This article is Part (2) of a series discussing the topic of discipline and its different perspectives.
Life is full of intertwining webs and connections. The more you learn about something from different angles, the more likely you will master your life and have direct control of your fulfillment.
Keep in mind to take everything with a grain of salt. There is power to this perspective and it will challenge your thinking, but it is still only one perspective. Take what serves you and leave the rest.
Discipline is Purpose and Memories
Did you know that something as odd as memories effect how disciplined we are?
That sounds strange because it is strange! Life is amazing.
This article is going to investigate those connections.
You must have a reason and a memory of your purpose in order to have discipline. Since reasons are memories or information, we can often lose them.
Have you ever noticed that the moment you lose your discipline is when you lose your memories, your reasons for the discipline itself?
If you have lost the memory (the purpose) of your discipline, it will probably sound like this:
- “Why should I clean the house right now?”
- “What is the purpose of worrying about it?”
- “What is even the point?”
- (Or you won’t remember at all!)
If you have said this before, you are not alone! We all have these times where we lose our vision. It is our human nature.
Go to Sleep Awake, Wake Up Asleep
Here is a personal example back in my freshman and sophomore years of college.
There were nights full of regret and frustration.
Whether I ate unhealthy, procrastinated on my school work, or played too many video games, I felt like I was unproductive, exhausted, or that I wasted the day.
I would sit on my bed where I promised myself the next morning that I would clean the whole house, get my project finished, make some money, and so on.
Hindsight felt so clear that I knew exactly what I should do the next day.
I told myself that this would be the last night of regret and the next day would be a game changer.
Time for serious discipline!
I was no longer going to screw around. It was time to get results in my life!
Then, I would wake up the next morning and do none of those things.
The beautiful nature of sleep is that our mind becomes a blank slate in the morning.
The moment you open your eyes your memories will blur. (unless you have a serious intention the night before, which we will discuss later on)
If you are not mindful of that moment, an unconscious, automatic, unhealthy habit can take control of your morning and you will make the same mistakes as yesterday.
This leads us to two profound questions to contemplate as we continue the topic of discipline:
- How can I bring that passion, that purpose the night before with me when I wake up in the morning?
- How can I start the day focused with my vision?
Addictions make us forget
Not only do we naturally forget to be disciplined, our addictive behaviors make it even more difficult to recover!
If you have ever eaten junk food and observed the side effects, you may find that it fogs your mind and your agenda goes down the drain.
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles call this “brain fog.”
They hypothesize that:
Sugar causes the formation of free radicals in membranes and inhibits the nerve cells’ ability to communicate properly . . . these physiological alterations can lead to a diminished ability to “remember instructions, process ideas, and handle our moods.” (Source)
If we apply this research to our topic of discipline, we find that addictive behaviors such as junk food will scramble your vision and purpose for the day!
Without purpose or the ability to recall your memories, your discipline is no where to be found!
Addictions make us look at the world through its own lens. (United Insights will write about this topic in greater detail in the future.)
Entertainment such as video games and Netflix are also great examples of how they are designed to get us immersed.
We begin to see the world with the lens of the TV series or the video game.
The bright lights, colors, the brilliant storytelling, and the music are fashioned.
After you play the movie, song, or game, you cannot help but think about it when you are cooking, riding in the car, or when you are trying to go to sleep.
In other words, the goal of the entertainment is immerse itself in your head to the point that you cannot get it out!
Once we are immersed in distractions, it is much harder to remember our disciplines, right?
That is why binge watching Netflix or playing video games can consume hours of our day, because we lose touch with the time, our to-do list, and our disciplines!
You do not have to just believe me or any research out there. You can try this for yourself!
The next time you grab a soda or spend an hour watching your favorite TV show, observe how your mental clarity changes and how the rest of your day plays out.
If you forget to be disciplined, here are a few ways you can remember your purpose:
1. External reminders:
A couple of examples to start setting reminders is with the following:
- White boards
- Cell phone alarms
- A “reminder bracelet”
- A calander
- A friend that makes you accountable
- Pictures, motivational posters, etc
Although external reminders can be a place to start disciplining yourself, do not rely heavily on them because you need to have a habit of using those reminders.
