Mark White, MEUS Founder
Picture this: watching the clock tick by in a job you strongly dislike. Now picture this: saying a final farewell to a loved one. Both situations last just five minutes, yet one feels like an eternity and one feels like it happened quicker than the blink of an eye. Now imagine each and every day split up into five minute chunks (288 of them to be precise), minus the time we spend asleep that gives us around 188 five minute chunks every single day. How are you spending yours?
Much like James Clear alludes to in Atomic Habits, small actions can have a huge impact. And when we choose to focus on positive actions, there’s no denying that what follows has the ability to cause ripple effects into all areas of our life.
With the men’s mental health crisis we unfortunately seem to be caught in the midst of, it seems like a great time to bring awareness to the things in our life that are and aren’t serving us. How can we reduce the impact that negative actions might be having on our life? And how can we enhance the impact that positive actions are having? And, better yet, how can we take things a step further and incorporate new, exciting things into our lives that will serve our mental and physical health in a positive way?
We don’t have to start by saying we’ll drastically change our lives and uproot everything that we’ve already put in place for ourselves. But the one thing we do have to do…is start. Whether it’s starting a new hobby, integrating a new habit or learning a new skill – the key to real, positive change, is in instigating it in the first place.
Take ice baths, for example. The first time getting in an ice bath can send shockwaves through the body that almost make us want to jump out instantaneously – yet with practice, determination and focus, the initial shock becomes less intense, and the positive effects begin to come into play: reduced inflammation, increased nervous system capabilities, reduced stress, and enhanced mindfulness.
Yet the positive effects aren’t felt without pushing past the first few minutes of pain, discomfort and above all else – fear. And this process doesn’t just apply to ice baths, in fact it can be applied to almost anything. It might be fear that puts us off trying something new, or it could be laziness, a perceived lack of time, or a lack of motivation. But all it takes is that first step. A first step towards trying something new, doing something different, and making a shift in the trajectory of our lives. No matter how small this thing might seem, we must never underestimate the ripple effect it can have on our entire lives.
Whether it’s an ice bath, a marathon, breathwork or wild swimming – none of these things can happen without the first step. The first attempt. The first five minutes.