity into a real struggle.
The lesson here is clear. When you are in the process of creating something, you may be prepared for the difficulties facing your business, or your diet. But the things that knock you off balance the most are the mundane day to day issues you face.
You may not be prepared for the ways that your choices will effect your life. Your relationships may change, your spare time might shrink, amidst other things. The cold shower shows that these simple tasks can suddenly become a huge pain in the ass. It’s a good lesson.
Be prepared face challenges arising from areas you didn’t expect.
It’s Easy to Quit
The handle is right there. All you have to do it stretch out your hand, twist the nob and a waterfall filled with delicious warm water will cascade over you. This was the temptation at all times facing you in the shower. The thoughts will come every time, “you don’t need to be doing this”, “you’ve had a hard day”, “I think my genitals have all but disappeared” etc. These (apart from the last one) will be the same things you will hear in your head when facing other challenges.
The temptation to quit will always be present. Going back to eating the crap you used to, quitting your business and getting a job. When the fear or the pain sets in, this is when you will be tempted to “turn the water hot”. Learning that this will pass will serve you in seeing things through until you succeed.
It is all too easy to quit. Grit your teeth and see it through.
You Feel Great After a Shower
This is not about how you feel after completing the whole challenge. This is about small victories along the way. When you step out of a cold shower, you feel refreshed, energized, and generally fantastic. These can help motivate you to carry on, and the feeling becomes addictive.
This teaches us the lesson that although the road to success can be a difficult one, there are victories you should cherish every day. You may have the worst day ever, you want to quit, to change, to do anything to spare yourself further pain. But you stick with it, and that choice represents victory. It is victories like that you need to focus on daily. Giving in to pain or fear never helped anyone build something truly great.
Cherish the daily victories. They will help you keep going.
Cold showers are quite awesome generally. Apart from all the lessons that can be applied to real life, they can sometimes be just what you need to wake yourself up in the morning, or remind yourself that you are alive. Moving forward, I will include cold showers into my week regularly. I may not be so militant in having them everyday, but who doesn’t need a cold douse of reality every now and then?