“It takes 21 days to make a habit” is one of the most common phrases we hear. But how long does it take to make a new mindset, something beyond a habit, but instead, a whole new way of thinking? How long does that take?
In the first 21 seconds of my first ever intentional cold shower, I had created a new mindset.
It took 21 seconds.
Why did I do it? Why did I take a freezing cold shower in the first place? I wasn’t sure at the time, and I continued to ask myself that, along with some other questions. Most I had answers to, except one, how long can I keep this up?
The internal dialogue went something like this:
“Why am I doing this?” — because it will make me better, I think.
“How will it make me better?” — it will teach me discipline, I hope.
“How will it teach discipline?” — I’m enduring discomfort on purpose, and in doing so, I am in control of my self-will and not subject to my desires.
“Why does having self-discipline matter?” — because if I can’t discipline my self-will to endure a few minutes of physical, non-harmful discomfort, how can I endure progressive, life-improving discomfort and become the best version of me I can be? How can I resist laziness, fear of failure, and taking the “easy road?”
The last question I asked myself was “how long can I keep this up?” I didn’t know the answer to that one….
But for 21 days I have been taking the coldest showers possible. If the shower knob can go colder, I’ll give it a slight touch that direction.
21 days without a drop of warm water on my body.
I’ll admit, the first couple of times I did this there was a certain meditative component. I felt I was “harnessing my inner Chi,” even though I have no idea what that really means, and don’t prescribe to any philosophy of the sort. But, much like we do on a treadmill: rather than stopping at .98 miles or 2.95 miles, we push through to the full mile-marker, not always because we believe that the extra distance will change our physical stature, but because we find an extreme self-gratification in successfully enduring hardship simply for the sake of mastering our self-weakness and desire to take the “easy road.”
You might wonder: after crossing the 21-day mark, is taking cold showers a habit now? I don’t know. But I do know this:
- On many days, it’s the hardest part of my day (everything else seems so easy after).
- I still crave a hot steamy shower and I still have to dominate my self-desire for comfort every single day.
- I feel more in control of my life and I am slowly learning to put laziness, fear of failure/discomfort, and taking the “easy road” to death in my life.
Since I started the cold showers 21 days ago I have also practiced a higher level of self-discipline by: meticulously sticking to my exercise plan, eating healthy and resisting sweets & treats, limiting my caffeine intake (which was far too high), making my bed in the morning, reading diligently, improving my posture and eye contact with others, stretching regularly, and in many other ways.
I guess you could say I’ve formed a habit in 21 days. A habit of elevating. A habit of self-discipline. A habit of controlling my human desire for having everything the easy and comfortable way. A habit of killing off “Lazy Chris.”
A habit of freezing cold showers…
I know. That’s half the fun.
For more on cold water showers, cold water therapy, etc. I’ve included an article below on Cryotherapy, and a couple of blog articles on Cold Water and Cold Showers.
(Disclosure: Cold water therapy is not something I made up. Athletes use ice baths for muscle rehabilitation. Spas use water and temperature extremes for skin and muscle advantages. Supposedly, Bruce Willis splashes cold water on his face every morning (how else do you think he keeps that great skin?). I also did not conjure up the idea of putting myself through discomfort to achieve self-disciple either. The practice is thousands of years old and is used in various ways, from radical Catholic monks punishing themselves physically for sinning (self-flagellation), to Kevin Garnett snapping a rubber band around his wrist every time he missed a free throw. At this time, I do not recommend ANY other practices besides cold showers. There are many ways to achieve self-discipline. The key is to find an ethical and safe method for yourself.)
On Cold Water Therapy: http://paleoleap.com/cold-water-therapy/
On Cryogenic Therapy: http://healthcare.dmagazine.com/2014/05/19/whole-body-cryogenic-therapy-a-secret-weapon-for-recovery-or-sham-science/
On Cold Shower Challenge: http://impossiblehq.com/cold-shower-therapy-guide/
On Health Benefits of Cold Showers http://www.medicaldaily.com/benefits-cold-showers-7-reasons-why-taking-cool-showers-good-your-health-289524