Can Cold Showers Make You More Successful?
Two years ago, one of the pipes in my well froze.
I figured it out when I got up to take a nice, warm, lingering shower. A choking sound came from the faucet. It’s like it said, “Uh, not today, Buddy. I’m taking some personal time.”
My scalp is naturally oily, so I knew I’d at least want to wash my hair. But how?
Then I remembered we had a few dozen water bottles in the pantry. I grabbed one and headed to the bathroom.
“This is room temperature,” I told myself. “It can’t be that bad.”
I leaned over the side of the tub and began pouring.
I thought my heart stopped for a minute. How could that water be so frigging cold when the temperature in my house was 72 degrees?
Well, when you put 70 degree water on your 98 degree skin, the contrast is huge. I wanted clean hair, so I pushed my way through the torture to have it.
Jumping into the icy pool
Every summer we visit my parents’ pool.
When the temperature is 95 degrees every afternoon, you dread going outside. But the prospect of jumping into a refreshing pool of water is almost irresistible.
Most of the time we stand in the sun long enough to start sweating. That gives us the courage to climb down the ladder into the pool.
The pool water is chilly, about 70 degrees. All morning it sits in the shade. When you climb down the ladder and feel that cold water creep up your leg, it takes your breath away, little by little. It’s hilarious to watch us old people make such a big deal about cooling off.
Sometimes we have a lot of kids over. What do they do when it’s hot and they see a pool? They jump in. Kerplunk! No worries. No hesitation. Just take a leap of faith into the time of your life.
Then I tried it.
The shock was huge — at first. But once I was submerged, I had no choice but to get used to the drastic change in temperature. Within just a few seconds, I did what it took me ten minutes of creeping down the ladder to do.
Life is filled with uncomfortable moments.
- Difficult conversations that make you tremble
- Hard decisions you must make that anger your coworkers
- Publishing something that makes you feel vulnerable
Add your own stressors to this list.
Yesterday, I attempted to do my taxes. One of the first questions was, “How do you feel about doing your taxes?”
I chose “Don’t ask.”
Fortunately, the process wasn’t as bad as I imagined.
Dr. David Schwartz wrote a book back in 1959 called The Magic of Thinking Big. One of the first lessons is just three words long:
Action cures fear.
The more you wait to do something you want to do, the more fear builds. The only way to get past it is to take action. It’s the same as jumping into that cold pool on a hot summer day. The longer you wait, the less likely you are to go in. If you jump in, you’ll find that the whole experience wasn’t so bad. In fact, it’s pretty awesome.
Be careful, though
I tried cold shower therapy at home.
It turns out my shower knob doesn’t offer cold water. Darn it!
There is one risk you need to consider. The shock to your system can be bad for your heart. So be careful. Ease your way into this. If you’ve never done this before, don’t go to Alaska and do a polar swim event.
You want to be more alive, right?
The idea isn’t to endure cold water per se. You’re developing a tolerance for discomfort. And it’s through the door of discomfort that the best things happen.
When I met the woman who became my wife, I had to go through some discomfort. First, she was dating my roommate. He had confided in me that he really wasn’t sure he wanted to be with her. So I patiently listened and advised him to let her go.
When he did, I was there to comfort her.
That didn’t lead to a date, but it did open the door to conversation. Slowly, I persevered and got to know her. I wanted her to trust me, not see me as some kind of vulture sweeping in to prey on a newly jilted woman.
When I worked up the nerve to ask her out, I thought I’d die. I didn’t. I pushed myself through it. I called on all the skills I learned in the Dale Carnegie course.
“You want to go see Dead Poets Society with me?”
What? No hair washing? No visit with your sister? Cool.
All those weeks of laying the groundwork finally paid off.
Push through discomfort. Do it often. It might just be the one thing that changes your life forever.