Friday, September 4, 2009

In Discipline, Watch Yourself

I’ve noticed that every time I make a resolution to change and improve something in my life my success is dependent to a large degree on my personal vigilance to stay on track. I must watch myself so I don’t give into the littlest of temptations. The moment I’m unaware, the wheels are likely to fall off. I’m sure you relate.

And I’ve had plenty of practise. Giving up or modifying my approach to junk food, smoking, drinking etc (i.e. ‘the usual suspects)—all several times—I have finally learned the keys to success in changing habits. It’s no more complicated than good old-fashioned discipline.

Once we’re stopped it’s easy to stay stopped—provided we’re vigilant i.e. focused. It also makes it easier if we’re replacing the vice with some virtuous activity—smoking for exercise, for instance.

But this is why transforming ourselves and our habits is hard. Discipline is hard because it requires awareness first, yes, but then also a tenacity of will is required to stick with the plan we’ve committed to initially, despite the evidence of our own meek and weak hearts which want most to enjoy the ‘blessings’ i.e. those good things we enjoy too much, and the pleasures of life.

We forget the very reason we’re on this ‘trip of change’ to a new destination forit was because we couldn’t control ourselves and as a result our health or wellbeing suffered. We either liked the good thing too much or fell for the vice.

Being watchful of ourselves is the key, but how do we implement this in the minutes of our lives? Well, going back into manual is one way. Like a drive motor start-up button, we select “manual” and don’t merely let our systems run on “auto.” We learn to think consciously in our moment-by-moment existence.

We get in touch with all our senses and we tap into them. We learn to be honest with ourselves and most of all we embrace the ability to do without.

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