I assume most of you are familiar with the following situation: Sunday morning, after a late night out, the head is throbbing with pain and you wonder how long you can control the feeling of nausea before you have to rush off to the toilet. Hangover time! The thought of never ever drinking alcohol again, or at least not for a quite a while, is very appealing. An easy decision, so it seems. A little bit of fun for so much suffering just isn’t worth it!
Then comes the afternoon, nausea goes, the headache eases, and latest by early evening I start wondering, ‘just a little Brandy to go to sleep...’
Alcohol excess is only one example of course. Any drug, bad eating habbits, lacking exercise, stopping with the crap we don’t want in our lifes and starting with the things we always wanted to do. Why is change so difficult? Or why do we make it so difficult?
As a human species, we have the tendency to wait until change is not a free choice any more, but a necessity. Number One reason for giving up smoking? When the doctor tells you it’s a matter of ‘quit or die’. Well, I suppose some people decide, at least subconsciously, to die but for the vast mayority option two is not really an option. Hence there is no choice.
The big question is, when is the tipping point? When does choice turn into no-choice? It almost seems that we enjoy gambling with this uncertainty. Why leaving my comfort zone now if I can still change at a later time? The problem is of course that not knowing where the edge is, it is possible that we fall over. When we suddenly realise that we must change, we already missed the turning. Too late! And as individuals, society and as the whole world, can we really affort to wait until it is too late?
Yesterday I had a discussion with a good friend about what is actually needed to make change happen. Soon we arrived at two ingredients, discipline and will.
Discipline is a mental act. I force myself to do something, whether I like it or not. Will, on the other hand, seems to be more rooted in the emotions. Why? Well, at first I was wondering about that as well. Thinking about it though, to have will, to really want something, requires a very strong motivation. ‘I am going to get really fit because I have always dreamt of hiking in the himalayas.’ No motivation, no will.
The quality of the motivation is determined by emotions. The stronger I feel that I want to fulfill my dream of hiking in the himalayas, the better is my motivation. And the better my motivation, the more powerful my will. So yes Charlotte, I give you that one. My will is powered by my emotions.
Another friend of mine, Don Jose, has told me recently in another discussion that ‘once there is true understanding, discipline is not needed any more.’ Instead of suffering the mental agony of doing something we don’t feel like doing, with true understanding, change becomes effortless. And true understanding has to take place in both mind and heart. Otherwise, if my mind understands something but my heart doesn’t, emotionally I might not have any good reasons to change. I feel frustrated, and angry, and depressed, and then I get the cigarettes out, or the chocolate, or I stay in front of the TV instead of going for a walk or work in the garden.
A different example: We all know that most of the coffee market is controlled by huge profit-driven corporations, with desastrous consequences for the small coffee bean farmers in South America and Africa. Still we buy and drink the same coffee as always. Why is that? Maybe because we only half understand the issue. Mentally, yes. But do we understand the whole situation emotionally? Do we feel the injustice? Injustice that we feed with our actions. Do we feel the anxiety of the farmer, who has to struggle daily to survive, not being able to send his kids to school, no perspective for the future? Just because we don’t want to pay a fair price for a cup of coffee. Feeling the whole dilemma, surely we’d think twice before buying the cheap Lidl coffee, or Nescafé, or from any of the other big players who give a shit about values outside of their bank account.
There are many more examples. The point is, we need to sort out our emotions. To find out how we really feel. And how we make others feel. To find ways of expressing our anger and frustration, making room for a better feeling. Like love for instance. Shouldn’t that be motivation enough?
Changing our bad habits by loving ourselves.
And changing the world by loving others.
So forget about discpline. Find the will to love!