The Necessity of Hardship by Nick Scott

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The necessity of hardship.

Below is another insightful article by Coach Nick Scott. A lot of strength and conditioning coaches criticize CrossFit for its extreme workouts. This is a unique look at where the puking and craziness might have a purpose. I have never heard anyone explain the benefits of suffering before. It definitely left me thinking.

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Now enjoy his article:

It was Buddha who said, “Life is suffering.” This is a stark and somewhat dark observation on life. Nonetheless, incredibly true no matter how you slice it. We live in a fascinating time, a time of technological wonders, the ability to talk to the entire planet in an instant. We have more computing power in our digital watches than the lunar module NASA used to land on the moon. Our phones are the equivalent of supercomputers from 15 years ago. We can do nearly anything our hearts desire, the power is literally at our fingertips. Herein lies the paradox.

We have the ability to do more in less time, and with less effort than human beings have ever been able to do in history. So we get used to doing less. The paradox here is this, the human body relies on stress to improve itself, and the only way to stress yourself is to do more.

In 10 years, we’ll have the technology “augmented reality,” and we’ll literally be connected to everything at all times. At this rate, people will have nearly no environmental/physical stressors in their daily lives. Sounds nice eh? Well, not so much, because by flooding our senses with social media, video games, movies, and TV, we are creating more mental stress. And you see, without balancing the physical and mental stresses in our lives, we create a lot more disparity. First, bodyfat to muscle mass ratios become imbalanced. Second, the body’s ability to control cortisol (stress hormone) is stunted. Third, since we become less active, our hearts become weaker (figuratively and literally). While there is little to no physical stress, mental stress will increase and our ability to handle mental stress will decrease.

People with this issue may become reliant on anti-depressants or self-medicate using alcohol or other drugs. This makes the issue, obviously, worse. How will people overcome this; how will we balance this? Perhaps Buddha can shed some light with his observation that life is suffering. As I said, the human body improves itself in response to environmental stress. It adapts itself to make itself more survivable. So maybe life should include a little more suffering.

When you work out, your body strengthens its muscles, nervous system, improves metabolism, improves heart function, decreases cortisol, releases endorphins (feel good hormones), improves sleep quality, etc.
Interestingly, while we have seen this explosion in technology we have also seen an explosion in certain areas of fitness. Adventure races such as Tough Mudder, Spartan race, and warrior dashes have exploded onto the scene. CrossFit now has more affiliates worldwide than there are Starbucks stores (literally). Triathlons, marathons, mixed martial arts, and many other types of extreme/fringe sports have also become more popular. There is one thing all these things have in common: They suck, they hurt, they make you miserable, seriously feel terrible. Essentially, they cause you to suffer. I think this is a natural attempt to create and find a balance between a life surrounded with the ability to do nearly everything without having to leave the couch, and the needs of the human body.

People are creating their own suffering by participating in CrossFit and other extreme sports. I think it’s because they intuitively understand that if they don’t introduce stress/suffering into their lives, their quality of life at 40 will be the equivalent of someone twice that age…and maybe even be in some cases a self-imposed early death.

Buddha said life is suffering, and maybe that isn’t such a bad thing. In fact it might be just what you need. Life is about creating, finding, and seeking balance. So, if you’re glued to your phone, laptop, or TV, get up and go seek something to make yourself uncomfortable. Go for a run, throw down on a swole sesh with your bros, drop in a CrossFit box for a meeting with Pukie the Clown, sign up for a Tough Mudder and train for it. Your body will thank you, your mind will thank you, and you’ll discover a little more of what life is about…experiences.
Create your own suffering and live.

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