Where Discipline and Pleasure Meet

Posted on July 1, 2013. Filed under: Exercise, Health, Philosophy | Tags: , , , , |

Dog walkingHave you ever noticed that the things that require discipline become a pleasure if you stick with it?  When I got a dog I started taking 2 mile-long walks per day.  It is not always pleasant.  In winter or when I have an early appointment it still takes discipline to get out there early and in the cold to get the dogs walked.  Later in the day, when I’m tired, I’d rather get horizontal on the couch.  But a little secret of being committed to something is that there is great satisfaction in completing the task, even when taxing.  I really enjoyed our morning walk today with the absolutely perfect weather.  Even in the bitter cold, though, there is delight in conquering that mile in blowing snow!  Over the years of owning and walking dogs I have literally walked thousands of miles that I otherwise would not have walked.  This is no small thing for my body and mind.

I have noticed this idea transfers to other activities.  Learning a new language is wickedly difficult!  But what fun it becomes when you can actually communicate with someone from another country.  For little kids learning to read can be laborious, and then they can discover how a book can suck you into a different reality!  Keeping up with maintenance of something like a car or appliance – there is just nothing like the feeling of being on top of things.

I wonder if we are valuing discipline less.  I work with adult students and I’m always amazed when they complain that it is hard to learn something.  Yes… that’s part of learning and when you develop perseverance in yourself by refusing to give up you discover the joys of learning and becoming proficient in something new.  Most Americans are used to a pretty easy life, but easy can translate to a boring and lackluster life.  If you’re not struggling with something, disciplining yourself to keep at it, then I propose you find a challenge.  There’s nothing like it!

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