Each and every one of us was born to endure.
We have several physical features that make us ideal endurance athletes like your Achilles tendon, your ability to take multiple breaths per stride and your big brain to strategize with.
These physical features also benefit your mental abilities. The more you endure physically, the smarter you become. In fact, we are the result of thousands of generations of ever increasing brain power due to your ancestors ability to endure and thus pass on their smarter and stronger genes.
So why can’t most of us focus longer than 7 minutes or hit our goals or walk around the block or start a new project or not get distracted on the Internet. The answer is simple: we have lost our inherited endurance.
Why Endurance is Important
Endurance, like it’s partner Resilience, allows us to push through hardship and struggles that our primitive brain throws at us. This primitive or lizard brain, is the part that tells us to fight or flight. It’s extremely good at telling us to stop doing something uncomfortable or scary because way back when, those types of things got us killed.
Nowadays, we live in a relatively safe world but our fight and flight responses are still in hyperdrive and that prevents us from quitting our jobs, speaking in public, finishing a painting, writing a novel, running a marathon or asking for a promotion.
The reason the lizard brain dominates us in modern times is because we lost our endurance. Most of us no longer have to hunt for food, strategize about how to survive a winter, build a house, clear a forrest or even evade a sabertooth tiger.
With the loss of endurance comes the inability to push through all our non-lethal hardships and struggles required to meet our goals.
Our World View Meets Marshmallows
Our lizard brain is a powerful force within us but it can be tamed if we train ourselves to accept what the lizard brain is telling us and counteract it by changing our behavior.
In a revisitation of the classic Marshmallow experiment performed in the 1970’s, researchers wanted to see how conditioning children can help or hurt their ability to endure the temptation of eating a Marshmallow.
The results were astonishing.
When children were conditioned to have different world views related to the reliability of specific rewards, they drastically changed how long they could hold out for more Marshmallows.
The more reliable the World View (e.g. I have art supplies and stickers and I’ll give them to you), the longer they held out. The more unreliable the World View (e.g. I promised art supplies but did not deliver), the shorter the hold out (almost 50% less).
This result confirms that our expectations and delivery on those expectations can drive our ability to endure which gives each and every one of us hope that we can regain and build our endurance.
141 Ways to Get Your Inherited Endurance Back
We all have an inherited level of endurance — we just have to tap back into it. Below are 141 ways to tap into your inherited endurance. Try a few or try them all. The point is that having more endurance will make you more successful and happier.
Just remember — you’re living proof of the endurance of your ancestors!
DISCLAIMER: Some of these ways involve physical movement or exercise. Be smart about doing them, always be safe and consult a professional if you have any doubts. Keep Enduring!
Move at least 20 minutes a day
Practice harder than you play
Breath in and out through your nose.
Publicly commit to a goal
Take a Cold Shower
Turn down the heat during the winter
Do two (2) more push-ups, sit-ups, squats, pull-ups or whatever per set
Walk/Job/Run 7 more minutes than you are used to
Check email only twice a day
Take a class that scares you
Rely on your training. Don’t second guess your abilities before or during an event.
Go to an open mike night and riff about something
Take the stairs instead of the elevator
Take public transit once a week to work no matter how long it takes
Bike or run to work
Embrace the suck and don’t complain.
Turn down the AC when it’s hot outside
See how long you can hold your hand in ice water
Stand on a street corner for 15 minutes and just observe people
Cut out one indulgence for a day/week/month.
Take a multivitamin daily.
Replace soda (even diet) with water
See how long you can stay outside when it’s cold in just shorts and a t-shirt
Eat Vegetarian once a week.
Cut your meal portions in half
Give 95, 96, 97, 98, 99 then 100%.
Join the Polar Bear Club
Run or Bike at midnight
Do a plank until you can’t hold it anymore
Start a workout routine
Realize you have more to give even when at the brink of exhaustion.
Stand in the rain without a jacket or umbrella
Stare at the wall for as long as you can
Walk barefoot in the snow
Do a completely different workout routine than you are used to
Learn a new sport
Learn a language
Learn to dance
Safely sit in the lotus position for as long as you can
Attend a protest
Sleep 1/2/3 night(s) in the woods
Stay up for 24 hours without stimulates
Jump out of bed in the morning
Wake up 15 minutes earlier than normal
Get plenty of sleep but not too much
Rest your body and mind daily.
Workout outside even when it’s cold, rainy, windy or otherwise miserable
Chop a cord of wood
Use a push mower to mow the lawn.
Do 20x more push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups or squats daily than what you can think you can do.
Use a wheelchair for a day
Push on for 7 minutes more the moment you want to quit.
Pick a landmark and just get there. Once there, pick another one.
Walk or slow down if you feel tired but never stop moving.
Start out slow and get faster as things progress
Turn in something that’s 80% completed.
Create and Tend a Garden
Learn to play a musical instrument
Enter a talent contest
Volunteer at an athletic event
Don’t get consumed by failure. Fail and move on
Never be satisfied with your performance
Knock on doors for a political campaign or charity
Workout at lunch three or more times a week
Count to 10,000 backwards then forwards
Join a team sport
Work the graveyard shift
Go on a police/fire/ambulance ride-a-long on the graveyard shift
Pull an all-nighter
Volunteer in a 3rd World Country
Cook at home more than once a week.
Focus on your form by practicing deep
Don’t use electricity for an entire day/week/month.
Learn to swim.
Be blind or deaf for an entire day.
Don’t watch TV or surface the Internet for a day/week/month.
Do multi-night backpacking trip
Build and sleep in a snow cave.
Start a fire without matches
Build a shelter in the woods
Hunt for your own food
Swim 20x more than your best distance
Wear a weight vest for an entire day/week/month.
Wear sandals in the snow
Go rock climbing
Go white water rafting
Hold your breath as long as you can then add 10 more seconds.
Read 10 minutes more than you normally do
Cut out caffeine for an entire day/week/month.
Don’t complain about anything for a day/week/month
Complement every single person you meet for an entire day/week/month
When competing, deny your faults. It will keep you focused on what you can achieve.
Tread water for as long as you can.
Swim 10 seconds more underwater than you normally can.
Build Resilience Daily.
Go on an epic trek
Turn a negative into a positive
Don’t obsess about failure, obsess about success
Practice something every day
Surround yourself with people that support you.
Break the impossible into the possible
Do something positive the minute you wake up.
Figure out the odds of success or failure
Have some quality dirt time weekly.
Never worry about the end — push right past the finish line
Eliminate the negative people in your life
Focus on a single point for 10 minutes
When you hit the fatigue wall, speed up
Don’t be anxious about the start. Be happy.
Learn new ways to do what you already know how to do.
Schedule Rest and Recovery Days to revitalized yourself.
Know your weak spots and work on improving them.
Encourage others around you to succeed
Have fun no matter what
Chat it up with others
Build confidence with the little wins and incremental progress
Shut everyone else out and play your game
Don’t over analyze
Aspire to be someone you respect
Take a brief break to center yourself
Image a happy place when you are stressed out.
The more you do, the better you get
Be open to trying something new to improve your skills
Give yourself credit for what you do well
Feel the anxiety and then let it go
Be better than you were yesterday
Learn to zig and zag around things
Study the masters
Take an Ice Bath
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