The road to delight is seldom fun: sparked by desire, duty and discipline bedeck the pathway.
2021 began with my daughter setting her sights on getting her weight down four dress sizes in nine months. Three months in, she is 3 dress sizes down. The progression of her exercise habit, her sheer tenacity, and the pleasure she derives from the process intrigued me. The joy of profound delight best describes her transformation.
To get to delight, though, you require three elements: Desire, Duty, and Discipline.
Desire is the trigger
When we want something enough, we often imagine how the outcome will improve us - the imagined satisfaction of running a marathon, writing a book, or losing weight. Without the yearning to propel us to the starting line, we remain in a state of inertia, continuously hoping yet unable to begin.
Our imagination reinforces our desire, prompting us to start; until we quickly realize that what we thought was a cinch is a disguise for duty.
Duty begins with a commitment but is sustained by accountability.
When my daughter began her fitness journey, she announced her target: 20,000 steps, six days a week, starting 4th Jan 2021. It seemed an ambitious target, yet three months down the road, she has been consistent and not missed a day. A commitment goes beyond desire.
Duty is commitment in action and requires a stated intention, a time frame, and an activity to perform. B.J. Foggs simplifies this further in Tiny Habits as,
Tiny is Mighty
Commitment often starts with a tiny habit.
A fitness aspirant? Start with wearing your exercise clothes.
A writer? Open your laptop or notebook
A reader? Read that first line.
And as B.J. Foggs recommends, incorporating this into your existing routine provides a place to plant a new habit.
Do this repeatedly, and it compounds into a discipline.
Discipline demands practice
Where duty lays the foundation, discipline is assembling the building blocks of consistent practice and persistent routine. Discipline produces internal development eschewing external consumption.
Learn the rules, test them, make mistakes, and learn from your mistakes. Lather, rinse, repeat. Don’t just show up; put in the work.
Immerse yourself in this phase long enough, and you build memory muscle. You come to understand the fundamental requirements and subject yourself to the rigour of rules and standards. Keep at this long enough, and you are surprised by the unexpected rays from the sunlight of profound delight
Profound Delight results in growth
Like the sun gives life to the plant and the flowers bear testimony to work done in the dark, deep delight is growth in motion. The reward for all the hard work is spontaneous pleasure.
The prize of mastering the rudiments is the freedom to take the rules and make them yours. The symphony of desire, duty and discipline resonate in deep delight—the joy of discovering new depths and delectable heights. The process is sufficient reward, and the added layer of pleasure from an audience multiplies your delight. The euphoria of births a new desire, and the pull of new growth begins.
On the other side of drudgery is the reward of deep delight.
I’d love to hear yours thoughts.