Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Steinbeck inspired me to try writing my own fiction. It’s a bit lofty I know, but what the heck? Right now is a good time for me to try it and I found this website that made it seem remotely possible. Plus, it is a way for me to write about an issue in my life that causes me much distress. So it’s more like therapy and thinking about the story and working on it makes me happy! So one goal related to discipline is to spend some time every work day on my story.

Also, I just decided to start running/walking six days a week. This too seems like a huge impossible task but so far I have made it four mornings in a row with a run/walk between 20 and 30 minutes each morning. The goal of this is to build up some strength and endurance in my body. I am a tall woman and fairly thin but with big hips and bum. I don’t mind my body so much and generally am quite happy with it. What I am NOT happy about is the fact that I have lived in a country without a car for almost a year, I walk everywhere and yet, I still feel tired after walking 20 minutes. This seems wrong, wrong, wrong, to me. I am going to turn 26 this month so it seems like now is a good time to try to build up some physical strength and endurance. If it smoothes out some of the bulgy edges that is fine but mostly I just don’t want to feel like I have the lung capacity of someone twice my age - which is how I feel lately.

Hence, the idea is to run/walk six days a week. This actually is not very much. And I did not set out with that idea on Day 1. On Day 1 I just wanted to see if I could do about 30 minutes of walking / running. And I could. I emphasize the walk/run idea because I do not run for 30 minutes because quite frankly, I am just too out of shape for that. But I did some reading on websites, which suggest that the best way to build up strength and endurance is to start slowly by interspersing intervals of slow jogging with fast walking, so that is what I am doing.

I do know though that one of the keys to performance and improvement and production in ANY area or skill is consistency. I think back on how I used to practice the violin an hour and a half a week thinking that made up for not practicing for five days but realize now that if only I had practiced even just 15 minutes a day instead of lumping it all in one day a week, I might be doing something else with my life. Although I have no natural rhythm so that is unlikely! But I also thought about this idea of short consistent practice in terms of other habits. Like brushing your teeth. Most of us brush our teeth twice a day for a few minutes and that keeps them fairly clean and healthy. But think! If we thought that brushing once a week for 30 minutes were the equivalent of all those mini sessions the state of our teeth would be very different! Of course, it’s better than no brushing at all but the effects are not even comparable. So thinking that taking care of my physical self is like taking care of my teeth prompted be to make it a goal to run/walk six mornings a week.

I have to admit that I have yet to want to do this run/walk each morning. No, I’d much rather sit at home and have my breakfast while surfing the web. But I do truly feel better even once I am just out the door and walking outside - it is very warm here now so I do this in the morning between 7am and 9am before it gets too hot. And when I have finished my run/walk, I do feel good. Not great. That would be an overstatement but I feel ready to start my day. So really, this is hugely about discipline for me. About just getting on with it even though I don’t really want to.

Also, when I took some of the tests on Martin Seligman’s site, the number of questions related to goal setting and discipline struck me. I don’t know much about his research apart from what I have read in my undergraduate pysch textbooks (I do a very different kind of psychology) but it makes sense to me that happiness has a lot to do with discipline. This is related to feeling in control of things, being productive and achieving goals which one sets. Happiness seems very related to setting challenges for oneself and then tackling those challenges consistently in smallish increments everyday. This of course, results in achieving goals and conquering challenges while not letting them overwhelm you. Let’s see if I am singing the same tune in two weeks time!

1 comment:

Robin said...

Somehow I think discipline is a big part of happiness - maybe because you set a goal, undertake the goal, and complete the goal. Each little credit toward completing the goal feels like success, which = happiness. I think this level of discipline is challenging for many people though (including me). How can we not make ourselves miserable by beating ourselves up if we don't reach a goal? It's a tough dilemma! Good luck with the walk/run program! It will be much cooler when you change your local so keep that as a motivator. :)