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Posts Tagged ‘Discipline’

A few days ago I had a conversation with a guy about getting back into shape, who said, “I don’t like running by myself. I need the motivation of running with someone.” I told him that I have run by myself for years since I never had anyone to run with, barring a few short stints. The conversation got me to thinking about what motivated me to run. Afterall, I am OK with running, but I certainly don’t love it. My motivation is a desire to stay in shape cardio vascularly speaking so that I can do the things I want to do, like hiking, playing with grandchildren, and approaching a climbing area. I don’t have the time or opportunity to do any of those things regularly enough to stay in shape that way. Running can be done on a local greenway or in the neighborhood where I work during lunch or around the house or at the local school track for a short period of time about three times a week, or simply, where and when I have time.

The questions that occurred to me were the following:

What is the difference in desire and motivation? Do desire and motivation overlap, and if so, at what points?

I start with definitions, not because I have no more creativity or original thoughts, but because many words and ideas have become confused, switched, and overlapped when they are actually distinct. For example, we say, “I feel guilty”, when guilt is a judicial problem, not a feeling. In reality, we should say, “I feel shame” about my guilt. I can almost feel some people’s response: “You know what is meant. What’s the big deal?” Well, guilty feelings, shame, may or may not follow guilt. Understanding the difference between a legitimate or false feeling and legitimate or false problem helps one to see the way forward in resolving either or both. If the problem is guilt, one needs to seek out forgiveness. If the problem is shame apart from unforgiven guilt, one needs to accept forgiveness already tendered, and forgive self. (1)

Desire is a longing or craving. Motivation is an incentive or drive.

So, it seems reasonable to say that desire is a feeling and motivation is a compelling cause behind the feeling. Where it seems to get complicated or confused is the source of the motivation. Feelings are internal, but motivation can be either internal or external. For example, running with others is clearly an external motivation. However, is it driven by a feeling or an internal motivation? Fear of being alone or desire to be with others are feelings, but they are also motivators because they push one to do certain things. But this just reversed the cause and effect in that now feeling is driving the motivation.

Desire can be an internal motivation, but so may cold logic about what is beneficial. And there may be a feedback loop where a desire causes a motivation and a motivation causes a desire. This feedback loop may be positive, more motivation produces more desire produces more motivation, etc. Or it may be negative in that a certain desire kills motivation which kills desire, etc.

It is at this point that the confused or credulous reader might ask what the usefulness of this mental exercise has been. If you know what motivation, internal or external is behind your desire, or conversely what desire is behind your motivation, you may be able to substitute other motivations or desires to change a negative feedback loop into a positive one.

For example, perhaps you are in the “Exercise Protection Program” as a friend of mine likes to say. The thought of exercise demotivates you. You consider all of the downsides of exercise: sweating, soreness, time, effort, ability deficiency. That kills any desire you have to exercise. If instead, you could focus on upsides of exercise: cardiovascular fitness, strength and coordination gains, body purifying aspects, goals you may set, good changes to your body you will observe. That grows you desire to exercise. Realizing even a few of the benefits further increases you desire, which is a further motivator to continue.

Which one comes first, desire or motivation? Some external push, a motivator, might get you started trying to learn a new skill like playing the guitar. But would you have begun if it did not touch on a desire you had to grow in that area or in general? Conversely, some internal pull, a desire, grows within you to stop, for example, speeding on the highway. Would you have that desire if you had not been motivated by hearing of a wreck or ticket or moral imperative to obey the law?

My intermediate conclusion to this discussion is that motivations include all external and internal influences. Desires are those types of motivations that are internal and sometimes first causes. (2) We can interject motivations that will change our course. Surround yourself with people who will cheer you one, or focus on outcomes that are beneficial, or pursue diligence until you acclimate to the desire for the activity. These are ways you may interject new energy into your desires and motivations.

  1. Sometime my examples or asides become the focus because a full explanation is needed for them to make sense. So much for brevity, conciseness, and clarity.
  2. THE First Cause of all things is God, but here I mean a first cause within the individual that comes from the will of that person unprovoked by outside influences. I do not here refer to moral freedom. I believe we have moral freedom, but there is a problem. Our natures are totally depraved. We always choose what we want to do, but our choice apart from the Holy Spirit of God is always wrong and in rebellion against God, since our nature compels us to do wrong. God, being totally sovereign rules over all outcomes and inputs, and we as moral agents work within the framework of His will and purpose.

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You are right or left hand dominant because of genetics, right?

When I was six years old, my oldest brother began to teach me how to play baseball. It was simple catch at first. I wanted a glove. My brother seemed to think that I threw as well with my left hand as with my right hand. He insisted that I should throw left-handed. I got a left-hand glove. He said lefties make pitchers who are harder to hit off of and make good 1st basemen. I was learning to write, shoot basketball, eat with a fork and pick up a cup with my right hand, and kick balls with my right foot. I definitely had right hand preference, not only because of the many everyday things I do right-handed, but also because fine motor skills are much more developed in my right hand. I definitely do not consider myself to be ambidextrous, but here I am throwing baseballs, footballs, and skipping rocks with my left hand and doing everything else right-handed.

As time has progressed I have learned to hammer nails and split wood with either hand. I hammer more accurately right-handed but go at it left-handed sometimes in order rest my right. The inside of my wrist on my right forearm has a muscular budge missing on the left wrist from pounding nails and wedges. Learning a skill with the other hand is tedious and sometimes dangerous. I split wood with both hands simultaneously, but the hand on top is the preference and lead hand. For the sake of working longer and working both sides of my body, and particularly my back, I alternate hands.

