This is not another article about diet and exercise and the benefits that come with a healthy lifestyle. After all, if reading an article or a book about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle was what really motivated people to take up yoga or running or weight lifting or a different diet, then our society would be much healthier: the incidence of heart disease and stroke and diabetes to name a few, would be dramatically decreased.
So…why do people wait until they can’t keep going like they have been? Why wait until the heart attack? Why wait until you’ve cornered yourself?
Asking why is a completely normal thing to do. And it might be the wrong question to ask. Asking “why” leads to a certain type of answer. We’re looking for the reason. And there in lies the problem: Inaction or an inability to change a habit or the fact that some people wait until they’ve reached the edge of the cliff is that the answer has got nothing to do with reason.
If you were to ask yourself what instead of why, is there a different answer you might expect? What is it that keeps me from caring enough about myself? What is in the way between me and my passion/intuition/wisdom? You might be thinking of answers like fear or low self-esteem. Are fear or low self-esteem really the cause or are they a result?
I can still remember my professorial father (he taught history and languages) lecturing me about various things in life (I wish I had listened better). One of his most common themes was self-discipline; that you have to be self-disciplined to be successful in this world. He used to say things in a way that implied morality as well, as if self-discipline was not only a basis for success; It was also a moral imperative. He was a serious guy, what can I say? When I was younger I wasn’t sure what he was talking about. I imagined that self-discipline was something you found on the sidewalk and you could just pick up like some loose change that had fallen out of a stranger’s pocket.
I hope as I’ve grown older, I’ve been discovering what self-discipline really is: applying oneself, repeatedly, endlessly, until whatever you’ve been applying yourself to is mastered. (And then you start over).
I’ve discovered over the years that a good life is lived with a certain amount of being-ness infused into every day. But it’s not only allowing and being that makes a good life. In fact, it’s the yang to the yin of being: it’s self-discipline, applying yourself.
A healthy lifestyle is only as good as one that is applied in one’s life. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking and analyzing and pondering the why’s. Or you could be spending the limited time you have doing.
Here are some key pillars in practicing self-discipline:
1. Determine what’s important to you. What’s the outcome you want to achieve? This will be your prize.
2. Keep your eye on the prize. Practicing self-discipline evokes feelings and sensations of discomfort. Keeping your eyes on the prize will remind you why you’re going through all the trouble.
3. Don’t stop. Keep going.
4. It’s ok to rest.
5. Expect a few stumbles. And then refer to #3.
6. Choose an accountability partner. Find a friend who you can share your journey with, as well as your action-oriented goals. Being accountable to someone is inspiring. At the very least, you will do things because you don’t want to feel ashamed in front of your friend. That can be all you have to motivate you sometimes.
If you have comments about this article and especially if you have other suggestions on how to foster more self-discipline, I’d love to hear from you; leave your comments!
On May 5th, I’ll be leading a very special healing retreat where we’ll be practicing self-discipline as well as discovering what makes us tick, how to transform and make lasting changes and awakening to our greater selves, infusing our daily lives with beingness. If you have questions or want to register for the retreat, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.