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Living a Disciplined Life: Mastering Thought and Action

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

I was downstairs, walking into the kitchen, and I noticed that the floor needed vacuuming. Immediately, the thought crossed my mind: "Just do it later." So, I heeded that inner voice, refrained from vacuuming, and procrastinated on it for the rest of the day.

Later on, I found myself upstairs, engrossed in work. I was reaching out to people via text and phone calls, and the idea surfaced that I should continue for another half hour or so. However, almost as swiftly, I reasoned with myself that I'd make up for it next time I worked. Consequently, I wrapped up my tasks for the day. When that "next time" arrived, I failed to commit the additional half hour.

While at the gym, during a tricep extension exercise, I set a goal of 8 reps. When I reached 6 and began experiencing significant discomfort due to the heavy weight, I had a thought: "You've done 6 solid reps; be proud." Encouraged by this, I ceased the exercise and didn't complete the remaining two reps.

Another instance involved me contemplating getting a gift and writing a card for my wife. The thought crossed my mind, "You have other things to do; you can handle this later." I chose to listen, but the end result was that I never got the gift or wrote the card.

I was listening to a podcast, and a statement resonated with me: "Discipline is not task-based." In other words, it's not about vacuuming, making calls, doing extra reps, or buying gifts and cards. Discipline, as the speaker explained, is about mastering control over our thought processes.

Sometimes, a message can strike you like a ton of bricks, and this one did just that to me.

I had believed I was fairly disciplined: I frequented the gym four times a week, maintained a healthy diet, and woke up at 5 am. I had numerous reasons to justify my self-assumed discipline. However, that inner voice consistently provided justifications for my actions, asserting that I was doing fine and didn't need to do anything more.

Nevertheless, I came to realize that discipline involves keen awareness of the thoughts that arise precisely when you know you SHOULD act, but allow a few seconds for additional thoughts to dissuade you.

I pondered how I could truly improve upon this newfound insight and apply it to my life effectively.

The next day, I had a thought: "I really need to do the laundry." Then, seconds later, another thought chimed in: "Do it later." There it was, the moment of awareness! Instead of letting that second thought deter me, I decided to exercise discipline in my thinking, which led to immediate action. I jumped up and went downstairs to do the laundry.

Interestingly, doing the laundry left me with a profound sense of accomplishment and confidence. Why? Because I was becoming disciplined in my thinking. I was learning to control my thoughts, leading to tangible actions.

Later, as I passed by the overflowing trash can, the thought occurred to me: "I should take out the trash." Two seconds later, the next thought tried to intervene: "Do it later!" But I recognized the pattern. Determined to be disciplined, I acted promptly and took out the trash.

I reflected on how these seemingly minor actions were contributing to my discipline-building journey. It reminded me of how a single step can bring you closer to running a marathon or how one brick contributes to constructing a house. Alone, they might not seem significant, but as you accumulate steps and add bricks, a foundation is laid.

This is how I am honing my discipline – by consistently being aware of that second thought that attempts to deter me from taking action. It's a step-by-step process, a game, a practice, and my way of cultivating discipline in my life. And with each step, not only does my discipline grow, but so does my sense of achievement.


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