The Swinging Pendulum
We are constantly told to strive for balance in our lives, but what if I told you that balance is overrated and instead of seeking balance, we should be intentionally seeking imbalance? This concept is known as "antifragility," which suggests that humans flourish when things are chaotic and unpredictable. Let's discuss why this could benefit us and how we can apply it to our own lives.
In November, I was working hard and got sick. This made me think of a conversation I had with productivity legend Thomas Frank (listen here) about how instead of seeking balance, sometimes it's worth intentionally seeking imbalance. When we're productive, we're usually doing things that are important to us, but we're also usually doing things that are challenging. And when we're challenged, we often feel stressed. But stress isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact, some research has shown that a moderate amount of stress can actually be good for us. It can help to improve our focus and motivation and can even lead to better physical health. So, instead of trying to achieve perfect balance in our lives, perhaps we should seek to create a healthy imbalance. We should aim to spend more time on the things that are important to us and challenge us, even if it means sacrificing some of our other commitments. By doing so, we might just find that we're more productive – and happier – as a result.
Why Balance Is Overrated
Nassim Taleb talks about the concept of being antifragile - humans as a system benefit and grow from not being stagnant. According to Taleb, humans have evolved to be antifragile animals because we benefit from stressors and challenges. When we are exposed to new experiences and problems, we learn and grow from them. This allows us to adapt to our environment and become better equipped to deal with future challenges. In contrast, if we stay in our comfort zone and never experience any difficulties, we will become weaker and more vulnerable. Our skills and knowledge will atrophy, and we will be ill-prepared for anything life throws at us. Therefore, it is essential that we embrace difficulties and challenges instead of avoiding them. Only by doing so can we hope to remain antifragile and continue to thrive as a species.
The human body is designed to adapt to stress. When we exert ourselves physically or mentally, we create tiny tears in our muscles or neural pathways. In response, our bodies repair the damage and become stronger than before. This process is known as 'hormesis,' and it's the reason why we get stronger with exercise and smarter with learning. However, in order for hormesis to occur, we need to allow our bodies adequate time to recover. That means getting plenty of rest and coming back from setbacks stronger than ever before.
In conclusion, balance is overrated - antifragility suggests that humans thrive when things are chaotic and unpredictable. Embrace change, try new things, and push your boundaries a little bit each day - your body and mind will thank you for it. Take breaks from your routine and embrace chaos - it can help us to become stronger and more resilient. With age and experience comes wisdom, so be mindful of maintaining a healthy lifestyle with adequate rest periods, and use the chaos to your advantage. Take care of yourself, push yourself a little further than you think you can go, and you'll find you're better prepared for anything life throws your way.
Without a doubt, we live in a culture that values productivity and achievement above all else. From an early age, we're taught that hard work is the key to success, and that taking breaks is for slackers. As a result, many of us never allow ourselves to fully relax and rejuvenate. We push ourselves to the brink of exhaustion, and then collapse into bed at night only to wake up the next morning and do it all over again.
However, recent research has shown that this approach is not only unsustainable, but also counterproductive. Our bodies and minds are not designed to operate at full capacity all the time - we need periods of high load to challenge and improve ourselves, but we also need quality rest and recovery time in order to function our best. When we allow ourselves the opportunity to fully relax, we not only improve our physical health, but also our mental well-being. We become more creative, more productive, and more resilient in the face of adversity. So next time you're feeling overwhelmed, take a step back and give yourself permission to relax. Your body (and your mind) will thank you for it.
How Can We Apply Antifragility?
The first step to applying antifragility is to let the pendulum swing far enough in the other direction. We need periods of high load to challenge us, but we also need quality rest and recovery time to allow our bodies and minds to rejuvenate. Don’t be afraid to take a break and relax.
The second step is not being afraid of trying new things. When we’re constantly doing the same things, our body and mind never get a chance to grow. Branch out and try activities or hobbies that you may have never considered before - you might surprise yourself!
Lastly, embrace chaos. The world is an unpredictable place so don’t try to fight it; instead, accept it. Change can help us thrive - it gives us the opportunity to learn something new or gain valuable experience that will help us later on in life
In conclusion, sometimes balance is overrated - antifragility suggests that humans thrive when things are chaotic and unpredictable, so don't be afraid of embracing change or trying new things! Embrace chaos and let the pendulum swing far enough in the other direction - your body and mind will thank you for it! Taking breaks from your routine will give you more energy and enthusiasm for what comes next. And who knows? You might even discover something about yourself that you didn't know before! As long as we stay mindful of maintaining a healthy lifestyle with adequate rest periods, embracing chaos can be highly beneficial for both our mental and physical health.
Humans as a system benefit and grow from not being stagnant.
You want periods of high load which will stretch your body and mind, allowing you to grow.
Many of us also suffer from never allowing the pendulum to swing far enough in the other direction.
The mistake is not realising that the quality of your rest and recovery will determine the extent to which you can stretch yourself when needed.
Get comfortable with the switch, and lean into each swing.
War time then peace time. Guerilla mode then sage mode.
Smooth the pendulum, don't run from it.