Monthly Archives: May 2009


a small child learns self discipline through aikido, a type of martial artskerr cuhulain is my favourite wiccan author so i was delighted to find out he now has a blog. kerr cuhulain believes in cultivating virtues (he calls them codes of chivalry), and proposes to focus on a specific one every month.

may is related to self discipline.  in thinking about that, i looked around the net to see what others have to say about it.

for example, alfi questions the ideas behind self discipline, especially in a teaching context, and  peter bankart compares western psychotherapy with buddhist approaches, linking the concept of self-discipline to right effort.

but as so often, steve pavlina takes the cake.  i don’t know why i don’t read his blog more often (hm, would that be part of self discipline?) – the guy is a genius in the way he clarifies concepts and encourages action.  he has a whole series on self-discipline.

here he compares the development of self discipline to developing muscle.

if you can only lift 10 lbs, you can only lift 10 lbs. there’s no shame in starting where you are. i recall when i began working with a personal trainer several years ago, on my first attempt at doing a barbell shoulder press, i could only lift a 7-lb bar with no weight on it. my shoulders were very weak because i’d never trained them. but within a few months i was up to 60 lbs.

similarly, if you’re very undisciplined right now, you can still use what little discipline you have to build more. the more disciplined you become, the easier life gets. challenges that were once impossible for you will eventually seem like child’s play. as you get stronger, the same weights will seem lighter and lighter.

don’t compare yourself to other people. it won’t help. you’ll only find what you expect to find. if you think you’re weak, everyone else will seem stronger. if you think you’re strong, everyone else will seem weaker. there’s no point in doing this. simply look at where you are now, and aim to get better as you go forward.

oh, and when i was about ready to post list little entry, i checked out @spiver on twitter today, who is working on a self-discipline project for a month.  among other things, she offers this quote by david allen, of getting things done fame:

stress comes from breaking your commitments to yourself

okay, i’m going to get off the computer now and do some things i have promised myself to do.

what about you?

image by felipe vieira

morita therapy, the psychology of action

once in a while i tell people that the name of my company is moritherapy and they say, “oh yes, i know moritherapy!” what they usually mean is morita therapy.

it’s about time i explore what that is. the information here comes from the ToDo institute.

morita therapy is sometimes referred to as the psychology of action.

morita psychotherapy was developed by japanese psychiatrist shoma morita in the early part of the twentieth century. he was influenced by the psychological principles of zen buddhism. his method was initially developed as a treatment for a type of anxiety called shinkeishitsu but in the latter part of this century the applications of morita therapy have broadened.

if we find out we have won the lottery, we may be excited. if we hear about the death of a friend, we may feel sadness. such feelings are natural responses and we need not try to change or “work through” them. this is acceptance of reality as it is (arugamama).

thus, if we feel depressed, we accept our feelings of depression; if we feel anxious, we accept our feelings of anxiety. we can then direct our efforts toward living our life well, coexisting with unpleasant feelings from time to time. it is not necessary to change our feelings in order to take action.

“trying to control the emotional self willfully by manipulative attempts is like trying to choose a number on a thrown die or to push back the water of the kamo river upstream. certainly, they end up aggravating their agony and feeling unbearable pain because of their failure in manipulating the emotions.”
shoma morita, m.d.

often, taking action leads to a change in feelings. for example, it is common to develop confidence after one has repeatedly done something with some success.

in western psychotherapy there are a great many labels which purport to diagnose and describe a person’s psychological functioning – depressed, obsessive, compulsive, codependent. many of us begin to label ourselves this way, rather than investigate our own experience. if we observe our experience, we find that we have a flow of awareness which changes from moment to moment. when we become overly preoccupied with ourselves, our attention no longer flows freely, but becomes trapped by an unhealthy self-focus. the more we pay attention to our symptoms (our anxiety, for example) the more we fall into this trap.

when we are absorbed by what we are doing, we are not anxious because our attention is engaged by activity. but when we try to “understand” or “fix” or “work through” feelings and issues, our self-focus is heightened and exercised. this often leads to more suffering rather than relief. how can we be released from such self-focused attention?

