Being disciplined is about taking action on a consistent basis, whether you felt like it or not. While it is true that to achieve your goals you need to take action, being disciplined isn’t just about taking action.
Napoleon Hill said:
Self-discipline begins with the mastery of your thoughts
While everyone thinks, not everyone is aware of their thinking, how they are thinking, and why they are thinking in a particular way.
Are you able to see the:
- Good in every bad situation?
- Bad in every good situation?
My guess is, if you chose to, you can. The more interesting question is, why would someone choose to see the bad in every good situation?
The answer can be a bit tricky. Here are three steps that will help you become a master of your thoughts.
1. Understand your thinking
Why are some people pessimist, while others are optimist. It is not because of their genetic make up. Therefore, it is something that they learned along the way. Here are three factors at play:
- Environment: Whether we care to admit or not, we are all influenced by the environment we are in. In today’s instant, highly connected, and always-on world, we may be physically with the person we love, but we are constantly distracted by our devices. While many parents understand the detrimental effects of being glued to their devices, some may say they do not have a choice because of the nature of their work.
- Education: As an economist by training, I am well familiar with the idea that resources are scarce. And because of scarcity, we need to optimally allocate them to produce the highest output possible. With that idea firmly tattooed in my mind, it is highly likely that embracing a scarcity mindset is the accepted norm.
- Experience: It was not until I was 13 years old that I was aware that death comes to everyone, even when they are just 18 months old. I shared previously how I was deeply affected by my brother’s death here. Based on that experience, you might forgive me if I have been a little impatient with you. You see, I have that thinking that death might just strike me any time.
2. Rewire your thinking
Let me preface this by the idea of the path of least resistance. Resistance, here, is used to represent your current way of thinking. In order to change or rewire your thinking, you’d need to resist the current and adopt a new way of thinking.
For instance I want to work on being more disciplined in managing my emotions. I get heighten anxieties whenever I am not able to complete the tasks scheduled for the day. As a result of that anxiety, I snap at others easily. Having recognized the pattern, incomplete tasks lead to heighten anxieties, I then have to rewire my thinking. Instead of becoming agitated, I then focus on what I can do given the amount of time and energy I have and then re-schedule the rest.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice
Once you have identified the new way of thinking, all you need to do is to practice. Your previous way of thinking is probably by now, second nature. It happens almost instantaneously because the synaptic connection is already so strong. Whereas your new way of thinking seems to require additional effort because the synaptic connection is weak.
Think of the old way of thinking as a well-worn pathway that leads to the top of the mountain. Whereas the new way of thinking is a path less traveled. Naturally, given both options, you are more likely to take the well-worn path to the top.
However, something magical happens when you persist with the new way of thinking. The synaptic connection becomes stronger with the new way. While those connections of the old way gets weaker, through a process known as synaptic pruning.
Therefore, when you persist, you dramatically increase the chances of establishing a new way of thinking.
Take a few moments and reflect on the following:
- How would you describe the dominant way that you think?
- Do you embrace the thinking of a victor or a victim?
- Without being judgemental, why do you think the way you do?
- Were there any significant events in your life that might have made an impact on the way you think?