Tag Archive | Challenge

The Obstacle is the Way 5

Be uncomfortable every day of your life. (David Goggins)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

Discomfort is a need.

It is fundamental for growth. Without discomfort, without venturing outside the limits of your comfort zone, it is impossible to grow.

Discomfort is a practice.

It is fundamental for maintaining growth. Unused capacities atrophy. To have a capacity forever, you must practice it forever.

Daily exposure to discomfort increases your capacity to tolerate – and even enjoy – discomfort.”

“How do you practice discomfort?”

“I do some form of intense physical activity every day. The practice is to push past the point when my body signals me to stop.

I take a cold shower every day. The practice is to calm myself using the breath.

I do breath-holds throughout the day. The practice is to calm myself mentally, without using the breath.

I frequently do Parkour challenges which expose me to fear.”

“How about expanding it in the sphere of the social?”

“That’s something I’m building up to. Strangely, I find it more difficult than all the previous ones combined.”

The Movement Game 4

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I move more?”

Play with building little challenges into everyday activities.

Take putting on your socks for instance. The default is doing it by sitting. You can do better.

Put on your socks while standing.
Put on your socks while standing on a balancing board.

You thus turn an everyday activity into a little movement snack [<link; medium read]. 

When people think of movement, they usually think of infrequent relatively large sessions.

I’ve inverted the paradigm: frequent short sessions throughout the day.

Taken individually, they may not look like much. But over the course of a day, all these little snacks compound [<link; medium read].”

On Learning and Challenge

Learning should be hard.

If you’re finding it hard, you’re doing it right.

If you’re finding it easy, you’re not learning anything at all.

(Ali Abdaal)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How challenging was your last learning time-block?”

“Now that I think of it, not very. I read, I highlighted the useful bits and copied them in my commonplace book. It took close to zero effort.”

“This is our default tendency, the path of least resistance. But in taking this path, our learning efficiency is very low. 

Challenge is feedback. 

In the moment, it reveals your level of engagement.

Are you challenging yourself?
Are you actively learning?

Looking backward, it serves as a benchmark for optimization.”

The Essence of Meditation 3

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the essence of the meditation practice?”

Concentration, or Focus. Maintaining your attention on one thing in spite of distractions. This focus point is called the anchor.”

“Aren’t you supposed to focus on your breath?”

“It can be your breath or anything else. The breath is a beautiful anchor because it’s a powerful physiological tool in itself. By slowing it down, it has a calming effect.”

“Aren’t you supposed to do it in a distraction-free environment?”

“There are two types of distractions: internal and external. The main type of distractions are internal – your own thoughts. 

A distraction-free external environment makes the practice easier – though by no means easy. You progress in the practice by adding challenge. It can be adding various levels of external distraction, and/or doing it in various states of inner turmoil.”

The Challenge Principle

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I can’t meditate. My mind is racing / I’m feeling x.”

That’s the BEST time to meditate.

Remember the ultimate goal of the practice.”

Achieving Stillness under ANY conditions.

“Keep that in mind always, and treasure any opportunity to practice it.”

Challenge as Guide

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I have two options that are equally attractive. Which one should I choose?”

The more challenging one.

“Didn’t you use Beauty as the guide [<link; short length]?”

“I do. In my view, Beauty is a rich and nuanced model. Challenge is one aspect of it.

Another way to think of challenge is as a metaphoric obstacle.”

“The Obstacle is the Way?”

“Yes. Or, to put it differently:

The Obstacle SHOWS the Way.