Getting comfortable with poverty and misfortune

For most people, poverty can seem like such an unlikely thing, it feels far beyond the realm of what is plausible in their life. But sadly, no one can predict the future and most people will never imagine that everything they have and own could be so easily lost or taken away from them. Until it actually happened.

Sometimes, you’ll hear people say, “If you told me my life would be like this a year ago, I wouldn’t believe you.” I mean, if someone told you in 2019 what your life would be like in 2020, would you have believed them? Probably not. We all know what happened in 2020 now, so wouldn’t this be a great opportunity to start expanding your definition of what’s plausible and prepare for them?

The stoics have a way of dealing with such things, it’s called voluntary discomfort. The idea is to get yourself comfortable with discomfort. What is it about poverty or misfortune that you fear so much? Well, why not voluntarily experience them and get over your fear, or at least get used to them?

Set aside a number of days where you can practice discomfort. Emulate a life of poverty, try showering with no hot water for example, perhaps spend a day eating only stale bread or try fasting for a day, or try sleeping on the cold hard floor without any blanket or on the streets, and perhaps spend a few days wearing the same old dirty clothes.

Do those things scare you? Well, didn’t you know for most of human history, it’s quite common not to have hot water or a guaranteed food source? This stuff isn’t going to kill you, the homeless have been surviving through this for years and they’re still kicking. You only have to try it for a few days, how hard can it be?

There’s this saying. In times of peace, prepare for war. Because, by the time a war breaks out, the last thing you want is to start preparing your weapons and gathering supplies amidst the confusion.

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