A while back, one of the goofy folks who lives in my house discovered a website that provides sound bites of famous people saying the fun things that famous people say.
We spent many happy minutes at this site. We soon found a favorite: the sage words of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The best of the best? Him shouting "You lack discipline." We laughed and laughed, then went back to looking for other dumb stuff on the internet rather than doing anything productive or meaningful.
Last week I mentioned that my theme this Lent is "Speak Lord, your servant is listening." So we're a week into the season here, and I discovered that once I removed my fingers from my ears and stopped chanting "I'm not listening, I'm not listening" the Lord had plenty to say to me.
I lack discipline.
I think I have discovered something profound and life-changing here, people. I lack discipline. It's real gold, the key to all my troubles.
They say that recognizing you have a problem is the first step in making real change. OK, fine. I'm admitting it here. I am so lacking in the ability to control myself.
I do fairly well when I am given a set of standards, rules to follow. But left on my own, I stink. I just can't seem to get a handle on that most important type of control: SELF control.
It's why I eat too much, drink too much, talk too much. It's why I spend hours on facebook rather than doing research for an article. It's why I started to write this post, got sucked into an episode of "Ten Years Younger" and ended up spending 60 bucks on a pair of red pumps at zappos.com before returning to finish writing. (Honey, if you're reading this, when you see these shoes you're going to agree that I really, really needed them.)
What was I saying? Maybe I also have adult ADHD, but that's another story.
So what do I do? I'm tempted to do what I always do when I discover some real or imagined fault in myself: eat an entire package of Dove dark chocolate bliss and wash it down with a bottle of merlot. Just kidding. (sorta...) Actually I'm tempted to devise a very complicated "improvement plan" that will include all sorts of constraints on my thoughts and behavior. I will forbid myself to do anything I might even remotely enjoy. Doesn't that sound smart?
Obviously I've found this method to be less than effective, so I'm going to try something new this time. I feel rather like an alcoholic chanting the "one day at a time" mantra. There is true wisdom there. If I bite off more than I can chew, I'll just end up choking.
The path to self-discipline? Must start with something simple. So this morning I got up early, when I wanted to stay in bed. Then I took Sophie for a walk, instead of surfing the net. Later I had a Lean Cuisine for lunch, and ate only two handfulls of Wheat Thins, rather than half the box.
The best decision though, the one that will surely teach me the most? I went to Mass. Received Jesus in the Eucharist, and just sat there for a minute and said "Speak Lord, your servant is listening."
He told me I lack discipline.
But He also told me He'd help me find a way to improve.
Anybody else struggling with this? I'd love to hear how you are conquering the out-of-control in your life.