“The Road Less Traveled” (RLT), by M. Scott Peck, has sold more than 7 million copies and spent at least 598 weeks on bestseller lists. The book’s first words are “Life is difficult,” and its premise is that most of our unhappiness in life is the result of having attempted to avoid the legitimate suffering or pain (sustained effort, discipline, self denial) required to face and solve life’s problems.
Peck postulates that solving one’s problems requires discipline and that four tools of discipline are essential.
This is just a portion of a summary of RLT that I wrote for my own edification almost 20 years ago. In my desire to learn at a deep level, there are several books that I summarized for myself in an attempt to drive their essence far into my consciousness. Most of what’s here is either a paraphrasing of RLT or direct quotes without the benefit of quotation marks, as my only goal was to learn
“The Road Less Traveled,” by M. Scott Peck
Life is difficult, mainly because the process of confronting and solving problems is painful. The benefit that results may be pleasurable but the process is painful. And since life poses an endless series of problems, life can be painful.
Yet it is this process of meeting and solving problems that gives life its meaning. Problems are the cutting edge between failure and success.
Sometimes we sabotage ourselves by not letting go of things that we should. We hold onto patterns or emotions or habits or thoughts long after they have ceased to serve us, long after their usefulness is gone.
There is a story of two monks traveling by foot along a wooded path. Their religious order was a chaste one and included a solemn vow never to touch a woman. As chance would have it, the path these monks trod required them to cross a stream swollen by a recent rain. They came to a young maiden in great distress because she could not transverse the turbulent waters. Without much ado, one of the monks swept her up in his arms, swiftly carried her across, promptly placing her on the far side, safe and dry. He then continued his journey with his companion. They walked in silence for a few miles and then his fellow monk could contain himself no longer: “How could you have done that? You violated our vows! You touched a woman!” The first monk smiled peacefully and replied, “I put her down on the banks of the river. You are still carrying her in your mind.”
It’s so hard when I have to,
and so easy when I want to.
~ Sondra Anice Barnes
There is no such thing as an undisciplined person. Shocking statement? But so true.
There are no undisciplined people, only unmotivated people. We have NO problem getting ourselves to do what we WANT to do. It is getting ourselves to do what we don’t want to do that is the challenge.
So here’s an idea: Instead of spending all that time and energy trying to get yourself to do what you don’t want to do (and spending more time and energy beating yourself up if you don’t succeed), why not expend that time and energy trying to get yourself to WANT to do whatever it is that you think you should be doing but aren’t?