Most folks like things to be easy. Right? I mean, who wants to make their lives more difficult? We all have plenty of problems in our lives, and adding another problem on top of them is just nuts.
Well, that’s the wrong attitude, and I’m going to show you why.
There’s are some old sayings that I’d like to share with you:
“That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
“God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.”
See the theme here? It’s pretty simple: the challenges in our lives are what make us stronger and more resilient.
Here’s a post that I saw yesterday on Facebook, posted by the Mud Ninja (a race that I’m running next month).
That’s right, the Mud Ninja has added their equivalent of the American Ninja Warped Wall to the course. (If you’re not familiar with the Warped Wall, here you go:)
You can bet that this new obstacle isn’t going to be right at the beginning, where it’d be easier. No, that race is going to wear you down a bit. Make you suffer a bit, and then throw it at you.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Nor should you.
What exactly is it that makes us stronger? Well, you have to work out, right? No, it’s not just that simple: you have to do something that you may not have done before and do it hard.
Experts will tell you that the practice of doing the same workouts all the time will lose effectiveness after a while. Exercise programs like Crossfit and P90X and such are effective because they don’t work you the same way every day. They surprise the muscles and switch things up regularly. The most effective programs are the ones that change things up on occasion.
Whether you call it muscle confusion, or periodization, or specialized variety, the point is that its the stuff that is new and challenging in a workout that’s going to have the most effect on you. (And yes, I understand that all these concepts aren’t technically the same – but the one thing they all have in common is the importance of change.)
Change is a good thing in life. It keeps our minds focused and malleable, our bodies fit and prepared, and our emotions resilient. It helps us not be set in our ways, and prepares us to tackle the inevitable further challenges that will come to us.
In a way, an obstacle course race is like a microcosm of every day life. There are the parts that you can handle well – you’re great at crawling, and seeing the barbed wire-crawl obstacles makes you smile and go for it. But you’re not as good at the climbing ones, and they always give you a bit of pause if not throwing some actual fear into your life.
You can walk around those obstacles, or you can try them. But what is going to improve you as a person?
The answer is pretty obvious – try them. You might fail that time. But then you’ll know what you have to focus on in your workouts to get ready for the next race and make adjustments.
Life isn’t a single race. It’s a series of races – and each race presents new and old challenges in them. And if you keep thinking about how you’re going to handle the changes and challenges next time, then you’re on the right track. This time, you’re just seeing how you do against the challenge. And maybe you’ll overcome it just fine the first time – that’s great. And if you don’t, that’s great too.
The point is: don’t be afraid of it. Enjoy it. Look forward to it! Taking it with the right attitude is part of what makes life great – appreciating the change and challenge instead of fearing is a great sign that you’re getting better and will continue to get better.