Self-discipline means choosing your actions based on your decisions and goals rather than letting your emotions run the show. That’s the word for today from Tommy Newberry in 40-days to a Joy Filled Life. He states, “Self-discipline occurs in the moments when intention defeats indulgence, when mission trumps mood, and when spirit conquers sentiment.”
Without self-discipline, I am a slave to my emotions. I only do what I feel like doing. I only exercise if I feel like it. I work or goof off depending on how I feel rather than pushing through the tasks I’ve set for myself to reach important goals. According to Newberry, when I let my emotions set the agenda, a train wreck is never far away.
One effective way to push through a low mood to remain productive is acting your way into the feelings you most desire, says Newberry. “Assume the mood you would have if your greatest goal had already been achieved or your number one prayer answered,” he suggests. He insists it’s a myth that positive emotions only count if they come naturally. If you act happy, chances are you will begin to feel happy. Sitting around waiting for joy to smack you on the head can leave you waiting for a long time. Acting your way into a better mood is much more predictable.
Once again, the lesson hits home during this Pandemic. We are all dealing with a myriad of negative emotions: fear of contracting the unpredictable virus or inadvertently sharing it with those we love, dealing with the agony of the disease in ourselves or our friends and family, or the fall-out of the medical crisis for those dealing with other chronic health conditions. In addition, our daily routines have been completely disrupted. Many are isolated at home alone or dealing with the pressure of 24/7 contact with housemates, spouses, or children. We are worried about the economy and our future.
It would be so easy to sit on the couch, channel surf, eat junk food and drink too much. Margaritas with lunch anybody? After all, liquor stores are on the essential list. Most of us have been given the gift of time during all this. Time to accomplish all those things we’ve dreamed of for so long. Will we discover that all the busyness was just our excuse for never getting those things done or will we buckle down and use this gift wisely?
Some are familiar with the Apostle Paul’s statement to his prodigy Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT), “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” But, as I’ve heard it said, when you see the word “for” in scripture, you need to ask yourself what “for” is there for. In this case, Paul had just said, “This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.” God has given each of us a purpose and the spiritual gifts to fulfill that purpose. In the middle of this crisis he has given us time,opportunity and self-discipline to move toward those purposes, whether we are at home or on the front lines of the battle. There are plenty of folks who need our gifts.
Newberry’s voice comes through today as he reminds us that, not only do we have important work to do, but pushing past the emotion of the moment and fulfilling the purpose for our lives is an important way to increase joy.
The exercise for Day 31 is to identify three emotions you want to experience and three activities that will move you in the direction of those feelings, then get up and get moving!
Ready, set, GO!