Monday, September 26, 2011

Choose Your Pain: Discipline or Regret

Self-discipline involves acting according to what you
think instead of how you feel in the moment.

I lack self-discipline. Many out there share my pain.

There were countless times I intended do something I knew was good for me. Somehow, I gave in to my moods and how I 'felt'. At times, I garnered enough will power to hit the road but halted after a short while.

We all have such experiences. Don't we?

What is Self Discipline?

Self discipline involves acting based on how you think rather than how you feel. It usually comes with some momentary discomfort or pain.

There are many different but similar ways to define 'self-discipline'. The one from Wikipedia defines it as "the ability to motivate oneself in spite of a negative emotional state."

Steve Pavlina attributes the five pillars of self-discipline to "Acceptance, Willpower, Hard Work, Industry, and Persistence." (See 'Self-Discipline' by Steve Pavlina)

Self discipline requires the inner strength to
reject immediate satisfaction.

What is Self Discipline to me?

I look around for ways to 'cure' my lack of discipline. I come across so many suggestions to the point they become rather confusing. I thought I just have to give it my own meaning.

'Self-discipline' is about the mental strength that gets you to do what you need to do. Many call that strength 'will power' but I look at it as 'thinking muscle'. Just like any muscle, you can also build up your 'thinking muscle'.

'Self-discipline' is also about a collection of good habits. These habits get you to do what is good for you. You too can build such habits.

Build up your 'thinking muscle' to overcome the
desire to indulge in unhelpful habits.

Within this simplistic meaning of 'self discipline', I have a few related thoughts:

1) You can choose your behaviors

First and foremost, you have to believe that you have the choice. It is never about what is around you or who is getting in the way. You decide on the set of behaviors you think is helpful to achieve your goals.

For example, when you are confronted by a hostile person, you have the choice of walking away or play 'tit for tat'.

2) Habits can be built

Having decided on your choice behavior, make it a habit.

A habit is a repetitive and unconscious act. For example, if it is your habit to clean up your work desk everyday, you would do it without much struggle with your moods. You would just keep tidying up your desk whenever the need arises and you don't give much thought to it.

On the contrary, if that has not become your habit, you would have to rationalize the need to do it and might constantly find reasons to lower its priority. During this time, your desk stays messy.

You need to take control of the internal world of
yourself before you can take control of the
external world.

3) Do 'exercises' to rid reluctance

When you lack self-discipline, you constantly experience a sense of reluctance which prevents you from doing what you set out to do. You need to strengthen your will power or 'thinking muscle' to rid your reluctance. Some simple exercises can help you achieve that.

The exercises can take place anytime and anywhere. Whenever you are about to take the easy way out, grab that as your chance to practice.

Here are some examples:
  • You are about to buy something on impulse, fight that desire.
  • You are about to put the second sugar cube into your coffee, hold it.
  • You are about to walk away from someone you dislike, say 'Hi' to him.
  • You are about to sit in front of the TV, take a walk.
Such exercises would gradually strengthen your will power. In turn, you get a more disciplined self.

You can exercise your 'thinking muscle'
anytime, anywhere.

Putting it into practice

I write regularly and I enjoy organizing my thoughts in words. However, there were times I experienced great reluctance to write because I 'felt' like doing something else. I did not allow that to happen and my writing did not cease.

That is but one of my practices. You can find yours and start practicing. 'You are better than you think you are'. Just take the  first step and keep going. Let the 'Power of Small Steps' take you to where you want to go.

Surely you would agree that it is better to take the pain of discipline than the pain of regret.

"The undisciplined are slaves to moods, appetites and passions." ~ Stephen R. Covey~

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1 comment:

Teamwork Quotes said...

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