glow notes

Friday, October 07, 2005

the "D" word

The cover of Oriah Mountain Dreamer's book The Dance says:

What if the question is not why am I so infrequently the person I really want to be, but why do I so infrequently want to be the person I really am?

And that, I believe, begins a conversation about the difference between will power and discipline.

Will power means gritting your teeth and getting something difficult done. That's necessary somteimes. It's a powerful force, the will, but it's draining to use it very often.

Discipline is making time, saving energy, creating space, to do the things that matter to you, that make you more you.

For instance, I am working to create time to meditate and read inspirational stuff daily, which has been difficult. But when I do it, my life flows better, I am full of inspiration and ideas, and I am a much more joyful person. Oh, and I sleep better, that's a plus.

Why is it difficult? I can think of two possible reasons, probably both true. One, it's always hard to build a new habit - it takes persistence and planning. Two, I think sometimes our little "s" selves resist moving in the direction of our highest good (towards revealing our big "S" Selves) because it entails a lot of responsibility. I'll think more on that and write about it in another post.

Some people are shocked at my discipline in regard to food and fitness. I lift weights and run 5 days a week. I get up gawdawefulearly to do it. I pack my food up the night before and stick to an eating plan. Right now, at least, I don't deviate from that plan. What I do is not outrageous, but it is disciplined.

But you see, it's easy for me. Because a) I've already built the habits and b) this is not about willpower. It's about discipline. Discipline to be more me.

A mentor I've never met, Dave Draper, writes in his latest newsletter:

I treated the gym as a refuge and my training as a gift. I relaxed, settled into my workouts without pressure, allowed them to happen -- I relied on them -- and they happened very well.

Yes, yes, and yes.

The take-home lesson?

If building a habit (or giving one up) is difficult or uncomfortable, that's normal. You can design support structures and strategies to make it easier. I am, for instance, reading and meditating each night before bed. The structure of that schedule is helping me to incorporate something new into my life. I may also find a friend to do discuss the reading with once a week, so that I'll have added incentive to have done it.

However, if building your new habit feels like pushing a boulder up a hill each day, it may be that you need to take a hard look at your goal and see if it's the right one.

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