Why discipline creates happiness and how to change your attitude to it.

January – do you find it making you go ‘ugh’ and diving under the duvet, or do you love the sense of possibilities a new year brings?  I used to be in the former category, and while I still find the dark mornings tough, I am now in the latter category and I have discovered why.

I was one of those people who used to set myself a huge long list of New Year’s resolutions every year (most of them unachievable) and then beat myself up when I failed.  Stupid – yeah, but fortunately I have learnt what works for me and what definitely doesn’t.

Now I don’t make any lists in January.  Instead I do a review of the previous year and see what I may be able to improve upon (always with self-compassion) and I write down some things in the present year that I am looking forward to.

Surprisingly I have discovered that some of the things I look forward to and enjoy, require a fair amount of self-discipline.   I love to write.  But sometimes it can feel like treading through treacle.  However, if I manage to write even half a page, I feel my day has been of some value.

So, what I have discovered is that being disciplined creates happiness in providing one with a sense of achievement, a sense of self and a sense of values.

Even if I have a ‘bad’ writing day, I will have inevitably learnt something.  In fact, anything I read, write or listen to is teaching me.  If I only get one new idea a day or one new lesson a day, well heck, that’s 365 new lessons a year.  That’s not bad, and most of us might learn at least five new things before breakfast!  OK, sorry, but you know what I mean.

I am hugely comforted by Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours concept; that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to make one an expert in any given field (yes, I know it has been disputed by many,) because when I am disciplined enough to just try, I know I am working towards improvement.

I may not be a great writer, I may not even be a very good one, but by jove I am improving every day!  My attitude and desire tell me to keep practicing, keep writing and I cannot fail but to improve.  Well, I don’t know about you, but that comforts me a lot!

I saw this idea in action today.  I went to a yoga class.  It is many a year since I have been to a yoga class.  At the start of the class I was struggling to put my hands flat on the floor when I stretched down, or to get my heels down during some of the stretches, but by the end of the class (after having repeated the exercises several times) I could see a marked improvement.  Just that little improvement made me happy.

Just see how happy a child is when they learn to ride a bike, or do something for the first time.  It took discipline.   It always does, but discipline doesn’t have to mean hardship. Just frame it differently.

So, it’s not about the discipline, like most things in life, it’s about your attitude to it!  So, get practising and I wish you every success in 2018.   We should start a progress board where we share our progress and encourage each other!  Feel free to share!