As I’ve mentioned sporadically for over a decade, I have a cold shower every morning. Not only is it good for mental health, but it’s a way of adding a small bit of suffering into my life.
That might sound like an odd thing to do, but study after study shows that it’s the difference between our experiences that provide pleasure or pain. Humans can adapt to anything, and I believe my days are better by starting them off with a small amount of suffering.
This post riffs on that idea, and as someone who’s no stranger to wild camping in the snow, I can definitely attest to daily cold showers being more effective than one-off trips for building resilience!
I suspect that small sufferings spread out across time are more helpful; that, for example, a 10 minute cold shower each day would make me feel more total gratitude for my cozy life than a one-week cold camping trip once per year – life is long and memory is short, so the cold trip would probably fade from memory after a week or two. But it’s strangely hard to force myself to suffer, even if it’s for my own good.
Source: Optimal Suffering