When people start on a self-development journey, they’ll sometimes create a bucket list — all the things, all the typically exciting and pleasurable things, they hope to do before they die. My guest started his own self-improvement journey very differently, by creating an anti-bucket list consisting of things he didn’t want to do, and embarking on a “year of adversity.”
His name is Ben Aldridge and he’s the author of How to Be Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable: 43 Weird & Wonderful Ways to Build a Strong, Resilient Mindset. Ben and I begin our conversation with how his struggle with debilitating panic attacks inspired him to study philosophical and psychological ideas on how to fight back against his anxiety, what he learned that can benefit anyone looking to be more resilient, and how he was particularly inspired by the Stoic idea of intentionally practicing adversity to prepare for adversity. We then talk about the project Ben set for himself of embarking on a year of mental, physical, and skill-based challenges designed to push himself outside his comfort zone, how he decided what kinds of challenges to do, and how doing hard things changed him. From there we get into the specific challenges Ben completed, from taking cold showers to learning Japanese, and what they taught him about self-discipline, facing your fears, and the human potential for growth. We end our conversation with the ways he’s continued to push himself after the year of challenges was through, even in the midst of the pandemic lockdown, including climbing Mt. Everest from inside his house.
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- How Stoic philosophy helped Ben get a handle on his anxiety
- What’s an “anti-bucket list”?
- What Ben took from Buddhism for facing fear and dealing with anxiety
- What spurred the idea for Ben’s Year of Adversity and how he crafted the challenges
- Making discomfort a lifestyle
- Ben’s experience with cold showers and how it helped him manage discomfort
- Why Ben took on the challenge of learning Japanese
- Did Ben take anything from sleeping on the floor or a bivvy bag?
- Tips for improving your public speaking
- Climbing “Mt. Everest” in Ben’s apartment
- Putting more play and fun into the idea of self-improvement
Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast
- The Meaning, Manifestations, and Treatments for Anxiety
- An Introduction to Stoicism
- The Best Books to Read in Uncertain Times
- You May Be Strong . . . But Are You Tough?
- Stillness Is the Key
- Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life
- How to Think Like a Roman Emperor
- A Shot of Cold Water for Health and Vitality
- How Your Climate-Controlled Comfort is Killing You
- Take the TR/JFK 50-Mile Challenge
- The Importance of Developing a Growth Mindset
- Microadventures with Alistair Humphreys
- The Art of Noticing
- An Introduction to Public Speaking
Connect With Ben
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