As Intense As You Can

A big inspiration for me is my friend Ben. You look at him and you always see him doing interesting things: Learning new languages, acquiring craft skills, joking with strangers, working weird jobs, you name it. And you can see how he profits from it.

Don’t get me wrong here. Ben is a very laid-back person. He doesn’t stress out. But still you can see how he’s getting better at stuff. For me, that certainly entails a notion of interestingness.

Once I asked him how he manages to do it. He told me this:

“No matter what I do, I always do it as intense as I can.”

Now wait: I know this sounds abhorrent.


You think of the guy you met at that cocktail party yesterday. He got pretty intense. What a sucker…

But wait.

That’s not what this is about.

I really think that Ben has a point.

We all wish for life to be comfortable. And often enough, it is. But if becomes too comfortable, it can get boring: Things get stale. We don’t learn anything new anymore. We get covered in dust because we’re not moving away from the sofa anymore.

This is a moment when it pays off to consciously make things a little harder for yourself.

Fun, The Hard Way?

How do you do stuff “as intense as you can”?

I’m certainly not the inventor of the concept, but to me it looks something like this:

You’re afraid to drive on icy roads? Doesn’t have to stay like that.

Just free up some time when road conditions are bad, take out your car, and go for a ride. Drive very slowly, without any pressure. Go somewhere where there isn’t any traffic, like an empty parking lot. Then start playing: Slide around a bit. Do a handbrake turn. See how your tires and brakes behave on the ice. Learn what they can cope with. Learn where they fail. Go to that point, and then go a tiny bit further. You’re in a safe environment, after all. What’s the worst that could happen? Try to experience how it feels to lose control – and what you can do to get it back.

There’s one obvious benefit to doing this: The next time you have to drive on icy roads, you’ll be prepared. But there are  two other benefits that might be less obvious: Learning things the hard way – but in a playful manner – is a lot of fun. It also builds confidence.

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