I love cold showers. I hate them, but I love them because the more & more I do them, the more I see them as a litmus test for who you are as a person.
In fact, Every time someone tries to explain why they don’t need to take cold showers before they even try it – I lose a little bit of respect for them.
Because cold showers are such a simple, and accessible way to practice being uncomfortable, with almost no opportunity cost or downside besides being cold for a few short moments. Even when people don’t believe me about the psychological/discipline/mental benefits of #cst that I talk about constantly, there’s still a ton of real-world health benefits to cold showers.
There’s tons of updside to simple, short practice of something you already spend time doing with almost no downside (and if you need someone to hold your hand while you do them every day for 30 days, I’ll even do that too).
But despite all the reasons people want to give me about why they don’t need to take cold showers, why they’re the exception to the rule and why it doesn’t apply to them – every single response boils down to two excuses why people won’t take cold showers.
Reason #1: Inability
You are physically incapable of taking a cold shower. Either the fear of taking a cold shower is absolutely crippling, or your small little bubble of comfort is so vitally important that there’s absolutely nothing, nothing, nothing, that’s worth ever worth the tradeoff.
A few days ago, people were going back and forth on twitter about #cst and someone stated:
“I’ll take a hot shower any day…I would rather be relaxed than ticked off.”
I find that sad. Not sad in the sarcastic sense, but sad as in it actually makes me sad for the person. Essentially they’re saying that their goal in their life is to be “relaxed” rather than doing something important or meaningful that might be hard, difficult or uncomfortable. Even if it might “tick” them off.
Now, they’ll quickly say, “but it’s just a shower – it’s not my life” and I will vehemently disagree.
How you do anything is how you do everything. If you let that beat you in the shower – it’s only a matter of time until it beats you in life. Consider this quote:
“Bruce had me up to three miles a day, really at a good pace. We’d run the three miles in twenty-one or twenty-two minutes. Just under eight minutes a mile [Note: when running on his own in 1968, Lee would get his time down to six-and-a half minutes per mile]. So this morning he said to me “We’re going to go five.” I said, “Bruce, I can’t go five. I’m a helluva lot older than you are, and I can’t do five.” He said, “When we get to three, we’ll shift gears and it’s only two more and you’ll do it.” I said “Okay, hell, I’ll go for it.” So we get to three, we go into the fourth mile and I’m okay for three or four minutes, and then I really begin to give out. I’m tired, my heart’s pounding, I can’t go any more and so I say to him, “Bruce if I run any more,” –and we’re still running-”if I run any more I’m liable to have a heart attack and die.” He said, “Then die.” It made me so mad that I went the full five miles. Afterward I went to the shower and then I wanted to talk to him about it. I said, you know, “Why did you say that?” He said, “Because you might as well be dead. Seriously, if you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level.” - Then Die
Every time I read this, I always end up coming back to this one part:
If you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being.
How you do anything is how you do everything.
If you physically can’t take cold showers (not even 30 days of it, but just one, 5-minute cold shower) – just say it – but know that if you put a limit on one area of your life (even if it’s as dumb as changing the temperature of your shower), it’s going to carry over to other areas of your life and there are going to be other areas where you “can’t” do something because you’re not willing to make the tradeoff.
This is where a lot of people say something like:
“Well, you don’t understand…I really like hot showers.”
Well, yeah, so do I. In fact, I completely understand. That’s normal and that’s exactly the point. By taking a cold shower, you’re choosing to do something you normally wouldn’t do – even though it may be uncomfortable.
People love this theory of being uncomfortable (they’ll comment on the posts, pin the crap out of the image above & tell you in person that it’s a great talk), but as soon as you ask them to put it into practice – with something as simple as cold showers – their real character shows. It becomes very apparent whether they actually want to start doing something or if they just want to browse inspirational porn and live vicariously through someone else.
Cold showers can train you every single day to do something and make the tougher, uncomfortable choice.
Reason #2: Arrogance
This might be the even more dangerous excuse – and sadly, it’s almost more common. Easily, the first thing 90% of people will say when they hear about cold shower therapy is:
- That’s stupid.
- That’s so dumb.
- There’s no way that’s actually helpful.
- That’s a stupid idea & you should feel stupid.
