Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. – Aristotle
I once was this extremely disciplined kind of person. If I said I would lose weight, I did. If I said I was going to run for 30 minutes at six am every morning, I did. If I said I would stop eating sugar, I did just that. I lost over 23 kg (over 45 pounds), I could run for two hours straight, and I did 300 crunches as part of a daily work-out. When it came to health, you could say I had reached a level of excellence.
I had a set of unnegotionable habits, which I had trained to perfection. When the alarm went off at 5:55 am, I would automatically sit up, put on my running gear and get out. And as soon as I closed the front door behind me, at exactly 6 am, I would start to run. I would be awake at 6:02 am. Creating habits came easily to me. Frankly, I did not understand other people’s struggle with them. Like the Nike slogan, I thought ‘Just Do It!’
Creating habits came easily to me, because I had an incredibly strong motivator. I was motivated by the deepest of fears, the fear not to be loved, not to be good enough. Failing was not an option, because I had to prove to everyone, and most of all me, that I was not a failure, that I was worthy of love. The thing I had more than anyone I know was will-power. The problem with will-power is that it is an exhaustible source of energy. Because of my fear, I could almost completely deplete it and literally drain myself to the point that I had little to non left and as a result developed some kind of illness that got me out the running for long enough to recharge myself, so I could start the cycle again.
In the process of transformation, I lost my main motivator. And ever since that fear was gone, the will-power trick didn’t work as it used to work, I simply couldn’t use brute force anymore. I felt steerless and as if I would never be able to implement new habits again, because every time I tried, I failed. Today, I discovered that this idea was completely ungrounded. In these past years, I successfully rewired my brain in many ways, I have mastered new ways of thinking and new ways of being. And yes, I used willpower to get there, but I did not use brute force, all I used was a pure desire to be that which I knew I already was. Love had become my main motivator, all I had to do is recognize how I can use it to move forward.
Today, a new friend asked me if I am a perfectionist and for the first time I could honestly answer that I am not, ‘but,’ I said, ‘I do have a very high standard.’ And while I said that I understood that I can finally discern the new ways from the old ways. I am ready to get back in the arena. I am ready to be a powerhouse again, to have strong determination, laser-like focus and a willingness to get out of my warm and o so comfortable bed at six in the morning in order to feel on top of the world at seven. After years of preparation, I am ready to shift gears, to make my dreams come true, the new way.
I believe the secret to making dreams come true is in being the perfect vessel for Life to flow through, to be open to receive Life and create opportunities for that to happen. It means both mind over matter and Spirit over mind. The first being the ability to master your body and direct your mind any way you want to. And the second to give way to the Great Spirit and follow inspiration wherever it leads, to be childlike in the department of faith. Mastering these traits is a matter of training and habituation.
What I will do is simple. Every day, I will walk at least half an hour, I will sit behind my computer for two hours straight and stand before my easle for one hour with the intention of Spirit to flow through me. That’s it. And after each success, whether I have walked fast or slow, whether I have written a thousand words or none, finished a painting or haven’t even dipped my brush in paint, I will celebrate and reward myself any way I want, because I am on my way to wherever this wonderful Life is leading me.
photo by Sky_24