If you do not have a habit to check them, your reminders will just be decoration for your room!
You can walk past your white board every day and still ignore all of the reminders.
Don’t fall for your own sneakiness!
From personal experience, I had a message reminder as my lock screen for my iPhone.
It was part of an intuition experiment, which eventually United Insights will write about.
It looks like the picture to the left:
I check my phone at least once a day, I look at it, but I never see it.
I never realized the reminder was right before my eyes!
It was only until my father asked me about my lock screen half a year later that I realized that the reminder was there in the first place!
The mind is a tricky beast.
If your mind does not want to remember something, it will do whatever it takes to ignore it!
It all comes down to you reminding yourself!
After we recognize the limitation of physical reminders, we can begin to find internal-motivation through the use of mantras.
2. How to use mantras to remember your purpose
You must not only create discipline in your life but also a habit of remembering your reasons, your purpose for the discipline.
One effective way for doing this is by saying a mantra throughout the day.
What is a mantra?
A mantra is simply a word or phrase that is packed full of meaning that you repeat to yourself.
Why is this helpful for staying disciplined?
You need memories of your purpose to stay disciplined.
That being said, which is easier: remember a couple of sentences and lists for why you should be disciplined, or would you rather just remember one word?
Not only is remembering a word or phrase easier, but it is also more effective because a single word or phrase is all you need to trigger the rest of your memory!
(The most common example of this happening is when you hear one or two lyrics of a song or have a quick glance at a picture and memories of your childhood come right back too you!)
As a metaphor to the efficiency of mantras, here is a question for you:
Is it easier to carry your cellphone with all of your music and movies downloaded instead of bringing a suitcase full of CD’s and DVD’s?
If you agree with the former, that is the power of mantras in a nutshell!
A mantra you could start off with is, “discipline is freedom.”
The purpose of this mantra is to remind yourself to finish your work with concentration so you will have freedom for the rest of the day.
Another side of “discipline is freedom” is that you have a vision to free yourself from addictions, so this mantra could help you when you are struggling the most and to snap back into action!
Your mantra can be anything you want.
Mystics use mantras for a reason, they are powerful!
Nonetheless, there is nothing stopping you from using mantras for practical results in your life!
3. Have an outstanding reason to discipline yourself:
Notice that you can remember the reason, the “logical reason” to do something. However, you can still fail to act on the discipline.
Why does this happen?
Is it possible that it is not good enough to logically know what you should or should not do?
What if you need something more profound, a deep emotional desire to be disciplined?
How can we distinguish the difference between a bland motivation and an emotional one?
Let us investigate this:
If you have ever been on a diet. There will be times where you will ask yourself:
“Why shouldn’t I eat that bag of chocolate?”
(Then you will probably answer to yourself:)
“Because it is healthy not to.”
“Because chocolate is bad for me.”
That answer is not going to cut it! Certainly, it will not be enough to motivate you. That is not the real reason you are trying to eat healthy!
The motivation does not come from saying “it is healthy.”
Your true motivation comes from WHY you want to be healthy.
That type of motivation comes from something deeper, emotionally driven.
A man goes to the doctor. They tell him that his diet was leading him to a heart attack in the near future, and he may never see his wife again.
That would change your priorities pretty quick!
In that situation, the real motivation would be to live longer and be able to spend that valuable time with his wife.
Do you see the difference?
That love is what is going to go beyond the call of duty. THAT is what you want to remember to maintain your discipline!
In other words, in order to have discipline, you need a strong purpose and a way to remember it.
You need a why that will make you cry!
Every moment you get out of bed, your mind is a blank canvas.
Because the memories of your purpose are blurry, whatever decision you make will influence the rest of your day and the discipline that comes with it.
That is why we stress the importance of mindful decision making, external reminders, and ultimately an outstanding purpose that ultimately YOU must remind yourself.
Lastly, you pack that vision into a mantra that can keep you focused and disciplined.