- You’re a terrible person Joel and I hate you.
See it’s not enough for someone to just think it’s stupid – they have to let you know how stupid they think it is. I got this email from an ex-subscriber a couple months back (names redacted to protect the
Yes, Bill Gates and Pres Obama are successful because they take cold showers. I’m unsubscribing, you must think we’re real idiots.
My response: Seeya!
I’m okay with those people unsubscribing, because I don’t want that type of audience. I don’t want a bunch of readers who are trying to rationalize their comfortable life. I want doers.
What’s funny is that every person who sends me a response like this think they’re original. They think that somehow I haven’t heard those excuses before.
I’ve got bad news: it’s not original. That’s exactly what I thought when I started. That’s what everyone thinks when they start. But guess what?
If you’re so arrogant that you judge & dismiss an opportunity to get better without even trying it – that’s going to seep into every other area of your life.
I talk about being uncomfortable with endurance sports & life in general, and I understand that not everyone will run a marathon, jump out of planes, or travel around the world. Those aren’t as tangible to everyone. They can seem like lofty, crazy, impossible goals. I get that.
But a cold shower?
And all it takes is 5 minutes of something you already do every day to test a theory. If you think your 5 minutes is too invaluable to even attempt such a thing (even if for no other reason than to just shut me up) – you might have an arrogance problem and it’s going to keep you from doing some pretty amazing things that might just sound a little bit stupid at first.
Why This Matters
So why does this matter? Why won’t I just shut up about this already? Well, the two reasons that most people miss out on opportunities in life are the same reasons most people refuse to take cold showers.
Inability To Become Uncomfortable
The inability isn’t really an inability to DO the thing at all. It’s an inability to make yourself uncomfortable. It’s an unwillingness to make the tradeoff necessary for the results desired.
Don’t be upset by the results you didn’t get with the work you didn’t do.
People do this all the time – either consicously or unconsciously where they give up before they even start. They “pre-disqualify” themselves. They become “inable” to do it. By doing so, they take away any power they might have to change things. They let life roll over them – because it’s simply “too hard” to do the things they say they want to do, so they settle for doing the stuff that’s easy, comfortable and “normal.”
It’s an incredibly dangerous mindset to cultivate (one I did for years) and this is how so many people don’t even try to do the things they want to do.
Arrogance To Believe Something Crazy Just Might Work
This is equally as dangerous.
If you’ve ever seen even a tiny bit of success, the most important thing in the world to realize is that you don’t know it all. You have to cultivate an attitude of humility. If you fail to do this, you’ll tend to think you’re invincible, immortal or above the rules for a half-second, and you’ll begin your descent downwards.
So before you start to say, “I don’t need to take cold showers because of XYZ reason because I’m the exception” pause for second and realize that’s what everyone says.
That’s not a figure of speech. Literally, everyone says that.
And they’re all lying to themselves. Until you step into the cold water – you’re lying to yourself.
Because the only people that don’t need to take the cold showers are the ones that are already in the shower before they finish this article. Because they’re not looking for reasons to stay comfortable – that’s their main concern. That’s not their primary aim. They’re looking for reasons to get better. So when they’re offered a way to get better – like taking 5 minutes of cold showers – it’s a no-brainer for them.
They do a super-fast cost/benefit analysis in their head:
Worst Case Scenario: They’re cold for 5 minutes and they hate this guy on the internet name Joel Runyon.
Best Case Scenario: They might get better in some small way that they didn’t know about beforehand.
Impossible doers are willing to try it. They know they don’t know everything so they’re willing to experiment.
They’re people like Rita that thought I was crazy but decided to try it anyways. So she took 30 showers in 30 days. Then she decided enough was enough, decided to take control of things in her life and took 365 cold showers in a row – because she could. Meanwhile she dropped 70 pounds in a year – because she could – because she was in control – because she was okay with doing things that made her uncomfortable.
So if you haven’t taken a cold shower yet – no matter your excuse – whether it’s a crippling addiction to comfort or an attitude of arrogance that tells you that you can’t possibly benefit from it: all all I ask is one thing:
If it’s really not that big of a deal – do me a favor – take five minutes and shut me up.
Be willing to experiment.
5 minutes. 1 cold shower. Try it.