The discipline of success

Last month I talked about loss and grief and the process of grieving.  While grieving  is always an individual process and has no time limit, part of the journey involves the re-discovery of happiness.

I think the pursuit of happiness has become unrealistically popularized and largely misunderstood.  Happiness can never be one attainable state but a feeling that comes in ‘chunks’ which, when put together, may result in contentment, a far more powerful and productive state of being.  So how can we capture those chunks of happiness, even when all seems lost?

I was reminded recently of that wonderful quote by Woody Allen: 80% of success is showing up.

Well – he should know!  What a persistent artist – and how perceptively he reads human nature.  He can touch on pathos and humour, the beautiful and the non-beautiful and expose truths in the stories he tells on film that might take some people months in therapy to identify.  No one could be that successful unless they did regularly ‘show up’ by observing, noting, participating and fully engaging in the energy of life.

The place I recently re-discovered Woody’s quote was in the regular Newsletter I receive from my personal trainer.  I wouldn’t call myself a gym ‘junkie’ by any means and periodically, life gets so complicated that I just don’t show up.  But the interesting thing is that over time, despite some attendance lapses, the physical changes I want are happening … postural awareness, good bone density, a little more resilience, flexibility, muscle strength … fewer aches and discomforts and so on.

Showing up at the gym makes home exercise easier.  Showing up builds enthusiasm; it reminds me of why I’m going there and what I want from doing so.  It triggers alternatives like the mornings are too dark for walking right now but I can complete an extra sequence or two at home.   Showing up reminds me that being there is a special time just for me – the same as my time for ‘stillness’ each day and my regular singing lesson.  And even though on some occasions, I really have to ‘make’ myself go to the gym, I know I’ll always enjoy the experience and leave feeling great!

The effort of making ourselves do something is really part of discipline and whether we like it or not, discipline at some level is essential to success. If Woody didn’t show up on the film set nothing would happen – right?    Or our sporting heroes wouldn’t be collecting trophies or bringing home medals.  If we don’t show up at breakfast, then what might happen to the rest of the day?

And the discipline of showing up means other things, too.  Like maintaining some order in everyday life, keeping contact with our precious friendships and achieving the completion of tasks – even the less exciting ones like tidying cupboards.

Best of all, ‘showing up’ means that we are fully present to the energy that makes any event we participate in something of higher value.  This is a feature we are reminded of time and again by those people who attend Stillness sessions regularly: ‘my meditation is so much better when I come here … the calm in the room is palpable … it’s like coming home …’  These are comments we are really proud to hear and we welcome you all for maintenance visits because we always want to hear of your success and greater contentment.

Here at the Centre we often quote the discipline of ease which was Ainslie Meares’ way of describing the practice of Stillness Meditation. On this occasion I’d like to re-frame that idea as the discipline of success.  Because success, in whichever form it may take, always brings a chunk of happiness.  If you want success in achieving your hopes and dreams and personal freedom, remember to show up!