I take a cold shower every morning.
In truth, I take a regular hot shower for seven to ten minutes. Then I turn the shower as cold as possible for two minutes.
I do this every single day.
Sometimes, when I’m having a bad day, I take two cold showers.
Not wanting to bury the lede here; cold showers suck.
You might be saying, “I’m positive cold showers suck, and Hanley is crazy for taking cold showers every day, but I’m sure you get used to them over time.”
Here is the dirty little secret about cold showers: they always suck.
Turning the water from steamy hot to cold as shit sucks every time.
I have to talk myself into turning the water to cold every damn day.
Every day, my mind screams, “WHAT THE F@#$ ARE YOU THINKING, RYAN?!!!”
And honestly, most days, I hesitate.
I stare at the temperature nozzle and question the decision I’m about to make.
Sensing weakness, my mind applies pressure, “You can miss one day? What is one day? No one will know. It’s just one day.”
I start to negotiate with myself, “Of course, no one will know. One day is no big deal. Everyone takes a day off now and then.”
“I will know.”
Because I am the only one that has to live with the shame of allowing my mind to win.
Then the rage comes.
“You chicken shit. Every day is day one. Be a man and take your medicine. The water is cold, and that cold is the catalyst for a bum rush of endorphins and serotonin that will provide energy, strength, and mental focus for the rest of your day.”
And that is when I hit play on some gangster rap and crank the temperature dial to ICE F@#$ING COLD.
Side Note: I listen to the same song for every cold shower, “Lost Arts” by Marlowe. This is my point of no return. When I hit play on this song it’s my signal to The Resistence that fun time is over…
Share your cold shower song in the comments below…
There are tremendous health benefits to taking a two-minute cold shower every day.
The health benefits aren’t the point.
As David Goggins writes in his epic book, Can’t Hurt Me, the point is to “Callus my mind.”
My mind is weak. It seeks comfort and mediocrity. My mind, in all circumstances, prefers safety, comfort, and ease.
Cold showers are a daily bitch slap for my mind.
WHY DO I TAKE COLD SHOWERS?
There are two reasons I decided to start taking cold showers (over five years ago now).
First, work demands consistent high performance. Second, health-wise, I want to be active and engaged with my kids.
These two things take energy; they take attention, and they take mental focus. I want to be present in the moment.
If you’re tired, achy, sore, or have foggy brain, you can’t be present; you can’t be your best.
Whether playing catch with my kids, banging out a piece of content, crushing a speaking gig, or working through a strategy problem at Rogue Risk; I can’t be at my best if my body and mind aren’t in their peak state.
For this reason, I’m always looking for things that help me get an advantage.
Health is a competitive advantage.
Taking cold showers is one component of an overall philosophy and lifestyle of reaching peak performance.
Before I began taking cold showers, I wasn’t waking up with energy. It took me a while to get going. I hate being sluggish.
In particular, my brain wasn’t firing. It was slow and foggy.
Cold showers get your brain going fast (they are also a decent hangover cure).
Second, the neurochemicals released in response to your body temperature dropping rapidly help to reduce inflammation.
These chemicals (specifically endorphins, serotonin, and adrenaline) reduce stress-related toxins. Unfortunately, stress is a big part of my life, and I want to make sure that I reduce that stress as often and as much as possible.
And if being cold for two minutes once a day is what it takes to help reduce that, LFG…
WHERE I PICKED UP COLD SHOWERS
The guy that turned me on to cold showers was Aubrey Marcus, the founder of Onnit, and author of the excellent peak performance book, Own the Day, Own Your Life (which I highly recommend).
Marcus’s book has lots of tips and tricks, little body hacks, and mind hacks to help you get to peak performance. Some of the stuff I do and others I don’t.
You don’t need to take every life hack to improve your health and mental clarity drastically.
The cold showers have stuck.
The cold shower methodology that Aubrey Marcus advocates is a spinoff of the Wim Hof method.
Wim Hof holds the world record for being submerged in ice for almost two hours without his core body temperature changing.
According to Wim Hof, anyone can achieve similar results using his method: a combination of cold immersion, breathing techniques, and mental focus.
The breathing technique is simple, 30 breaths, a big, deep inhale, and then you let your body exhale the air. You do that 30 times. Then you hold your breath, exhale it, and get into the shower.
Now what Audrey Marcus recommends is you can take a full cold shower. I think that is particularly bananas.
Although Pat Macellaro, former president of Encompass Insurance, used to bust my chops because he was doing full cold showers for almost a year after I started talking about them.
I still haven’t done one full cold shower…
You’re still cooking in my kitchen, Pat.
Every day is day one.
Do you skip practice on day one?
Do you eat that candy bar on day one?
Do you not make cold calls on day one?
Do you not hit your pull-up goal on day one?
Then why the hell would you get to take today off?
But your mind, that sneaky son-of-a-bitch, who knows you better than you know yourself, will give every reason why you should quit.
The only thing you can do is fight back.
Beat the crap out of your mind as often as possible.
Cold showers are a good start.
Yours in insurance,
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