“You’ve probably heard the saying that everyone is an optimist in the first hours of a diet. So when we make positive changes, take on new disciplines, or start new exercise routines or dietary regimens, we begin with enthusiasm and may even experience positive results in a relatively short time.
But inevitably, over time, we hit plateaus and find that with the peaks come valleys. Our disciplines are no longer new; they become routine (after three days or weeks or months or years). And at some point the initial passion or motivation wears thin. It’s no longer fun telling friends about our new and exciting enterprise. All that’s left is us and the daily decision to persist or not…
In this phase our old, familiar, and generally easier lifestyles call us back to the way things were. Fits of nostalgia fill our fantasy lives as doubts arise. After all, what was so bad about the way things were?
Applying willpower against the inertia of old habits is like applying friction to roll a boulder uphill; it creates psychic heat that has a purifying, empowering effect. But it burns just the same, and we hear the sire’s sweet song, urging us to go back to the familiar, to be like everyone else, to be welcomed back into the fold, to take the pressure off.
Thus, to stop engaging in a destructive habit, such as smoking or binge drinking, it isn’t enough to stop just once; we have to stop ourselves again and again, each and every time temptation arises- even when no one’s praising us or cheering us on except ourselves. At times like this, remember these words attributed to Abraham Lincoln: ‘I desire to live that if at the end, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me.’
From the transcendental view, whatever we do is perfect (no right or wrong, only consequences). We each have our own choices to make, our own lives to live. But at certain decision points, when we don’t know which path to take, it may be helpful to ask, ‘What do I want to look back on ten years from now? What if my children faced this choice? What choice would I wish for them?’
Character is revealed through the choices we make under pressure. The choices we make and the actions we take after the honeymoon is over- when motivation fades and doubts arise- are the true test of character. If our behaviors are aligned with our highest aims, despite resistance or boredom or fear, them we continue to persist just one more hour, just one more way, along the peaceful warrior’s way.” -From, “Wisdom Of The Peaceful Warrior” By: Dan Millman