The Joy of Discipline

Finding a good amount of discipline in our daily routine over long periods of time can help us move through things, achieve goals, and have the lives we want. The word "discipline" can also hold negative connotations and feelings for many of us. How do we break through those negative connections in order to do the things we want to do?

Many of us, when we were little and did something wrong, we got in trouble, and got disciplined for our actions, which meant anything from no dessert, being sent to our room, guilt trips, being yelled at, to some form of physical discipline. So, when we are trying to incorporate discipline into our lives in order to achieve the things we want, we may understandably find some resistance to doing what we set out to do. Even if we really want to do it, if there's a negative sentiment connected with the word or idea of discipline for us, then there's likely to be a block there that could get in our way of following through on our intentions.

What does discipline in our adult lives look like? Most of us have the discipline to go to work, to brush our teeth each day, or to go for a run. In this sense, discipline seems to be a close relative of habit. The discipline to do something isn't just about being habitual, but about doing it even when we don't feel like it. It's about being consistent with something in order to learn, improve, grow. Doing anything over a long period of time, especially if it's something to learn, improve, and grow can eventually bring out challenges and difficulties that we need to face in order to get to the next level of skill or understanding. That's where the discipline really comes in handy and is important, sticking with it even through discomfort and sometimes through the unknown. Daily discipline can keep us from veering too far off course and stay headed in our intended direction.

So, where is the joy in all of this? Is it possible to not only reap the benefits of our disciplined efforts over the long term, but also enjoy the present moment? Is that even necessary to find the joy? When we attempt to do something difficult, do something despite how we feel at the moment, we may find that disciplined action does not always feel good. We may also find that NOT trying that difficult or challenging thing also leaves us not feeling good. When we try and succeed at difficult endeavors, even if they feel uncomfortable or beyond our reach, there is positive reinforcement created in our mind and soul. Even if we don't "succeed" the first time, the trying can inform us so we learn what to do differently to have the success we want, or we find that it might take longer than expected. When we don't attempt it at all, we may feel like we're letting ourselves down and it will be harder to move through difficult things next time they arise.

Continually failing to do something that we're trying to do may be a sign of blocked energy, a deeper issue that needs tending, or something we're consciously or subconsciously avoiding. How do we get over that hurdle...those days and times when our knowledge and practice of discipline just feels impossible to implement despite what feels like our best efforts? We might need some assistance and support to do it. Many of us can get isolated and not even realize it, especially when we're trying really hard to do something. To get through blocks and avoidance, we may need to talk it through with someone, work with a personal coach, or find an accountability group to connect with. We might take it into our yoga or meditation practices and find guidance from our internal knowing or from a higher universal source. Whatever we do to be able to find the consistency we're looking for, that discipline can bring us so much joy as it keeps us in the present moment and moving towards our goals and desires.

One practice to try is to feel into the energy of what our lives will be like when we accomplish what we've set out to do. Imagine it's already done, picture what you're doing, what's around you, all the details of what your life looks like in that area and notice what it feels like. Then stay with that picture and the feel of it for as long as you possibly can. For cultivating consistent discipline, imagine what it looks and feels like when you've done something for a month, 6 months, 1 year and longer. Feeling into it in as much detail as possible helps to shift the energy around whatever may be stuck or difficult.

Try it out this week and see what happens. What's one area in your life that feels stuck or is continually difficult to stay committed to? Can you feel the joy of it once it's accomplished?What are some other steps you might take to move through any stuck places so you can incorporate discipline in your life and find the joy in it?

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