Everyone should do something that is difficult, and that they aren’t that good at.
I really believe this. For me, my most recent example of this (a la year long experiment thus far) is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I’m really not that good at it. I’m not that flexible. I’m not what you consider a “tough guy”. I smile a lot. I’m pretty friendly. I’m built more like a runner than a fighter.
Whenever I go to the Gracie Barra that I train at, I repeatedly get beat up. I get tapped. I get tangled. I get tied into a pretzel. I come home sore and many times bruised.
It is so crazy, but it feels great. Every time I attend a class (which I did last night) I really come home feeling great about myself. I have pondered why this is the case. I have wondered why, when I am doing something that is not comfortable, after the event (even though there is often pain involved), I come home feeling great. I think I have an answer.
Here are my “5 Reasons Everyone Should Do Things That Are Difficult And That They Aren’t That Good At”:
- We live in a world where we are constantly and consciously trying to eliminate pain and difficulty. We actually become paranoid about “experiencing” anything that will potentially hurt us. But pain has its place. It makes us strong. It makes us brave. It gives us a reference point for what we can and can’t tolerate. If we didn’t experience pain we couldn’t grow. In many cases I am amazed at just how much I can actually endure. When I realize this I feel great about myself;
- Every time I do something that I am scared of, after I actually do it, I come out with a much greater sense of self. I feel like I have a victory. Even though I can’t tap out hardly anyone in the gym, I still get a victory every time I go. I get the victory of myself over myself. I have defeated my fear. This makes me feel great;
- When you aren’t very good at something, you can only improve. You are already at the bottom. You are already the worst. So you have nothing to prove. You have nothing to lose. Everything is a gain. When you realize this, each experience becomes enjoyable because you are learning, you are making progress (even if that progress is very slow);
- Doing something that is difficult and that you aren’t that good at removes your ego. This is one of the most enjoyable things in life. Your ego is your “monkey brain”. It is what brings jealously, unhappiness and anxiety into your life. When you are getting beat up (literally or metaphorically) in an activity you can’t have an ego. Your ego is gone. When this happens you are in such a wonderful place. You wonder why you ever had an ego in the first place. You realize what a liability your ego has always been; and
- When you attempt difficult things you realize that you want to attempt more. Then your life starts to expand. You get adventurous. You get curious. These are some of the most important traits for long term happiness in my opinion.