Self-control

Today, as I sit here and ponder over my lack of self-control, I wonder when will I actually change.

Self-control truly is an art, a science, which is difficult to master. It’s not even as simple as 21 days, where a habit is formed in 21 days. It can take months, even years, of trial and error. But once mastered, it can take you to new heights.

One person who models self-control is Kobe Bryant, whom I have been following more recently. Kobe has achieved a lot in his career, but it’s what goes on behind the scenes that is truly inspiring to me. His work ethic is insane, for example shooting 800 shots every morning (not sure if he still keeps up with this despite his injury). And his healthy diet (along with other athletes), completely cutting sugar and losing weight, is what a lot of us want, but can’t enforce. When Kobe is determined to make a change, nothing stops him.

My quest on a healthy diet has been going pretty well. I have definitely reduced my intake of sugar, cutting back on soda completely (I even started a goal on Coach.me to track the progress and archived it after I had stopped drinking soda for 21 days in a row). Although I still take sugar, in the form of brown sugar, raisins and (sometimes) honey with my oatmeal, or drink a glass of chocolate milk, or even a chai at Peets, I limit my intake and watch out. Being aware of not consuming more than 9 teaspoons of sugar/day has helped me control myself.

I try to follow Matt Frazier’s advice (from No Meat Athlete), on eating healthy twice a day, which in my case, is breakfast (oatmeal & fruits) and lunch (a salad and rice or something else). This is very effective in helping me identify clear goals and achieving them, versus just “eat healthy”.

My healthy diet seems to be going well, so there’s no reason in writing this post, you would imagine. But it’s not really my healthy diet that I lack self-control with. It’s my mind.

The last week and month, academically, has been challenging and I’ve slipped with not taking care of myself. And I’m paying the price, feeling tired and not at my best. My mind has been wayward, and I’m constantly getting distracted by everything/everyone around me. The habit that I wanted to form last week hasn’t been going well, and I’ll post an update tomorrow on that. But I know I can learn and improve.

I strongly believe in the growth mindset, something Sal Khan from Khan Academy really covered in his post. It can be used in getting better at self-control too. The more you practice it, the better you get at it. No one starts off perfect, with a perfectly sound mind and superb self-control. I used to drink a lot of soft drinks, ICEEs, sugary drinks when I was younger, without a care in the world, being totally unaware of the amount of sugar that was going into my body. Of course, as a child, you don’t really care about nutrition – it’s basically enforced upon you. Over the last couple of years, I have made that change myself, to become fit and healthier. So I know that I do have that potential for self-control, but I’m not fully utilizing it.

So here I am, on my quest, to get better at controlling my mind, to use a common practice in meditation by letting go of distracting thoughts and bringing my mind back to the present. It’s clearly not easy. I’ve already failed in what I think is a pretty easy task, being mindful while sleeping.

However, I know that there is that room for change, for improvement, to get better, to reach Kobe-level self-control. It’s almost like charting self-control on the graph of x2, where I’m on x = 2 or x = 3, but can go on and on to improve, to no end. Throughout these testing times and trials, when I feel that I am not changing or making any progress, I will prove to myself that I can control myself. That as the days go by, I’ll get better at resisting the urge, at saying “No”, at controlling my impulses, at controlling my mind.

And that is what keeps me going forward.

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