Obstinacy is not a unique trait. It can be cultivated provided you put your will power to good use. Of course, I could always begin with a legendary parable that inspired me but I wanted to keep it simple and relatable.
I still remember being a child watching the movie Terminator 2 : Judgment Day. That movie changed my life. I detect a smirk but indulge me. Watching a decidedly obsolete machine defeat a very advanced enemy truly inspired me. Truly, a David vs. Goliath saga. I vividly remember the last scene where Arnold’s upturned thumb slowly disappears into molten metal as the young John Connor wept helplessly. My take away- you’ve got to fight your own battles. Quite often, without external help.
Having said that, will power is a truly amazing force of nature. Everyone is a creature of habit. By that, I mean we all make new year resolutions only to watch them break slowly. Story of your life? Well, it certainly is mine. However, I try to be obstinate: each time I break a good habit, I get up and try going back to it again. No matter what curve balls are thrown at me, I always try to come back just like the T-800.
For the past one year, I have practiced reserving 90 minutes of my day to invest in my mind, body and soul:
Mind: Meditate & Read
“Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts.” – Gautam Buddha
Begin your day by keeping aside atleast 10–15 minutes to meditate. Personally, I found focusing my mind one of the hardest undertakings in life. Motion implies progress to many people.
The Suryanamaskara is a very good warm up routine to begin yoga. But, the essence is to sit still at a place (Asana) to meditate.
A ten minute Yoga session can then be extended to 15 and even 30 minutes. A combination of yoga and basic core exercises for 15 minutes each can be another alternative.
There are more than many resources that can help you master Yoga. So, I am not going to belabor going into the details. I am also not a qualified practicioner. But, focusing my mind for 30 minutes has significantly improved my day.
End your day by keeping atleast 15 minutes to read before you sleep. If nothing, I read MAD magazine for 10 minutes. The important thing is to become a voracious reader. I cannot emphasize the importance of reading enough. Personally, I have witnessed the difference that being well read makes to your life.
I have hit the gym for 30 minutes almost 200 out of 365 days. For me, it has always been a mental challenge just stepping into the gym.
Today, I have a good understanding of my workout and my diet. I utilize an app – UA myFitness pal to keep an everyday log of my food and my Apple watch to keep track of the minutes I spend exercising. At work, I get up every 30 minutes. Although, my friends will tell you I get up more frequently than that. The bottom line is to keep atleast 30 minutes for exercise. Also, use variation to make your routine fun. Occasionally, river raft or go biking.
I looked for God. I went to a temple and I didn’t find him there. Then I went to a church and I didn’t find him there. The I went to a mosque and I didn’t find him there. Then finally I looked in my heart and there he was.
- Jalaluddin Rumi
Faith is very subjective. Therefore, utilize any method you feel is your own. It could be listening to Sufi music, painting or learning to play the guitar, a new language or anything that allows you to focus on a higher purpose.
Personally, I have always been a fan of poetry especially Rumi’s. The writings of Jiddu Krishnamoorthy have also influenced my thinking. As I write this article, It is baseball season in St. Louis, home to the Cardinals – one of the most successful franchises in baseball history. If you haven’t already, I would recommend reading “Intentional Walk: An Inside Look at the Faith that Drives the St. Louis Cardinals” by Rob Rains. A good read for the soul.
To Sum Up
By no means have I mastered the habits I set out to master but I have come far and am better than I used to be. It may not come as a surprise to most but the amount of effort it takes to get up after losing a habit will end up surprising many. Neither do I hold a patent to the 90 minute rule nor do I have any scientific evidence to prove my claim. I have seen the impact of being obstinate about good habits and want to encourage you to be obstinate as well.
The top dog is not a Hollywood action star, the Prime Minister of a country, your best friend who earns a million dollar bonus, a rock star or your very own sibling who you think your parents favor the most.
I am not saying you cannot aspire to be great. Many great ideas came from socially certified lunatics. But, since when does society have a good record of predicting the future?
In the end, the race is always with yourself. All of us are underdogs until we obstinately chase the top dog within us. The journey of the underdog is the story of steel forged in fire. The catalyst here is your own mettle.
I don’t claim to have discovered the route to success but I have walked on the road to happiness and for many people like me, being happy is being successful. I would love for this article to be the beginning of a conversation. If you have any feedback, please share it by commenting below this post.