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Does Less Discipline Equal More Freedom?

Does Less Discipline Equal More Freedom?

Most of us think that more discipline relates to less freedom. The common line of thought is that discipline equals structure, which removes freedom.

This is what most of us think about the relationship between discipline and freedom:

    We assume that there is a correlation between the two ideas. More discipline results in less freedom.

    There is some logic to this thinking, but it’s false logic. If we were building houses, for example, freedom without discipline would offer some unusual results like these:

        People are randomly building homes without considering rules or geometry.

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        Without considering math and the laws of physics, these houses can’t sustain their own weight. Absolute freedom means that they can’t withstand wind or water. They are always a second away from collapse.

        How discipline frees you

          If the people who had built their homes had used a little more discipline, the houses would still be standing. Instead of dealing with the aftermath of collapse, they’d be living comfortable lives in their stable homes.

          This way of thinking about discipline is explained in the book, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink. Willink is a retired Navy SEAL. His impressive military career spanned 20 years and earned him many commendations. After retirement, Willink founded Echelon Front, a business geared toward teaching the principles that made a successful SEAL. His book details his leadership philosophy. He states,

          Although discipline demands control and asceticism, it actually results in freedom.

          Discipline allows you to practice the daily habits that get you the things you want. For example, when you have the self-discipline to wake up early, you get more free time. If you are disciplined enough to save your money, then you have the cash to take a vacation or make a big purchase that you’ve been wanting.

          Exercising some self-control can go a long way toward getting you the things you want.

          The boundaries for freedom

          Wandering around with no plan may work well for unstructured vacation time, but it’s not going to help you achieve your goals. Setting boundaries for yourself enables you to develop the discipline that will give you the true freedom you crave.

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          Set rules to build habits

          The right framework can help you build a concrete house on horizontal land. Life isn’t always going to make it easy to get what you want. You may have to put structures in place to help you accomplish your goals.

            Left to your own devices, you’d probably waste a lot of time and lose productivity. By setting some rules for yourself, you can create a framework that builds habits.

            Habits are automatic. If you develop positive habits, you’ll be able to do things that are good for you without thinking about it too much. Deciding that you are waking up early every morning and holding yourself to that standard eventually leads you to get up early naturally.

            Having a framework for a formal report holds you accountable for its quality and helps you finish the work faster. With no standards, you might turn in sloppy work, or it might take you a long time to complete a simple task.

            Bend the rules when you need to

            You can make a different style of house that can be built on a slope based on the same framework. While the appearance may have changed, the function is the same.

              The rules that you set for yourself aren’t meant to burden you. They’re just guidelines to help you stay on track. They may cause you a little discomfort, like when your alarm goes off and you don’t feel like getting up. You’ll quickly recover from this minor inconvenience, though.

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              Discipline is supposed to help you do things in a better way, but you should never feel trapped by it. You can follow your own rules, but you may need to bend those rules in certain situations.

              For example, if you have to hand in your report to someone different, you might have to change your style to meet their standards. You’re still using discipline to get things done, but you’re still free to adapt your work.

              Fighting against freedom’s true enemy

              Freedom through discipline requires you to break your bad habits. Whether it’s sleeping in too late, failing to make a plan, or neglecting your health, you can change the things that are keeping you from true freedom.

              1. Remove the triggers for your bad habits

              Habits are hard to break because they come naturally to us. Identify where you need more structure, and make sticking to your plan the easy answer.

              Imagine that you want to get into better shape so that you don’t feel tired all the time. You notice that you always feel too exhausted at night to work out, and you never get up early enough to go to the gym in the morning.

              It’s time to stop making excuses and start acting. Pack your gym bag the night before, and train your body to wake up early enough to work out. You can’t use the excuse of not having enough time or not having the right gear. It’s already ready to go.

              2. Reward yourself for doing the right things

              Setting up a system of rewards and punishments keeps you accountable. Train yourself to maintain discipline by rewarding good behavior and punishing actions that keep you from your goals.

