"Do something every day that you don't want to do. This is the golden rule for acquiring the habit of doing your duty without pain ... Duties are not performed for duty's sake, but because their neglect would make the man uncomfortable. A man performs but one duty -- the duty of contenting his spirit, the duty of making himself agreeable to himself." -- Mark Twain
"Do the thing and you will have the power" -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Having just returned from seven wonderful but busy days on the road and feeling very good about what I accomplished, here I sit at my computer and, to be totally transparent with you, the last thing I want to do now is another "thing." My logical mind wanders into a discussion with itself saying, "You've worked hard for the past week and you deserve a break." Clearly, my mind is lobbying for a day with no obligations or commitments whatsoever but, at the same time, it is also aware of the trap it is setting for itself. This is when I become most aware of that place within me wherein instant gratification lies in wait, impatiently chomping at the bit, hoping to ambush and undermine my commitment to my predetermined duties of the day. When I first read Mark Twain's aforementioned quote, I vehemently and swiftly recoiled from it because it challenged me to live up to my highest potential when I really wasn't in the mood for living up to anything. So goes the journey of a soul wishing to honor its goals, purpose and evolutionary path; many are those micro-moments when the inspiration to do what Emerson refers to as "the thing" we do not want to do comes and goes in a heartbeat. The practice is to initiate and stay with the action even after the inspiration has long faded in the wind. This is indeed a high call to duty -- to ourselves.
I interpret Mark Twain's use of the words "doing your duty" as being synonymous with the commitment to one's self to continually evolve and grow more fully into a being of infinite possibilities by not settling for the road more traveled which is, without question, the road of instant gratification. In practical application how does the wisdom of Twain and Emerson resonate with you? What does "doing something you don't want to do" really mean? Does jumping out of an airplane or bungee-jumping qualify simply because you are afraid to do so? It could, but it might also include the more mundane, everyday things we often might tend to dodge such as taking out trash, mowing the lawn, doing the dishes, going to the gym, studying for the inevitable test at school, communicating with someone we have been avoiding, finishing that project for work and so on. Regardless of what it might be, it means putting wheels under that which is ours to do to create a life truly worth living.
Sometimes I have difficulty doing that one extra thing (whatever it may be), even when I know that, as a result, I will have the power Emerson promises. Of course that power always comes in the form of delayed gratification. There is nothing quite as empowering as the feeling that arises from within when we stand toe-to-toe with our own dragons of lethargy and slay them. Does this mean to say we should never take a day off to do absolutely nothing but relax and regenerate? Of course not, but it does mean that when we do take those days, we can know it is sponsored by a conscious proactive choice that is made from a place of authentic power rather than instant gratification or lethargy.
What "duty" might you perform today that would make you, as Twain says, agreeable with yourself? You need look no further than the finish line for this day that you have already mentally drawn and then choose one thing that, in your heart, you know is not on the agenda that needs doing and do that thing. Once you initiate the action you'll be amazed at how the universe conspires to do Its part. There is more power available to you than you can possibly imagine when you just do the thing, and yes... There is no better time than now to do it.
NOTE: Join me for a free TeleClass on April 12 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific time!
I have been invited to conduct a TeleClass on a worldwide venue and wanted to invite you to listen. The title of my free TeleClass is "The Seven Commitments: The Art of Creating Authentic Relationships." I hope you'll join me, and please invite your friends! After all, this TeleClass speaks to the idea that every relationship we have can be authentic.
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