When you think of challenging yourself, do you think of big stuff like losing 70 pounds or scaling Everest? That’s great, but this is more important. This penetrates into every area of your life.

You are mistaken and ignorant about so many things and don’t even know it. Don’t be offended by that – everyone is mistaken and ignorant. And it is great news! Knowing this, we can challenge our assumptions, daily activities, and knowledge to improve our lives!

Let The Challenging Begin

Ask yourself why you’re only eating X types of meals and foods. Do you know how much food variety exists out there? Me neither, but you might not know your favorite food because you haven’t tried it. I did not even discover my current favorite food until a couple of years ago – Thai curry.

Have you tried playing backgammon? You might love it. Are you sure you’re brushing your teeth the right way? Why do you tie your shoes like that? For a long time, I had assumed the standard shoe knot was the best all-around method. I was wrong – this method is easy to tie/untie and is 3x as strong as the standard knot.

This may seem frivolous, but it quickly elevates to something amazing. New horizons and possibilities emerge like butterflies from a manhole (oops, terrible simile). The more curious you are, the more things there will be to be curious about.

Think of it this way – in order to look down 3rd street, you have to pass by 2nd or 4th street first. If you’re only hanging out at 1st because 2nd seems boring, you’ll never find out that 3rd is TWICE as good as 1st and that 7th is everything you could hope for.

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As I’ve been challenging myself more and more frequently over the past couple months, I’ve noticed that it is tricky because of how accustomed I am to not doing it. You’re reading this article right now – did you ask yourself if you should continue reading or do something else? No! Don’t go! Bad example.

If you’re shopping in the grocery store, challenge your selection of grocery products – type of food, price, quantity, etc. Maybe you always buy the cheapest, healthiest, a certain brand, or whatever is on sale. In any case, you can challenge your current criteria and selections.

If you always buy the cheapest tag or what’s on sale, have you considered looking at the cost per ounce instead of the price tag to truly find the least expensive product? A 5 oz. jar of olives for $1.99 is more expensive than a 6 oz. jar of olives at $2.15.

It seems tedious to do this, but if it means you’re eating better quality food at a better price for the rest of your life, isn’t it worth it? Quinoa is one of my favorite foods. Have you tried it? It is easy to prepare and possibly the most nutritious grain on the planet – and delicious.

Bread Blunders

I’m a health nut, and I just recently challenged my bread buying habits. I had grouped various brands into the same category. The challenge was – Are these breads really equal? They were all marketed in a very similar way.

I found that the Nature’s Own bread claims these qualities– no high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, or preservatives. Great! Except that I happened to see some other ingredients in the bread that I didn’t like so much (they are in bold)…

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Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Brown Sugar, Yeast, Wheat Gluten, Contains 2% or Less of each of the Following: Salt, Vegetable Oil (Soybean Oil or Canola Oil), Dough Conditioners (Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Calcium Stearoyl-2-Lactylate, Monoglycerides, Calcium Iodate, Ethoxylated Mono and Diglycerides, Calcium Peroxide, Datem), Cultured Wheat Flour, Vinegar, Calcium Sulfate, Monocalcium Phosphate, Yeast Food (Ammonium Sulfate), Soy Lecithin.

And wow! I just checked and found out that the bread (Arnold) I ended up buying has worse ingredients (oops). On Arnold’s website, they say that some ingredients are derived from genetically modified foods. Shoot. Genetically modified foods are frowned upon by health nuts like myself.

So if you’re looking for good whole wheat bread, be careful about Arnold and Nature’s Own – they are better at marketing than making bread. I’d recommend the Pepperidge Farm 100% natural wheat bread if you’re getting bread from a grocery store. Of course organic or homemade bread are best, but they are more expensive and more work, respectively.

Challenging yourself daily, no…many times per day, is a very healthy habit. I’m challenging my decision to write instead of eat right now – and I’m off to eat. The yogurt was great – I added cereal to it. Have you tried that? It’s good! I’m using food as an example here because everyone can relate to it.

A Personal Example

On my website, I had to have a white background because my text/pictures had white boxes around them. I challenged that and found out how to make the boxes transparent. Now I can use any color I want.

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I had ruled out black as a background because it wouldn’t go well with my foreground color choices. I challenged that and just tried it out. Surprisingly, I loved it and it is my current header background. My favorite background color was the one color that I had ruled out before. Another thing – this is 3rd street – it would not have happened if I didn’t initially challenge the decision to stay on 1st street with the white background.

One more reason that challenging yourself is so important is that things change SO fast in today’s world. Say you loved Microsoft because of Windows 2000. Months later, they released Windows ME (dubbed “Mistake Edition”). Don’t rely on the past.

In the shoe knot example, the better knot was probably invented later. The inferior method is taught now because it is so engrained in society that it continues to be passed down as the way to tie shoes. My kids are going to have the most secure shoelaces in school (if they go to school. Oh yeah, I challenge everything). Ian’s secure shoelace knot never comes out.

In the above paragraph, did you think I spelled “engrained” wrong? I thought I may have, too. It is simply the less used, but still correct spelling of the word – ingrained and engrained are interchangeable. I challenged myself there and learned something.

Challenge yourself! You’re the best one for the job.


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