LISTEN: Get Tough With Yourself, Part 4 (Get Things Done! #38 with Daniel Whyte III)

Daniel Whyte III
Daniel Whyte III

Acts 20:35 says: “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Our quote for today is from Jack Canfield. He said: “You don’t have to get it perfect, you just have to get it going. Babies don’t walk the first time they try, but eventually they get it right.”

Today, in the Get Things Done podcast we are looking at Part 4 of Step 6: “Get Tough With Yourself”.

Q: Do psychologists recommend “flexing” the will regularly?

Indeed they do. One who emphasized this concept many years ago was William James, who put it this way: “Keep alive in yourself the faculty of making efforts by means of little useless exercises every day, that is to say, be systematically heroic every day in little unnecessary things; do something every other day, for the sole and simple reason that it is difficult and you would prefer not to do it, so that when the cruel hour of danger strikes, you will not be unnerved or unprepared. A self-discipline of this kind is similar to the insurance that one pays on one’s house and on one’s possessions. To pay the premium is not pleasant and possibly may never serve us, but should it happen that our house were burnt, the payment will save us from ruin.”

More recently, other psychologists, such as Roberto Assagioli and Boyd Barrett have urged this approach – the daily performance of seemingly useless acts for the sole purpose of strengthening the will. “Gymnastics of the will,” they have called it.

Q: But it seems a shame to select something that is “useless” when there are so many useful tasks to be done!

True. And I am inclined to disagree with James, Assagioli, and Barrett on this point. Instead of performing some useless act just for the sake of exercising the will, I think it makes more sense to select a useful task one has been putting off, so as to get some benefit from the exercise beyond the mere training of the will.

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