Saturday, March 5, 2011


     This business of self-discipline has always been a tricky one for me. The words stumble me up. "Discipline" has such a negative connotation. Webster's defines it as "enforced obedience," as both "instruction," and "punishment." None of that sits in me with any comfort or satisfaction. The whole concept makes me squirm.
     There's an additional definition, however, for the actual practice of "self-discipline," and that one is: "regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement:" More palatable, certainly, but still having to do with rules. Rules scare me, because they feel inflexible and rigid, imposed from outside, activated by cultural belief systems and inner "shoulds." I should eat less. I should get to bed earlier. I should exercise more. I should spend more time with my parents, be more patient, talk less, relax more. But why? Who is really saying so? Is it me, or is it guilt in me telling me I should?
     I want to live by choice, not discipline. If something I do feels good in a total person kind of way, if it truly serves me physically, or spiritually, or mentally, I want to do more of it, by choice. And I want to do less of what makes me feel uncomfortable, sneaky, or dark. In my experience, what happens in life is that we discover something that really benefits us, a new exercise, or eating reasonably, or getting more sleep, or whatever it may be, and we climb on a soap box to tell the world about it. We feel great! And we know we feel great because of that specific something that we are doing. And then we stop doing it, and no one is more surprised than we are that we suddenly feel lousy again. We're back to complaining, we're back to being victims.
     So maybe it's self-actualization I'm after, and commitment to self-health, and not so much self-discipline after all. If I do things that make me feel good, I have to keep doing them if I want to keep on feeling good. It's a simple cause and effect thing. Consistency matters for consistent results.
Today, I am willing to commit to a consistent activity of my choosing that will improve the quality of my life, and I am willing to follow-through on my commitment, no matter what.