{thoughts} three degrees of discipline

Friday, June 21, 2013

I have been struggling with discipline lately. It rises from a discomfort with not achieving or being the things I want to do and be. I am familiar with this feeling. It's been a constant companion since my mid-twenties. BH has been an incredible antidote for that feeling. He is always pointing my focus to all the wonderful things I have accomplished and not letting me beat myself up about them. I haven't worried much about it since we've been married. But now it's returning...

But in a different way. It's less of me worrying if I am doing all I should or could be doing. It's a little more introspective now. Now I've been thinking about the frequently quoted notion....

image via pinterest, no citation listed

I have learned to not beat myself up about not accomplishing everything I wish to do. I am in fact a big dreamer. By the simple nature of being a big dreamer, my goals and ideals are big stretches from everyday life. But stretching has helped me accomplish a great deal more than I ever imagined. My current discomfort is rather from knowing that my grand beautiful ideas and goals are so vital and so important and fill me with so much passion, and yet I choose dull or fleeting rewards in exchange for my big dreams. 

Today I read a post over on Mormon Midrashim relating the three degrees of glory to some theories of how the brain works on different levels of motivation. Seriously, go read it, it's a fascinating topic. In a simplified nutshell the discussion relates how there are three levels of motivation that you may relate to the three degrees of glory: first, seeking pleasure and avoiding pain (telestial motivations); then, group belonging and relational dynamics (terestrial motivations); then finally, making decisions and actions based on reasoning and beliefs, even at the cost of the other motivations (celestial motivations).

I would love to live a life of celestial motivations. I would love to have the personal character to be able to make decisions easily based off of my true ideals with the grand perspective in mind, to be able to always have my and my family's big dreams in mind, never sacrificing them for the comfort of social acceptance or shying away from the pain and discomfort of continual discipline that they require.

However, we as eternal creatures aren't expected to just become as He is. We are to grow into being celestial beings. We are expected to learn to become as God is through a process of experiences. We aren't expected to act solely from a place of celestial motivations, at least not yet. We must move through each of the lower two degrees fully understanding them so that we may move on to the next. Knowing how the lower two motivations are fulfilled allows us to purposefully put those motivations aside as the cost of fulfilling the higher motivation.

Children first learn obedience through a desire to earn rewards and avoid punishment. They then are taught follow rules through obedience to their relationships with their parents and teachers, wishing to please them and earn their praise. The grand desire of parents then is that their children learn to do what is right because they know what is right, to follow and understand the reasoning behind the law.

Reflecting on the times when I lose my sense of discipline, I can now see how the telestial and terestrial motivations are at work in me. Understanding this now I can now acknowledge where I am in the journey. When the temptation to give up my discipline comes I can judge my own actions likewise. If I operate based off of a telestial desire I can challenge myself to face the discomfort by imaging how wonderful the larger goal will feel. If I am seeking to fulfill a terestrial desire for connection, I can find an alternate way to fill that desire, perhaps by calling BH and feeling his love and support, allowing me to make a better decision.

Celestial lives and celestial attitudes take time and practice. It is a journey. Each day we can acknowledge how far we have come and still keep our motivation to go forward.

So now it's your turn! How do you stay motivated? What kinds of things do you say or ask yourself when you are losing motivation?

Oh, and the baby says.a....HHHUHH. (She loves to help 23me tyPE).

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