Derek Sivers

Back and forth between super-hot and super-cold


The most relaxed feeling I know is after going back and forth between a super-hot pool and super-cold pool.

Stay in the super-hot pool until you can’t stand it. Then go in a super-cold pool until you can’t stand it. Repeat that a few times, and you’ve never felt so relaxed.

Today I went to the Löyly sauna in Helsinki, Finland. I stayed in the super-hot sauna room until I couldn’t stand it. Then I’d jump in the icy ocean until I couldn’t stand it. I went back and forth like this for almost two hours. It’s so wonderful.

There was also a medium-hot sauna room. I tried that for a while, but it just felt “eh” — neither here nor there — not as fulfilling or relaxing as the extremes.

I like trying different ways to approach life.

I’ll maximize my input for a while — say yes to everything, meet everyone, go everywhere. Then I’ll maximize my output for a while — say no to everything, and just focus on my work.

I’ll do the domestic life for a while — with a house, car, dog, furniture, stocked kitchen, and stuff. Then I’ll give it all away, until I’m back to the one suitcase of the things I really need.

And yes, I tend to do each one until it feels like I can’t stand it anymore.

It’s fun to push the boundaries — to explore the edges — to see what I can do. I’ve never been interested in pursuing a normal life. There are enough people doing that. More growth and discovery seems to happen when I’m uncomfortable.

Some people think it’s strange, and ask why I feel the need to be so all-or-nothing. They ask why I don’t just find the middle ground. (Neither here nor there.)

But there’s something more fun and fulfilling about experiencing the more interesting extremes. Knowing I can live in these different scenarios is ultimately more relaxing.