Which leg of your pants do you step into first, right or left? Which arm of your shirt or blouse do you put on first, left or right? Which way do you cross your legs or fold your arms or clasp your hands? Which one is on top? You have a preference, a handedness, a brain side preference.*

But you can change the level or preference and the balance of strength and coordination. In a number of sports and skills, equal strength and grace are needed by both hands and both sides of the body. Try putting the opposite leg into your pants first. It is hugely awkward the first few times you do it, but with time you feel more coordinated. I alternate regularly. Cross your arms or legs or fingers the opposite way. It feels weird but makes new connections in your brain as you practice it.

There are some things I will not try both ways for safety reasons. I tie my rope and belay when climbing the same way every time so that I may do it correctly without thought in an urgent situation. For the belayer these situations are frequent. As a result, I can and do have conversations while belaying and still catch my partner every time. But climbing requires strength, coordination, and flexibility in all four limbs and in many combinations. That takes work. I can only imagine how a good dancer or ice skater leads into a move with equal grace on either leg. A good pianist must be able to play the melody and complex harmonies with either hand and trade back and forth as the score of music demands. These activities and many others require practice and consideration.

Here is another childhood story that applies to my three brothers and me. Our mother taught her young sons to put their belts on clockwise, that is, starting through the loop right of the button. Traditionally in the U.S., men wear their belts counterclockwise and women wear their belts clockwise. Supposedly this originated with women dressing their men and men opening cloaks to draw swords. I did not know all of this detail until I was challenged as to why I wore my belt “backwards”. Now to increase coordination, I wear my belt both ways, alternating from one day to the next.

So, handedness is definitely genetically gifted but is environmentally altered and may be altered and attenuated by intentional effort. As I have argued here, I think it is useful to strength, coordination, grace, flexibility, and skill to do so.

*The right hand is operated by the left brain and visa-versa.

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“Write it down so that you won’t forget.” My son replied, “You write it down for me. You’re better at making list.” I had never thought about it. I just write lists because I have to get chores done and fit in recreation. So, it is true that I have developed somewhat of a list making procedure. It is not complicated or profound, for if it was, it would only make getting things done less likely. I understand calendars, planners, cellphone notifications and the like, but for various reasons they don’t quite work for me. Mostly they don’t work  for me because they are cumbersome and elsewhere when I need them.

I make lists on little pieces of paper that I cut from recycled paper. I have the privilege of using a paper cutter and a little filing box in which to store blank ones that sits on the kitchen counter. I have three types of lists: daily, weekly (mid-range), and long-term. I don’t always have all three or even two, depending on what is happening, but frequently I do. Now, you may not see the wisdom in this separation of lists, thinking, “How does that exclude complexity and facilitate availability and convenience?”  Well, I make the list on the run, stick it in whatever pocket of whatever pants or shirt I happen to be wearing and update it as tasks are completed, change, or need to be added. Just as you transfer keys and wallet when you change clothes, I move the list, too. For easier viewing of the list, so I don’t overlook an item, and in order to show progress and completion, I bullet the items with a blank. Additionally, I indent sub-items with a blank, “grocery lists” and the like.

I give an example by way of a recent daily list in the picture below. As an item is completed, I place a check in the blank, as shown for weeding, P, and going on a run. If an item is in progress, for example, an attempted phone call or message left, I place a tally mark in the blank. You can see that on the second attempt I mark complete and the time of the appointment, which I transferred to the family calendar on the kitchen counter at the first available opportunity. The same sequence occurred for the e-mail. I must have wanted a reply before I marked it complete. Zeph had two tallies on this Monday, as I was in the process of studying for a sermon (which you may listen to at “The Day of the Lord in Zephaniah” ). I had one tally mark next to comfrey,  because I had begun to root a cutting so that someone else could benefit from the healing properties of comfrey by having a plant just outside their door as I do. I am not a slave to my lists. I did not continue to tally this item because the circumstances quickly enabled me to remember to water the cutting daily. In two weeks it was standing upright in the pot and I took it to its new owner with instructions for planting it. It rained that day and I was not able to mow, so I decided to try again on Wednesday. I could not make an appointment with Dr. O because she was out of town for the whole week. 

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A Daily List

By the end of the day, I had more items on the list completed, but rarely do I complete all items. On occasions when I do finish a list, I celebrate. I’m not into purposefully making short, easy lists so I get to celebrate more. I simply have too much to accomplish. Therefore, to reduce clutter, I make a new daily list that will include the few items that did not get done. Items like Dr. O get put on a mid-range list for later completion. Bills that need to be paid by some due date, perhaps within a month or longer, and maintenance items are listed on the long term list, part of the infamous “honey do” list, which is either the calendar or a slip of paper with the calendar. If very little of the list is done, I just add a few items and reuse it the next day.

Some readers of the this blog entry will think the whole idea of writing about lists is silly. However, a few people may pick up some hints about how to organize their lives. It is not the exact method that is the point but what works efficiently for you. Use what you can; ignore what you can’t. Secondly, I decided quite some time ago that I would blog about what interested me and about daily life. This blog entry satisfies both ends. Thirdly, I intend my blog to be a journal and open book of who I am and who I am becoming. I frequently give glory to God in my blog entries, not because I think it is an “ought” or “should”, but because I am so thankful for God’s work to regenerate, redeem, and reform me. Becoming a a disciplined, efficient, thoughtful person are characteristics I hope He is working in me for His glory and the mutual good of my neighbor and me. A life well thought out is well lived, and that is best done with a starting point of “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Proverbs 9:10 

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Overflows from the Heart

"But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart…" Matthew 15:18

CreatorWorship

Pointing to the One who made, saved, and sustains