              Your rewards and punishments don’t have to be huge and complicated. They just need to be enough to make you want to form good habits and stay away from bad patterns of behavior.

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              3. Track your behavior

              You might not even realize when you’re doing something that keeps you from being free. Develop ways to track your behavior.

              Jocko Willink recommends making a schedule or task list for yourself and sticking to it.[1] When you do this, you prioritize what needs to happen every day. If you notice that you’re neglecting certain aspects of your life by not completing your task list, you can make changes.

              Chances are, if you hadn’t made a list for yourself, you may not have even noticed what you were missing.

              Reach new level of freedom

              Doing whatever you want all the time isn’t real freedom, but you don’t have to be stuck. It may feel good in the short term to wake up whenever you want, procrastinate, and avoid things that will make you better and stronger, but that thinking will trap you.

              Developing discipline can help you reach new levels of physical, mental, and financial freedom. We need a little bit of order to make sense of the chaos. Build the structures that are going to take you to the next level and help you weather the storm.

              The best part about developing discipline is that it can start whenever you want. If you’re ready to change your life, grab a piece of paper and write out your plan! There’s no better time to start than the present.

              Reference

              More by this author

              Leon Ho

              Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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              Last Updated on September 16, 2019

              How to Practice Meditation for Anxiety and Stress Relief

              How to Practice Meditation for Anxiety and Stress Relief

              Anxiety and stress are often difficult to simply ignore. Maybe you think you’ve tried everything to alleviate them, and nothing has worked. Maybe you have underlying issues connected with anxiety and stress, and it is hard to both treat the symptoms and the cause.

              Have you tried, really tried, meditating for some relief?

              You don’t have to be some guru in order to meditate. You don’t have to always do it perfectly. You don’t even have to do it the same way each time.

              The most important thing is that you meet yourself where you are at. You must show self-compassion. You must lead the meditation with that intent. You are giving to yourself so that you may be able to give better. You will notice a change in your awareness of self if you start with this in mind.

              Can Meditation Reduce Anxiety?

              Meditation CAN reduce anxiety, but how long does it take for it to be effective? The answer is as simple as it is complex:

              You must lose yourself in order to find yourself.

              When you lose yourself in the meditation, the anxiety and stress will be relieved. You will be completely present. You will be completely aware of what is happening right now rather than what you are stressing over.

              What Is Meditation for Anxiety?

              Meditation is about mindfulness NOT mind-FULL-ness. See image by The Happiness Project:

                Starting in mindfulness or conscious awareness of something, you can begin by focusing on something specific. You can focus on what is around you, a preferred topic or thought or a mantra. The important part is that you stay present or aware of yourself in the moment.

                Meditation is a lifestyle, not just a momentary and fleeting escape from what worries you. It’s self care at its finest.

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                Meditation is where you bring your imperfection and your mess and you sit down and admit, “I don’t know what I’m doing.” It is not for perfection. It is not for having it all together. It is for being human, in all your vulnerability. It’s admitting you don’t have all the answers. It’s admitting you aren’t always living your truth.

                It’s being welcomed into the stillness, into the moment or present state of being that you start to listen to answers. That anxiety or that stress is trying to pull you apart. The mindfulness and meditation you practice is about putting yourself together again, piece by piece.

                In the not knowing, you wait for the Knowing to show up.

                In the not being whatever you want to be, you wait for the Being to present itself.

                In the losses, you wait for the Lessons.

                Underneath the anxiety and stress is a lack of stillness. You can argue for any mental health diagnosis and all would still fit the bill for a lack of stillness. It’s not negating what doctors may be telling you to do, it’s simply another way that you can destress.

                It starts with breathing.

                Breathe

                Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. One hand should be on your chest and the other on your belly. When you breathe in, your belly should get bigger. And vice versa.[1]

                Breathe in the positive. Breathe out the negative.

                Breathe in the meditative state you wish to be in. Breathe out the state you are.

                Breathe in the mantra you’d like to say to yourself. Breathe out its opposite.

