Developing Discipline (p3)

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“No man is free who is not master of himself.”
Epictetus

March 4 2018
I woke up today in a bit of a shit mood. Over the last 3 months I have been up and down emotionally. For awhile it seemed that almost everyday I would wake up in a funk. Over time the morning moods have improved but some mornings still kick off in a funk. Today was one of those days. Today is also a day that I planned to take a 15 miles bike ride first thing in the morning after meditation.

It is probably a safe guess that most of us encounter situations like my morning today. We have set a plan of discipline (my decision to ride my bike this morning) and then some obstacle appears in our path (I woke up in a shit mood and did not want to do anything). What do we do? This is the common problem we encounter in regards to discipline. You have decided not to eat refined sugar…but then a co-worker brought in some amazing cookies. You decided you are going to the gym in the morning…but when you wake up it is pouring buckets of rain outside. The examples are plentiful and I imagine you have a few running through your head right now. What do we do? How do we use discipline in these situations?

Here is the thing…you just do it. Thats it. It is that simple. I don’t mean it is easy. I can assure you that I did not want to get dressed, get out in the cold, and bike 15 miles before work. There were other things that I could have done. I could have done some writing. I could have done some reading. I thought about taking a long hot bath because my leg muscles are sore and I could easily convince myself that I need a rest. I internally grumbled the whole time I was getting my bike out…and then I had to air up the tires! But I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. And here is the thing: I grumbled, I dragged my feet a little but I kept moving and before long I was on the bike and peddling.

I’ll give you a well guarded, open secret about discipline…it feels good. In my experience, we do not regret engaging in the disciplined action. If you pay attention, the pay off is almost immediate. I wasn’t on my bike for more than 10 minutes before I was absolutely grateful that I had managed the discipline to get out for the ride. I find the same applies to avoiding sugar. Yes, the cookies might look delicious, and yes, I might even know for sure that they taste delicious…but even more delicious is recognizing that I have the ability to refuse that. The wave of satisfaction that comes with flexing the muscles of discipline tastes way better than any cookie, or unplanned off day. But you have to take a leap of faith to experience this.

The leap of faith is this: you can do it.

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