Do the Hard Things

Do the Hard Things

Lately I have been faced with a choice; take the easy path or the challenging path in a few key areas of my life. Sometimes growth comes through strenuous times.

Grit And Green Tea

Green tea in a white, handle-less cup next to a matching white kyusu teapot.

I signed up to do a line dance type of routine with several other people for a dance showcase. What was I thinking? I happen to be very uncoordinated, and I am challenged rhythmically. I want to keep the dancing experience a fun, light hearted, and happy time. It would have been easier and less stressful to bypass this opportunity. But where is the joy and personal growth in skipping out on this chance to stretch, push, and challenge myself?

Eleanor Rosevelt was credited as explaining “Women are like teabags. You never know how strong they are until you put them in hot water.” While learning a dance routine, how to hang glide or scuba dive may not be a negative stress, chances are the activities are out of the ordinary for most people, myself included. I am full of grit and determination to learn the dance routine. I also need a clear and focused mind and a bit of energy. I have found that a cup of green tea is just what I need to learn a dance routine that is hard, and doesn’t come naturally to me.

Green tea, along with black, Oolong, white and Pu Erh tea, has a chemical in it that is called L-theanine. This chemical was quantified and named in 1949 by Japanese scientists. L-theanine is an amino acid that may promote a calm alertness by perhaps increasing the alpha brain waves while imbibing in a cup of tea.
Caffeine can be found in all teas made with Camellia Sinensis teas. It is a stimulant to the body. The amount of caffeine in tea can be one third to one half the amount found in a cup of coffee. A cup of tea does not give me jitters and the shakes like a mega dose of caffeine from other beverage choices. Maybe it is the combination of L- theanine and the caffeine that gives me a gentle nudge of alertness, energy and a centering calmness simultaneously. Just what I need to help me through a demanding dance routine.


Students practicing a dance routine in a studio

Go ahead and do those challenging and complicated things. Learning a new task, or activity might be beneficial for the brain as well as fun for you. The brain has the ability to form additional neuron pathways when we are learning a new task, skill, or hobby. Electrical impulses travel faster across these new pathways, stimulating the brain. Neurons are stimulated when we learn something new. Our brain is a muscle and needs stimulation, and challenge. Mental exercising or mental gymnastics occurs in our brain when we change things up a bit with practicing and perfecting novel activities. Possible benefits to exercising the brain can include improved attention to detail and memory recall. There might even be improved problem solving, and possibly increased concentration. We only have one brain and the adage “use it or lose it” may be correct in this instance. Using our brain to master a new task, skill, or interest may just be one of the keys to keeping the brain performing as optimally as it can.


Professional dancers in an outdoor performance

It seems to me that there could be a benefit to learning a new dance routine after all. Coupled with my love of green tea, maybe my brain, along with the rest of my body is reaping the benefits of attempting to be coordinated and rhythmic while learning to stay in line with the rest of the dance partners. I have to remind myself that there is much to gain by learning a new skill that frustrates me yet makes me laugh at myself, all at the same time.

“Life must be lived and curiosity kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

Attempt the hard stuff, you may be successful, and it could benefit you,


Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. I am not dispensing medical advice. I am reporting what works for me, given my passion for drinking tea. Please consult a physician for medical synopsis, diagnosis, and treatment of any ailments. Thanks.


Breus M.D., Michael, J. “What You Need to Know About L-theanine.” Psychology Today, 2017.

“Train Your Brain.” Harvard Health Publishing - Harvard MedicalSchool, February 15, 2021.

“Learning New Things - The Benefits.” Health Navigator New Zealand.

About The Author

A photo of Leslie on the patio wearing a pink cardiganLeslie Sundberg is a World Tea Academy Certified Tea Specialist, a World Tea Academy Apprentice Tea Sommelier, a Specialty Tea Institute Level IV trained Tea Specialist, and a Tea and Business Etiquette Specialist. On any given day, Leslie can be found teaching, speaking or sharing in the joys of a cup of tea.  No matter what Leslie is doing or where she is, one thing remains constant: 4:00 in the afternoon is tea time!

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