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                Breathe in the relaxation. Breathe out the tension (for tension relief, a body scan meditation can be utilized where you release tension using breath for each part of the body doing a full body scan until relaxed.)

                It’s about centering yourself. Grounding yourself.

                You can do it with eyes open or closed. That part doesn’t matter. You choose.

                Anxiety and stress will start to subside the more you lose yourself in the meaning of the moment. No longer are you about what you are doing. You are about who you are being. Chose positive terms for that being:

                I am light. I am empowerment. I am prosperity. I am love.

                Breathe that in too.

                This is a safe space. Meditation is a safe space where you can admit your flaws and ask the universe for help overcoming them. You come with a question, you get an answer.

                This helps settle yourself down because anxiety and stress often lead us to impulsivity or rash decision making skills. It helps to relieve the stress so you can deal with the stressors. It helps subside the anxiety so you can get to the root cause.

                In the silence, things come up. That’s what makes meditation scary for many people. It’s much harder to approach than it looks. It asks for a willingness to take the mask off; some never do.

                The Mayo Clinic recommends it as well in the article Meditation: A Simple, Fast Way to Reduce Stress:[2]

                “Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. Meditation originally was meant to help deepen understanding of the sacred and mystical forces of life. These days, meditation is commonly used for relaxation and stress reduction.”

                Medical conditions worsened by stress such as depression, headaches and anxiety can also be improved by meditation. The best part? Anyone can do it!

                Follow a Guided Meditation

                If you find yourself having a difficult time focusing, don’t punish yourself. Gently draw yourself back. If you are prone to losing focus of the moment or positive thoughts, try a guided meditation where all you need to do is listen to a soothing voice guide you through it.

                There are a ton of guided meditations online. Here’s one I recommend:

                 

                If meditation had a slogan, this would probably be it:

                Disconnect from the world. Reconnect with yourself.

                Sit, Breathe, Forget Your Woes, Call the Answer Up, Breathe, Sit.

                That would be the sections of meditation listed as those as the steps.

                You start by sitting somewhere. It can be anywhere. Pick a time of day to do this consistently (or at random, up to you). Be somewhere in some room you can focus. Breathe in and out your mantras. Forget what is ailing you or triggering you to have anxiety and stress. And call the answer.

                What happens when clarity overcomes us? Anxiety and stress no longer do.

                Why is this effective? Meditation has only been scientifically studied for a few decades but, according to The Washington Post on mindfulness meditation: [3]

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                “Some of the most impressive studies to date involve a treatment called mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, which combines meditation with psychotherapy to help patients deal with thoughts that lead to depression. Randomized controlled trials have shown that the approach significantly reduces the risk of depression relapse in individuals who have previously had three or more major depressive episodes.”

                How Often Should You Meditate for Anxiety?

                Meditation can be done daily as a preventative practice or simply every time anxiety and stress occurs. Some people meditate while they’re in their rooms for as long as they like or throughout the day in bits such as when they are waiting in traffic, watching a sunset, preparing for a speech, etc.

                How often can you practice meditation? The truth is as often as you’d like.

                Final Thoughts

                Anxiety or stress doesn’t have to control or own you. You can start today by giving it to the meditation. If you find yourself with a wandering mind, give it time. With more practice in meditation, you will be able to feel it working for you. Your questions will be answered. Your happiness will be held onto. Your negative thoughts will diminish.

                All you have to do is show up.

                Show up to the meditation and it will change your life. Rather than acting on the anxiety or stress, you learn to listen to it. And that is the best lesson of all.

                You get what you give, and in this case, the more you give to the meditation (of your thoughts and worries), the more it will serve you.

                The best part? You can customize it to work for you. You pick when, you pick where, you pick how long and to what extent. You pick what thoughts to give it, you pick how much anxiety or stress to let it cleanse.

                Cleanse it will. Because in that silence, or guided meditation, is your safe space. And while you may not know what you are doing sometimes in life, here you have all the power.

                Good luck!

                More About Meditation

                Featured photo credit: Cristian Newman via unsplash.com

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                Reference

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