Strenuous Life

I keep a daily reminder to myself to live life strenuously because for me it is the most satisfying way to live.

I was exposed to this idea by reading Teddy Roosevelt’s speech on this topic, and the idea has come back into my daily thoughts about once every 1-2 months over the last 5+ years. It struck a deep chord. I have only recently fleshed out what it means to me in more detail.

To me it means:

Embrace discomfort. Plan big, uncomfortable events. Run a marathon, learn a difficult skill, go on a big trip. Always live outside the comfort zone.

Maximize the number of uncomfortable, impactful actions each day. Embrace the discomfort of each and every small step along the way to reaching larger milestones. If I’m doing something and I feel like it is easy or I feel comfortable, that’s a red flag.

Push myself beyond my limits every day. Maximize the speed and delivery of discomfort by eliminating hesitation. Always have the pedal to the metal.

Not a day goes by when I don’t fall into bed feeling totally spent[1]. One of the most joyful feelings is when, at the end of the day, I’m so exhausted that I feel like I can’t think another thought. On days like that, I know I grew a lot.

For me, the strenuous life is not restricting but liberating. I feel like my personal and professional growth is maximized by living this way–squeezing every drop out of my life. After a while, embracing discomfort became comfortable and I started to feel uncomfortable with comfort.

[1] To clarify, I place very high emphasis on sleep. I’m very protective of my sleeping time and rarely sleep less than 8 hours. Sleep deprivation for even just 1 day makes my effectiveness and efficiency go way down in most areas. I think that living strenuously actually improves sleep quality because when I go to bed I’m actually really tired, fall asleep almost instantly, and sleep soundly all night.