So I’ve been in Mallorca for four weeks now, and you’ll be pleased to know I’m feeling right at home. Sure the first day or two was a bit of a whirlwind, but I’ve totally settled in. Different climate, different weather, different languages, different people, food, cultures, social norms, working hours, responsibilities, hobbies, opportunities… My life here is very different to my life back home. I took a week or so to get my bearings and on my second week I got down to business and signed up to a gym. And the gym is fine, you know? It’s nothing fancy, but it does the job. It has most of the things I need and it’s close to my home and it’s FINE. But it’s different. It doesn’t have everything I would normally use and therefore I’ve had to really change my program and my style of training.
As I was stretching off the other day, I realised the importance of these kind of situations. You see, I didn’t take a look at the gym and think “well damn, there’s no squat rack so what’s the point”. No. I walked in and assessed the situation. What do we have here, and what can we do with it? How can I use the tools I have been given with my creativity to think up some good workouts?
And that right there, that ability to adapt to new environments and new situations, is one of the strongest skills you will ever have. And you already have it. This isn’t something you’ve got to learn: it’s innate. It’s built into you. It’s already there. It’s just hiding behind the machines and devices we’ve built ourselves to make our lives easier and handle our problems for us.
Let me explain.
Human beings have been adapting for a long, long time. *GEOGRAPHY LESSON*. After we emerged out of Africa and spread into Europe, and spent an extended period of time being exposed to various new climates, we changed physiologically. You see, when we migrated to these other climates, we got smart. We built, we invented, we created: making things which allowed us to sustain life and to survive. We were able to occupy areas of extreme cold and heat for thousands of years by creating micro-climates, by using clothes and buildings and fire to sustain life in colder environments and selectively using clothing and inventions to cool us to allow us to thrive in hot climates. And that’s the power and the beauty of human beings. Not only do we have the intellect to create and invent, but we have the desire. We have the passion for life and for survival, and this combined with our intelligence is what makes us the most powerful creature on this planet. We are the unopposed, ruling species on the Earth. We are yet to encounter a species that poses a true threat to us. Sure man alone is tiny and weak in the face of most animals, but through our intelligence and ability to create, we became dominant. We can climb, run, dig, swim. We can make tools from nature to build weapons and shelter, proving that we are adaptable enough to not only survive, but to thrive in all environments.
But I get the feeling that we forget this, or maybe we don’t realise it. Ask yourself – if your body can go from living in sub-zero temperatures to hot, humid climates, or from eating meat 7x a week to becoming a pure plant-based vegan, and still function PERFECTLY, what can’t it adapt to? Aside from terrorist attacks or another Big Bang, what could possibly pose a real problem or threat to us?
We are a species who created aeroplanes and boats and rocket ships; who have travelled the seas and the skies and outer space; who walked on the moon and inhabited the most uninhabitable parts of our Earth. We have been exploring and adapting since time began. So why do so many of us panic at the slightest change or unforeseen outcome? Why do so many of us get comfortable? Our ancestors’ ability to adapt is what allowed us to survive, and in a world that’s changing and progressing at a frightening speed, it is perhaps more important now than ever that we are able to adapt. And not just thermally. I mean physically, mentally, emotionally. You need to be able to adjust to change, to surprise, to the unexpected. You need to be able to get over things. You need the ability to say “okay… that didn’t go to plan, so what do we do now?” And that goes for everything. You make a gym plan and you get to the gym and every machine you were planning on using is taken. So you don’t storm out in a rage and go home. You get creative, you think up something else. You arrive in Shanghai airport and your luggage didn’t arrive with you. You don’t go home. You don’t cry. You deal with it.
But so often we underestimate our ability to adapt and cope and I think the problem is, we all got too comfortable. We’ve got too used to a world where things are easy and we can get what we want at the push of a button from our mobile phones. But there’s some things life will throw at you that even Siri can’t answer. And in times like that, do not ever forget that you are a human being. On days when you struggle, remember what people have done: what we as a race have done and will continue to do. We have walked on the moon, found cures for diseases, retaught our bodies to walk or speak or move after being paralysed from the neck down… and you’re really going to get in a strop because somebody’s using the squat rack when you’d planned to do squats today? Get over it. Grab a dumbbell, do something different. Get creative. ADAPT.
It’s what you were born to do.
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