Have you ever decided to start a new eating or exercise regimen from Monday? Or promised yourself that this week is the last week you will use swear words in public? Well I have…I have made these “contracts” with myself over and over again! And with mixed results…I did some mental mathematics and can say that I have a 50-50 success-failure ratio.

So, you might ask: what contributes to the success? And what causes failure? Osho provides the answer very elegantly when he says

Willing something is the opposite of enjoying it! The easiest way to stop doing something, stop enjoying it…is to will it.

And this has been my experience too! For 2 years now, I have had a morning routine that I did not like. Mostly, I would get up and straight away make breakfast – then would read the newspaper or check message as I ate it. This morning routine was too rushed for me. I felt that my day got started without me taking care of myself. I made many attempts to do something different and they did not work. It was because I was willing it! “I have to work out in the morning”, “It is good for me”, “I should do something healthier” – this is how the self-talk sounded inside my head. I had built up expectations, piled on judgment and there was blame & shame. I had even made myself a victim in my story and become angry with others for stopping me from doing what was “good” for me.

When I heard Osho say those words, it stopped me in my tracks! I was squeezing the joy out of my morning routine in both scenarios: when I willed myself to a morning walk or practice, I was reluctant and hard on myself. And when I made the breakfast first, I was unable to enjoy it fully because I was guilty about missing a workout! There was no way to be successful here at all.

So I decided to just drop the very idea of a routine over summer and start at the beginning by observing what was joyful to me! When I wake up, I like to wake up without an alarm and then have a few minutes to stretch, savor the last bits of my sleep-wake feelings & thoughts and then I literally can spring into my day. Not having those few minutes makes me feel out of sorts all day. So these days, I begin my day with joy! And guess what: I am working out every morning. Can you believe it?  And moreover if I do miss a day, oh well, I just get back on track the next day.  Yes?

My first epiphany is truly seeing the joylessness of willing something “good” into your life. The second epiphany is that when you do something because it feels good and joyful, you just keep doing it. And when you keep doing something that makes you happy or healthy or both, it is a discipline.

What a beautiful way to kick off the second half of the year!  My incredible summer has left me with one last precious gift – an ode to discipline!