Cold showers are a hello world for being determined.


I have been practicing Wim Hof Method for years. It is a spiritual path of sorts.

There is this thing where you embrace being an animal, and animals are really hardcore man. Human animals plan, think and discover how to world works. The brain is the control hub of our inner physiology also. Getting in touch with your physiology is not mystical, and not reserved for a certain kind of person either. It is using the paths in your brain that evolved to do just that. 1

To close the loop: The inner physiology is another part of the world. With its mechanics, story and places that can be discovered - and mastered to various degrees. Such is the human way, you are the animal

  • uses thought
  • likes stories
  • makes sense of objects etc in the world

Where can you start? With the things you already have control over. Hence breathing techniques, stretching and cold exposure. Emphasize the in-breath over the out-breath and you are pumping adrenaline. The other way around and you get more relaxed. Cold exposure pumps dopamine, with a long arc. 2 It makes the whole day awesome. A cold shower is already an achievement that sets you up for performance. Wim has mentioned somewhere on the free part of his app something about self-determination and having "the cold as a teacher". An upsight clicked clicked in me that will try to share here.

One way to learn is to learn on a playground

There is a reason we make hello world programs. We learn in the small what is similar for the large.

Say Wim Hof is right and self-determination is a mental thing I can grab How do I learn to do so? Also importantly, how do you even know you are doing it? Enter cold showers ("The cold is our teacher"). It is hard to kill yourself with a cold shower, yet it takes mental energy to go into one and to stay. It gives you a chance to be determined in a small, controlled, safe environment. You manage to endure a wall of physical discomfort, you are doing it. This is what determination is.

just do it

In the lore of Wim-hoffing, you keep a calm mind and observe yourself being able to do it.

You are deploying the mental capacities that you might call determination.

The cold shower is the playground that allows you to see how it is to be determined. You observe the mentality, the mechanics, the feel, the drive, the just doing it. What you are when you are being determined. This then, shows you how to be determined elsewhere. The cold is not an end goal, it is a simple, easy playground where we can test how it is to be determined. This also means we have a benchmark for whether we are deploying determination, or not.

To learn something you need some way of telling whether you are doing it right.

I connect this to an experience I had while I was learning to juggle. There was a moment when I was doing 1 or 2 balls when I realized: here is a limit, a place where I can invest in training and I will get better and build a foundation and eventually be able to juggle. (I was right).

The only place where you can grow is at the edge.


Professor Huberman is since recently one of the great science communicators of our time. About physiology, neuroscience and (my words) frankly, the human soul.

Transcript from a recent Q&A event (you can find it on the Huberman lab podcast feed):

If you want to get the most out of the cold exposure then you want to get to that point of "I want to get out of here, but I know I can stay in safely, but I really want to get out of here".

It's a little hard to explain, but there is just so much learning in those short moments about where your mind goes. And this sounds subjective and maybe a little whishy-washy. You can realize great things about yourself in those moments. You can find insight in those moments.

I agree. I call this learning how to be determined.

The practice

I can recommend the Wim hof app to get started. There is a diary thing where you start with 10-second cold showers after a warm shower etc.

Tip: if you have a dispatchable shower head, put it in your hand and move it around. Cold exposure is all about control. If you have the shower head in your hand, you gain control.



One way to describe this is by having a set of inside jokes with the physiology driving parts of your brain. Using your own style.


Andrew Huberman has in recent times communicated beautifully about the the current science of cold exposure, breathing technique and stretching.

Date: 2022-11-15 Tue 19:20

Email: Benjamin.Schwerdtner@gmail.com