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3 Ways To Become More Disciplined | External Versus Intrinsic Motivation

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Last updated on July 11, 2020

How to become more disciplined is an important conversation because for the first 18+ years of my life I did discipline the entirely wrong way.

I started playing piano in 3rd grade or so. Every day I would play 30 minutes of piano. I made myself practice scale after scale, song after song …

  • I continued playing piano until the end of 12th grade.
  • I was invited to a prestigious state-wide California performance recital in 9th grade.
  • Only about 1% of pianists who performed were invited to this stage.

Basically I was good. Really good. I practiced a lot. I was VERY DISCIPLINED.

If I made a mistake, I made sure I would “practice” the finger patterns until I got the finger patterns 100% perfectly.

Sometimes the finger patterns were long. For example, my favorite song was Moon Light Sonata. I made a lady cry once in the audience after I played piano.

It took me a long time to memorize the song and play it perfectly without looking at the sheet music.

Sometimes I would play much longer than a half-hour. The finger patterns were tough. I couldn’t leave the piano until I GOT IT RIGHT DAMMIT.

Leaving something unfinished was NOT ALLOWED.

Many times my piano “practice” was more like piano “torture”.

I can vividly remember SLAMMING my fingers into the keys, again and again. And again.

I HAD TO GET THE FINGER PATTERN RIGHT. THE RIGHT WAY.

Years later I reflected. Nobody in my family said anything. Here I was, daily, literally BANGING on the keys.

My parents never asked me if anything was wrong. Never said anything. Didn’t look at me either.

My piano practices were not beautiful. The music that came out was beautiful, yes.

But the process was hell. Absolute hell. Torture.

To my parents, the ENDS were worth the MEANS. As long as I put on a good image, any MEANS were justified.

If someone were to have asked me back then how to become more disciplined, I would have answered – JUST DO IT.

I remember telling my parents one time that I wanted to quit piano. That I hated it. Essentially, they shunned me. Told me I would have to tell the piano teacher myself and didn’t talk to me the rest of the evening.

Now I don’t want to bash on my parents here. But I do want to talk about discipline with you here today. Because something happened after my last performance in 12th grade. I never played again.

I just quit cold turkey. Done. Fucking over it.

Today I can barely play. Kind sad, isn’t it? I literally put in 1000’s of hours on a musical instrument and became damn good at it. And today I can’t even play a basic scale.

I sometimes, if there’s ever a piano in a library or coffeeshop, will walk up to it, and strum the notes of moonlight sonata, the beginning few chords of beautiful gloom.

Why did I stop?

Why did I stop something I was good at?

It was because the MEANS caught up to the ENDS.

For years the ENDS had JUSTIFIED the MEANS. Torture was WORTH IT as long as the RESULTS CAME.

But then there came a day when the results weren’t worth it. Poof. The results didn’t matter. The process wasn’t sustainable. And the house of cards came crashing down.

Literally, in the course of an evening, I made a decision to quit and walk away and abandon all my years of effort.

I’m curious, leave me a comment or message about how your parents disciplined you.

discipline your child

Have you ever been here with a diet before? Or an exercise program? Or with anything worthwhile in life?

So that’s how you do discipline the wrong way. You torture yourself. Now starting this Sunday the 22nd I’ll be leading a 10-day food yoga challenge in my private facebook group. If you have any random questions like “why do I crave pickles?” here is the place to ask those questions.

It’s for people who have used this ‘torture’ discipline in the past and realize that method isn’t for them anymore. This 10-day challenge will be about the ‘good’ way to discipline yourself, and I’ll be going Live everyday and giving tons of support and guidance along the way.

If you’re interested, you can request to join here – https://facebook.com/groups/eatingenlightenment

I did another post here about how to diet in general, similar theme to this message.

Now let’s talk about the good form of discipline.

Because yes. Effort is important. If you want to bring out your best self, and live your best life, you need lots a effort.

But notice how I used the word effort, instead of discipline…

Let’s take a look at the root word of discipline for a moment, shall we?

From an etymology website, here’s what I found:

c. 1200, “penitential chastisement; punishment for the sake of correction,” from Old French descepline “discipline, physical punishment; teaching; suffering; martyrdom”

The Latin word is glossed in Old English by þeodscipe. The meaning “treatment that corrects or punishes” is from the notion of “order necessary for instruction.”

So you can see in this word, discipline, that there is some torture involved.

But before we continue our conversation around discipline, I want to share with you some other alternative synonyms about the word discipline.

I went to thesaurus.com and searched for discipline synonyms. Here’s the list of what I found.

You can see that many of these words here about how to become more disciplined have punishment, torture qualities to their meaning.

Control. Drill. Strictness. Will. Subordination.

Yet many of the words here about how to become more disciplined sound different. They sound more positive.

Mastery. Practice. Development. Education. Preparation.

The full list I found on thesaurus.com is below.

  • control
  • development
  • education
  • method
  • practice
  • preparation
  • regulation
  • restraint
  • self-control
  • self-restraint
  • will
  • conduct
  • cultivation
  • curb
  • domestication
  • drill
  • drilling
  • exercise
  • inculcation
  • indoctrination
  • limitation
  • orderliness
  • self-command
  • self-government
  • strictness
  • subordination
  • willpower
  • self-mastery

And I have three more words for you.

Growth-Mindset, Compassionate, Practice

>>>>> Growth-Mindset – You learn from your mistakes. You can learn how to do ‘food’ in a healthy sustainable manner. Food is a skill you can learn (if you practice). Mistakes and failures are learning opportunities.

This mindset is so important. That’s why in the 10 day challenge I’ll be asking you to keep a journal everyday. Because you actually need to sit down, contemplate, and reflect in order to learn and harness the power of a growth mindset.

>>>>> Compassion – You love yourself in the process of failing. You’re gentle with yourself. Compassion is also a practice of self-soothing. You practice the ability to speak with a kind, internal voice. You practice an ability to stand up to your inner thoughts which scream at you. And you practice sitting with pain. You gently feel the pain in your heart and allow yourself to lean into that pain.

>>>>> Practice – This stuff takes time. But with the right view on practice, it’s not a torture process, but a gradual evolution fueled by deep beautiful personal satisfaction, both emotional and physical. It feels good. This whole thing has to truly, honestly and deeply feel good. Effort has to feel good.

Click here to join the facebook group and challenge starting this Sunday the 22nd.

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