Why I Invite Micro-Dose Suffering Into My Life

Lately I have been thinking a lot about excess.  Excess is defined as, “An amount of something that is more than necessary, permitted, or desirable.”

Comparing North Americn culture to other cultures, it’s quite staggering where we stand in terms of excess and waste.

It is no secret that North America is known for its size — the size of the US military, of our servings, of our people, of our cities. Everything.

We’re a society obsessed with gargantuan behavior.  

This is our normal life. We are creatures of adaptability, so if everything is large then large becomes normal.

But when you see the way other cultures live, looking back at our behavior is like a shock of cold water to the face.

We think the way we live is normal. I suppose it is normal, but if everyone is overweight then the person who treats his body with decency becomes the outlier.

Some people are hardly able to move. Walking down the street in most American cities means you will see people in motorized wheelchairs simply because they are overweight.

When visiting other cultures you will be hard pressed to find any overweight people. It’s not something I noticed until I travelled abroad but really sank in when I returned.

I don’t know the cause of this, but I believe excess makes us weak and that there is strength in hunger.  

Excess creates reliance. Reliance on food. Reliance on comfort. A lack of things — be it food, clothing, shelter, or heat creates will and discipline. Instead of gorging whenever you want you must control yourself in the face of a desire to eat the remaining days’ food before 7 am. 

How many people do you know that would be willing to do a 24-hour fast on a moment’s notice?

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Our current culture makes us reliant. In the face of this, I believe it’s fundamentally important to introduce suffering into our lives.

Suffering does not have to be mean grieving, coming from a rough childhood, or even a sadists’ form of suffering. Suffering can be tame and you can micro-dose suffering on an everyday practical level.  

Micro-dosing is known for its use in medical practice, where one takes a minimal amount of a substance. Here’s how Wikipedia defines Micro-Dosing:

“Microdosing (or micro-dosing) is a technique for studying the behaviour of drugs in humans through the administration of doses so low (“sub-therapeutic”) they are unlikely to produce whole-body effects, but high enough to allow the cellular response to be studied.”

Given Wikipedia’s definition of Micro-Dosing, let’s define what Micro-Dose Suffering is. I define it as taking small actions that are not pleasurable to perform and cause a low level of suffering but are incremental compared to major life events that may cause massive suffering.

An example is taking a cold shower compared to going through the major suffering of a divorce or death in the family.

Micro-dose suffering is something I have started doing recently.  

There is no other way to say it: You and I live privileged lives

We’re able to access the Internet. That alone is enough to make us 1-percenters on this planet, but we have have many other things going for us such as food, shelter, clean water, plumbing, and hopefully some cash in our pockets.

It is really important to realize this, otherwise we can forget everything we have. Remember, humans are creatures of adaptability. We adapt to our situation, whether positive or negative. In the face of negativity we will adapt and when everything is going our way, we too will adapt.

I micro-dose suffering so I can appreciate what I have. I first recognized this when I was eating little and sleeping in my care while driving cross-country on a 3-month road trip. 

Food was decadent and a bed was cloud nine. It was a micro-dose of suffering and I adapted.Gratitude

I do this now by fasting occasionally and doing workouts that are designed to mentally challenge myself.  

These are small things we can do to practice gratitude but we also need larger things to help us get a greater perspective of where we stand.

Visit people who live on a dollar a day. Then when you come back to North America, order a small drink and look at the size of it.  

It should be called the smallest large.  

I enjoy suffering in the most non-sadistic way possible. I enjoy suffering because it highlights my privilege.  I am blessed to be in the position I am in life and I don’t want to forget that. Any aspect of it.

If you live in North America you’ll be hard pressed to escape excess. It surrounds us, but I challenge you to recognize that it surrounds us and to take action on it. It doesn’t have to be a large action.

Do something small like skipping dessert. Dessert is supposed to be a special occasion, not the third course.  

Get up before dawn and go for a run.

Take a cold shower.

All of these things will help you appreciate the abundance we have here in North America.

But it requires discipline to act. It is not easy. I commend you if you take action on one item listed above at any point in time. Routines are hard to break, but the beauty of routine is that if you establish the correct ones they become even more powerful.  

Take the first step in breaking a bad routine by acknowledging one thing you will do — taking a cold shower for example. Establish that you will do it once. That’s all. No more.

Then pick an exact time that you will take action and write it down. “I will take a cold shower tonight after my workout.” Then at night, turn on the shower as you are used to it, presumably in the range of warm to hot, then over the course of the shower lower the temperature until by the end it is just cold water.

(Pro-Tip: Remember to breathe deep, this helps deal with the cold).

Congratulations! If you went through this exercise you deserve to feel incredible. You expanded your comfort zone and won the day. I’ll bet your next warm shower will be beautiful.

Excess is everywhere and it is in our best interest to recognize it, because if you indulge you are only affecting yourself and if you choose to not indulge you are only affecting yourself. It reminds me of a quote from Henry Ford, “The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can’t are both right. Which one are you?”

It is of the utmost importance to keep your body and mind sharp and to get rid of the excess.

Indulge if you like. I certainly do from time to time, but remember, the world continues to turn regardless of how much you weigh. Indulge or don’t indulge. Either way, you’re the one who will reap the consequences.

Personally I choose to take care of myself, which I guess makes me a minority.

I would love to hear what your thoughts are regarding this topic, if this impacted you at all or if you have any questions or comments. Seriously, I would love to hear from you.

Luke dropped out of college at 19 and traveled the country for 3 months doing research on secondary education.

Luke_Harris-Galahue_HeadshotDuring that time he interviewed over 100 people including professors from Harvard, MIT, Yale, CEO’s of 7 figure businesses and students across the nation.

Luke was the 7th employee at Hurdlr.com where he now does Marketing.

You can usually find him doing Jiu Jitsu or Crossfit, listening to Hip-Hop or Taylor Swift, and growing a company.

Connect with Luke on Facebook or LinkedIn

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