I WAS TRYING TO WORK yesterday, but I was tired. I had stayed up late and gotten up late and I felt “off.” When I realized what was happening, I decided to get back on track. I started paying attention to my work. I looked people in the eye and spoke with purpose. I decided to be a person I respect — not some victim to my feelings or circumstances, but a creator of who I am. I set a standard for myself and then lived up to it in behavior. And my feelings came around. I stopped feeling so tired. I started feeling more purposeful. But even if my feelings didn’t come around, and they sometimes don’t, it wouldn’t matter. I can look people in the eye even when I don’t feel like it.
You can do this too. It’s not like I have any great amount of self-discipline or willpower. You can set standards for yourself and then live up to those standards, even when you don’t feel like it.
Let’s not be the effect of our feelings. They change too much. Set physical standards for yourself: What you will DO, not what you will feel. Act ethically. Speak with intention. Exercise even when you don’t feel like it. You cannot choose how you will feel voluntarily, but you can always choose what you will do.
Then, regardless of your upbringing or past habits or how much you drank the night before or the argument you had with your spouse this morning, take the actions you want to take. Be who you choose to be. It’s up to you. You are what you decide you are at any given moment — not how you feel, not how you were raised. Those are defaults, like the defaults on a word processor, and can be overridden at any time by a conscious decision. On some days, your defaults may be perfectly good because the circumstances and your feelings line up to make you act exactly as you wish. But the rest of the time, you’ll have to take over the controls.
Decide how you want to act, and act that way. You create yourself.
Decide how you want to act and act that way.