“the answer lies in practicing and mastering an attitude of being in touch with the outside world. this is called a reality-oriented attitude, which means, in short, liberation from self-centeredness.”
takahisa kora, m.d.

the successful student of morita therapy learns to accept the fluctuations of thoughts and feelings and ground her or his behavior in reality and the purpose of the moment. cure is not defined by the alleviation of discomfort or the attainment of an ideal feeling state but by taking constructive action, which helps with living a full and meaningful existence and not being ruled by emotions.

what do you think?  would this sort of therapy work for you?

in defense of “trying”

yodathe word “trying” has a bad rap. why?

yoda said, “do, or do not. there is no try“. there is the idea that “trying” is associated with excuses, that trying comes just before failing, that trying implies no commitment, etc.

fair enough.

here are my points:

what does try mean?

let’s start by looking at some definitions of “try”:

  • to examine or investigate judicially
  • to put to test
  • to make an attempt

trying and commitment

when i google the word “trying”, the first site after the definition is trying to conceive. that’s interesting. all the women i know who are or have been “trying to conceive” are very, very committed to the process. one person i know spent eight years until she found what was working for her and her husband – and lots of blood, sweat and tears, not to mention dollars. i don’t think that there is a lack of commitment, or that “trying” stands for making lame excuses.

try and persistence

the last request in the extended version of the serenity prayer says

… and the strength to get up and try again, one day at a time.

trying, honest, earnest trying, requires strength. “trying” may make some people think of excuses – it often makes me think of persistence. “if at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again” and again, and again, and again.

trying as a process – example: quitting smoking

in addition to parents who try to conceive, another “trying” comes to mind: research shows that most people who successfully quit smoking have tried a number of times before they succeed. that was certainly true for me. interestingly enough, my first attempt or two were not overly committed. but the desire to quit grew over time. i honestly don’t know what the outcome would have been had someone said to me that trying isn’t good enough.

so what about yoda?

now i don’t want to diss yoda. i have a soft spot for him (you can even find him on my bathroom altar) so i want to take him seriously. in the snippet in question, luke says to yoda, with a dejected eeyore type of voice, “ok, i’ll try.” when yoda says, “do. or do not” i think the point is more about confidence than about dismissing the idea of trying wholeheartedly.

suffering from a lack of confidence (which, often enough, is truly a form of suffering) or simple being half-assed is something that you can do without invoking the concept of trying. i know enough people who say, “i’ll commit myself to … (losing weight, exercising, writing that letter, etc.)” and still don’t do it.

so leave the word “try” alone already.

(or go another route – try [!] the concept of “allowing“).

image by orange_beard

saying grace

carrotsthere were a number of posts recently about saying grace, for example at maggi dawn’s blog. “why say grace in a world without god?” seemed to be one of the questions. also, “how to say grace without thanking god?”

for today, i will spare you my grumblings about interpretations of who or what god is. i’m just going to give a few gratitudes for the humble carrot i had in my soup today:

  • to the cashier who rung it in
  • to my daughter who carried it up the stairs
  • to the many people who built the fridge where it cooled – or rather, the fridges – three or four at least, i’m sure
  • to the grocery clerk who put it on display
  • to the grocery clerk’s teacher who taught her how to handle food safely
  • to the truck drivers who carted my carrot all over the place
  • to the friendly waitress who kept the truck driver supplied with coffee
  • to the factory worker who made the cellophane bag for the carrot
  • to the mechanic who fixed the carrot farmer’s tractor
  • to the worms who made good earth for the carrot

all good people (and worms) to say thanks to.

image by color line

twitter rant

twitterokay, guys ‘n’ gals, i gotta get this off my chest.

as you know, i’m an avid twitter (over) user.  i love it.  and there are two things that have made me roll my eyes quite a bit lately.   it’s easier to pontificate on this on a blog, so i’m using this platform.  (as you can see, i already have way over 140 characters).


when you reply to someone, be specific.  how am i supposed to know what you’re talking about when i get a @reply that says, “that was great!”  WHAT was great?  if you’re afraid of the 140-character limit, one or two words will usually be enough.  for example, i could reply to robert hruzek from middle zone musings fame by saying, “right on re transparency!” and he’ll know what i’m talking about.

or you could do what i just did – you could include the link to the actual individual tweet.  you do this by clicking on the timestamp right underneath the tweet.  then you get something like vancouver’s famous miss 604’s tweet asking for links to events in vancouver.

DMs – direct messages

and the other thing?  impersonal, spammy direct messages or DMs.  direct messages show up in my email inbox, so it better be something that’s directly related to me as a person.  not as a consumer.  please DO NOT auto DM me, or send me a DM if i don’t know you to give me a “gift” of a video that plugs your ideas/services/product.  margaret mason has a good article on how to use twitter politely, including the use of DMs. pete quily is a great example of someone using DMs intelligently.  that’s pete from ADD strengths (the world’s best blog about ADD/ADHD – attention deficit disorder, or as i like to call it “the gift of chaotic attention”).

oh, and why do i give you all the links to these people?  is it just link bait?   i don’t think so.  it’s all about making connections.  that’s what social media is about.  making meaningful connections.  please help your fellow tweeple understand the connections.  tell them what you’re replying to.  and when you want to make a new connection, it really isn’t that difficult.  impersonal, meaningless DMs irritate me; retweeting and replying will get my positive attention.