Friday, July 29, 2011

What's On Your Mind?

Is there any topic you'd like to discuss?  My intent was for this site to be a forum for discussion, rather than just my view on things.  

I'll be on a hiking trip in the Smokies this weekend.  I'll be glad to engage on any relevant topic for next week.  A few of you signed up as authors.  Feel free to put out a post on your own.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I know what you're craving.  Some cold, hard facts that will set you on the pathway to a more disciplined life.  

What if you could determine what was important, best, and just plain right for you to do, and then could move into making that a reality?  Is a lack of self-discipline the only thing keeping you from saying to yourself:  Body, you're overweight and need to lose 20 lbs. and then effectively go about reducing your caloric intake and/or increasing your exercise?  Is there anything you couldn't do with the right amount of self-discipline?  What are the roles of willpower and motivation in this?  Are the concepts synonymous?  This issue permeates all aspects of life either positively or negatively.  In fact, this concept has already been part of a couple of posts here:  The Will and Physically Speaking.

I can still clearly recall a moment in my life when this idea intruded into my mind:  Discipline is good.  The reason I say intruded is because that idea was so foreign to me prior to that evening, walking across a yard outside some army barracks at Ft. Gordon, GA when I was 19.  Prior to that moment, I had understood discipline to be a negative.  It was restrictive.  It was punishment.  But after going through boot camp and advanced training in the military, I began to see a different side of discipline.  Let's be honest, discipline can be punishment.  Even self-discipline.  There's an interesting saying used by bodybuilders:  Pain is just weakness leaving the body.  I think that's a useful way of looking at this issue.  We don't want to force ourselves out of comfort.  But the 'pain' we feel from self-discipline is accomplishing the very thing we truly want or need, namely change for the better.

I wish cold, hard facts could set us on the pathway to a more disciplined life.  Unfortunately, facts alone don't motivate us very well.  I think that's where willpower comes in.  We do first need to understand the issue, and then plan our course of action.  But how will we be consistently successful at accomplishing our goals?  Our will enables decisions to be effective.  Where does our willpower-enhancing motivation come from?  I would say that, generally, my 'will' to eat too much good-tasting food is stronger than my 'will' to be healthy (long-term Important/Non-urgent goal, see Time Matrix) or to have a slim physique.  However, I think I could be effectively motivated to achieve that goal if my doctor told me that I will have a heart attack in the next year if I don't make serious changes.  It would be my over-arching will to make this happen.  Why can't I apply that discipline now?  I don't see the urgency?  One theory says that our will serves various motivations aside from reason.  Maybe my will is unreasonable.

I'm sure there's much more to be said on this subject.  What do you think?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Physically speaking

In keeping with the purported purpose of these posts (tongue twister), I have covered some aspect of spiritual, mental, and now for the Physical.  

Our physical body is incredible in its abilities and complexity.  It is the greatest gift or tool we will ever possess.  Do you view it that way?  

I have often said that the benefits of exercise cannot be overstated.  Science is continually finding out new advantages to exercise.  The 3 components of a man are all inter-related.  If one area suffers, the others do as well.  When you've got a cold, you're not very spiritual or mentally alert.  An ironic thing about exercise is that, although it expends energy, you ultimately have more energy when you do it.  I hear people say frequently that they don't have enough energy to exercise (or time, but that issue was covered in the last 2 posts).  Those people are on a downward spiral of decreasing results.  Less energy = less exercise = less energy.

Maybe your problem isn't exercise but, like me, you lack discipline with what you eat.  Food should be enjoyable, but you can definitely have too much of a good thing.  A couple of helpful phrases I've heard that come to mind are:  Food is for fuel (not just pleasure), eating is not an event (meals are often the most anticipated event of my day), hunger is OK (I think a stomach growl is an emergency).

Any other helpful tips?  I know a food log (much like what a spending log does for your budget) can be very helpful.  You may be surprised at how those 'little snacks' or seconds at the dinner table add up.  I've even heard that having a day to 'splurge' and have whatever you want can keep you on track for the rest of the week.

What do you think?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Time Matrix

Your comments, Steve, remind me of scale devised by another Steve - Stephen Covey.  He's the author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and used the descriptors of Important and Urgent in his scale (below).  It's in Habit 3, also called First Things First, and it's about time management.  He said everything we do falls into a grid with Important/Not Important on one axis and Urgent/Not Urgent on the other axis.

Covey stated that, in order to effectively manage our time, we needed FIRST to identify those things that ARE important to us.  This step is vital so that we can separate those things that aren't important out of our lives.  Quadrant 1 has to be done.  Those items are both Important and Urgent.  The other quadrants are where we have more choice about how our time is spent.  Our problem is that we are frequently drawn into Quadrant 3 (Not Important/Urgent) by what Covey calls the 'Tyranny of the Urgent'.  This quadrant consumes our time but doesn't contribute to our goals.  Obviously, Quad 4 (Not Important/Not Urgent) is a waste of time.  We need to be in Quadrant 2 (Important/Not Urgent) as often as possible.  This diagram is based on business issues, but we could replace the items in Quad 2 with Family, Health, Spiritual issues or whatever you determine to be most important in your life.  

I think this ties in well with our topic of values.  It seems to give credibility to the idea that we can make an adjustment from where we ARE spending our time to where we think we SHOULD be spending our time.  By doing a rigorous self-assessment, we can identify those areas where our belief isn't in line with our actions (or time) and adjust.  I think the diagram is a worthwhile tool to consider and use.

If you have an idea, then help me out here!