I write this blog from the point view of a novice, being that I am one, but also to relate to those who are also starting out. Those who also have a desire to raise their level of consciousnesses, those who are tired of feeling as leaves floating in the wind and want to exercise volition and do something meaningful with their lives. Those who have tried and failed, yet still have a relentless desire to improve, because that right there is the first step. From there it’s just about using the right strategy. Everyone is different, so the habit you pick will be whatever you choose, but the strategy is the same for everyone.
“No one can feel competent to cope with the challengers of life who is without the capacity for self-discipline. Self-discipline requires the ability to defer immediate gratification in the service of a remote goal”
This is an excerpt from the book “The Six Pillars Of Self-Esteem” by Nathaniel Branden. I recommend this book to anyone who is struggling to find the motivating factors behind self inflicted suffering or simply have a feelings of “I don’t know what’s wrong with me”, “I don’t know what I want”, “I don’t know why I cant do the things I know I’m supposed to do” This book is about the importance of self-esteem and how to acquire it, real self-esteem, not 8th place ribbon everyone’s a winner self-esteem. Lack of self-esteem can manifest itself in ways you may not know, so its a good book to read if you can’t seem to figure out why you feel the way you do. The important take away from this excerpt however, is that self-discipline is the foundation and even a requirement in the journey to self-improvement.
Today is day 50 since I began the journey to self-improvement. In my previous post I talk about my journey to self-discipline, and how you can begin your own journey, and what you might encounter. I used personal stories to better illustrate my point. Recently I’ve been having trouble coming up with content since a lot of building a habit is repetition, and there are only so many ways you can say the same thing. So that’s why I have not been posting anything lately. However now I do have something different to say and I hope to share it with you and also redefine this blog.
Now I want to report the changes I’ve been noticing since I started to build a habit, and how you can use this method in your own way to achieve self-discipline.
Cold Showers In The Morning:
on good days:
“As soon as I wake up, before I check my phone, before anything else I will get up and prepare a cup of coffee. While it’s brewing I will take a cold shower, bush my teeth and after enjoy a warm cup of coffee as my reward”
on bad days:
“I will at least run cold water on my body until I can control my breathing”
It is important to give yourself a little wiggle room, while still sticking to the habit. if you feel overwhelmed you are less likely to engage in your new habit. I chose this habit because I thought it was easy in a way, and it would wake me up, energize me; making it easier to start my day. I heard it from one of the many videos on YouTube that have the tittle “7 habits successful people do daily” or something along those lines. I later learned that there are many more benefits to cold showers than just feeling refreshed in the morning. I won’t go into details on that, because its not the cold shower but the action of making myself take a cold shower that builds discipline. Also, I should mention that during the cold shower I preferred silence, I would breath deeply and fully and would repeat two affirmations “I’m stronger than I know” and “I can, and I will be self-disciplined” I didn’t make it a point to do this from the beginning, it was just something that I started doing one day and it stuck.
I mentioned in other post that my main concern was not to stop my bad habits, it wasn’t even to have a great day. All I was concerned with was not matter what happened I was going to take a cold shower. Some days I took a cold shower after I wasted half my morning procrastinating and indulging in bad habits. Other days it was the first thing I did, and my day would shape up to be great, energetic and productive. For the most part it was a mix of both. So don’t feel discouraged if you miss a day or if you engage in undesired habits, just get back to it as soon as you can. Again My only concern was to engage consciously in this one action, despite what happened before or after.
As the days went by I felt myself becoming stronger, and began having less opposition from myself. It went as far as experiencing my own body cheering me and and rooting for me to just jump into the cold water. I began to feel a deeper connection with my body, and began noticing that my internal mechanisms actually want me to improve. I began experiencing emotions that I actually made me feel capable, and that I truly can achieve the things I set my mind to. Also, I felt my will power increase, allowing me to begin working on building more good habits.
It is the action of doing something consciously everyday, regardless of what it is, that allows the brain to “trust” itself and feel competent and capable. To illustrate my point: have you ever attempted to stop doing something, only to feel defeated and worthless for failing to stay away after some period of time? That happens because of the way our brains works. All the brain wants is to conserve energy and keep you alive, and in doing so, it makes it really hard to abstain from doing something that you have made a into habit for years. A deeply ingrained habit is nearly impossible to abstain from. You are not worthless and weak or a failure at life. In fact you are actually so strong that it is impossible to destroy what you’ve built. Unfortunately, you built bad habits. Fortunately, you can use the same technique to become stronger willingly. That is why it is so important that you make it a point to do one conscious action every day, not matter what. That is what allows you to experience self-efficacy, and self-reliance. This are the emotions and feeling that breed motivation and trigger the right chemicals in brain processes that allow it to become stronger. The result being SELF-DISCIPLINE, a tool that will eventually give you the strength to say no to your bad habits and yes to your good habits.
“Bad habits are easy to form, but hard to live with. Good habits are hard to form, but easy to live with. And as Goethe said, ‘Everything is hard before it’s easy.’” –Brian Tracy
How to do it:
- Start small– it is important to start with something that you can see yourself being able to do on a daily basis. While keeping in mind that it can’t be too easy otherwise you’re building a bad habit. There has to be some struggle to do it, yet still doable. The struggle is important, because overcoming the struggle is what generates strength. You can use the cold shower, or come up with your own, in my next post I will make a list of good and bad habits and what they say about you, so stay tuned.
- Plan Ahead– It is important to look ahead, and have a preemptive strike ready in the case that something may keep you from doing your chosen activity . For example my reward for taking a cold shower is a warm cup of coffee, but what happens when I run out of coffee? Planning ahead, I make sure to restock on coffee before I run out. Otherwise, I could potentially use that as an excuse not do my morning routine since an integral part is missing.
- Don’t Forget– you must not forget why you are doing this. In your journey you will come to moments where you begin to question why you’re even doing this. This are critical moments because you are at a cross road, do you stay in your old ways, or chose to create a better you? That is the decision you are making when you are torn between staying in bed or getting up and going for a jog. In those moments what helped me was reminding myself that the action of me getting up and doing it, despite every cell in my body telling me not to, is that: if I win this one time, I will become stronger and it will be easier next time.
- Keep Track- its is absolutely essential to keep track. It can give you strength when you feel weak and it serves as a visual representation of your progress. It gives you strength at the beginning because you can see its only been a week and you can go longer than a week right? then it give you strength later when you see how far you’ve come, so keeping a calendar and just crossing out each day is essential and indispensable.
I’ll leave you with this quote I heard from a show on Netflix, the scene was Bojack Horsman having a hard time running up a hill, and as he laid on the ground out of breath, a fellow runner monkey came up to him and said: “It gets easier… You just have to do it every day, that’s the hard part… but it does get easier”.