I have a history of not following through on my grand ideas.
Until today, I’ve interpreted this failing as a commitment problem with a clear solution: discipline.
Last month my yoga teacher, a venerable Swami with 40+years experience, stayed with me for part of his U.S. tour. He and his assistant woke every day before dawn to complete their daily sadhana while I slept in, guiltily indulging in a few extra hours of sleep. (Which camp do you fall in? Be honest!).
Despite touting the importance of a daily routine to my students and clients, I’ve admittedly been slacking with my own.
My sleep schedule is erratic, leaving me exhausted most days punctuated only by short bursts of energy I quickly waste.
My mind repeats the same mantra over and over: You’ll never succeed like this. You’re not committed enough. You have to do the work. Finish the project. Follow-through.
But today I discovered a new truth:
I don’t have a commitment problem; I have an instant gratification problem.
It’s not that I can’t follow-through, it’s that I want results to reward my efforts. Now.
This pattern is scattered all over my life:
I bounce from doctor to massage therapist to naturopath to acupuncturist to biofeedback specialist – all in the hopes of switching off my nervous system and “curing” my acne.
I try new diets, supplements, yoga, chiropractic work – anything to stop my body from aching and feeling so tired all the time.
I give it a go for a month and then switch when don’t see results.
I do this even though I know intellectually that the key to succeeding is continued practice over time.
I even have proof that focusing works – I successfully realigned my pelvis using therapeutic yoga and structural integration therapy.
But I practiced. Every day. For years.
In Yoga for Emotional Balance, Bo Forbes writes “The instant healing fantasy can cause a backlash: we may find ourselves drawn back into old patterns, which can make us feel even worse.” (pages 25-26 if you’re interested).
I see this in myself every month – I charge ahead full of life, lay the best of plans, then stutter, doubt, and crash.
Second-guessing my ability to commit and succeed, I strengthen the belief that I’m not good enough and not worthy enough of lasting success.
But I am. I know I can commit. I know I can improve myself. I’m happier and healthier than I’ve ever been and that’s a direct result of the efforts I’ve made in the past.
Yet I still have this nagging instant issue. I want healing now. Today. Permanently.
I forget that it’s not the moment of opening to healing that brings lasting change, but the process.
Healing, changing, growing – these adjustments take time.
It’s the daily effort – getting up and practicing all over again – that solidifies your progress and embeds the changes permanently in your movements, thoughts, and feelings.
So what do you do when all you want is a quick fix?
Switch off your need for instant gratification and turn on your attitude of gratitude.
Commit to being thankful for the small awakenings along the way. The small steps on your healing journey.
Start with gratitude for just one moment – the moment in which the heavens of your mind and body opened and gave you a glimpse of the health and wellness available to you beyond your current habits and patterns of suffering.
Gratitude for the moment of insight that shows you the very next step – not the whole path, just the next move.
Gratitude for feeling peaceful, for even a second.
Gratitude for your full inhale and full exhale.
Gratitude for the softness in your belly, for helping you un-clench, release, and relax.
Gratitude for the sunrise, the mid-day you forgot to notice, and the evening light.
Gratitude for the love and connection that’s all around you.
Gratitude for the power of one touch, smile, look, or word to open you ever deeper to healing, love, and life.
Where are you holding out for instant gratification in your life?