On Discipline | Brian MacKenzie

Issue #10

This paradigm of health is entertaining if you look at how we have made it exactly that; a model. We have allowed ourselves to conveniently develop a model for something with no path. This has ultimately fed into our control issues of trying to inform folks about right and wrong. Run, lift, stretch, walk, stand, don’t sit too long, eat this way, eat that way.

I have invested considerable time in physical practice and breath practice for my exploration. This has given me a lot of understanding of how I spend my time. In deconstructing the last 25 years of my life dedicated to this, I could fall under the illusion that had I made better decisions earlier, it wouldn’t have taken me as long to get to where I am.

“Do more. Go longer. Be better. Why are they interrupting me. Don’t they know I’m working here?”

Normal right? Pretty much.

It’s funny that we think changing our behavior makes us healthy when the only truth is when we are healthy, our behavior changes. Tail wagging the dog, or dog wagging the tail?

What does health look like? Is it being shredded? Is it constantly looking in the mirror, taking selfies, or wondering if I’ve put on excess weight? Is it questioning the food I am putting in my mouth or “working out” to burn off that food I put in my mouth? Does any of this read healthy?

When I think about health, it looks or feels more like that person who’s smiling, invested in their lifestyle, glows when they enter the room and doesn’t worry about what they eat or when things don’t go their way. They don’t need to set a record in the gym or don’t have to run to feel good about themselves. They are active because they love it, not because they need to look a certain way. We all get glimpses of this.

The confusion arises amidst the reversal of actions and a need to fill something that feels missing.

Changing behavior without understanding the root issue is a cozened handshake with that devil. Unfortunately, this has been one of the issues inside the mental health space since it was decided to be a separate issue from health; we’ve got a new model to sell. Mental health is health, but health is not something we attain; it is an actual behavior. And this is where that devil begins to sing…

I described above a version of what is called high-functioning anxiety. If you look around enough, you’ll learn that any control issues fit some psychological assessment. Therefore, they are mainly irrelevant unless, of course, you’d like to live there.

In one door, you have the choice of disciplining your behavior. You will change and grow many things through this process. However, the root problem will always exist, and all attachments you have must be constantly repeated and controlled to avoid the other door.

The other door is a gateway to accepting your decisions and uncovering why you believe you need to change your behavior. It is a path to accepting the decisions you have made in your life, learning to listen to what you need, and getting to the root of what drives you.  This door also gives you every piece of what you believed the other door would without the repetitious attachments hiding that truth.

If I need to discipline myself to a new “healthy behavior pattern,” let us first consider discipline’s definition: the controlled behavior resulting from discipline. Or, to train (someone) to obey rules or a code of conduct, using punishment to correct disobedience. “I’m a bad man!”

Discipline eludes to learning a process of behavioral control, which makes a lot more sense for us culturally, right?

Once again: if you look around enough, you‘ll learn that any control issues fit some psychological assessment. From an over-simplified physiological view, applying discipline to behavior is using the dopamine and adrenaline lever to mobilize energy to make us feel productive while reinforcing those patterns (via the nervous system). It feels so good! I can now check the box off.

Needing a disciplined lifestyle to be healthy only keeps us busy avoiding the truth, and being busy and being disciplined are not actual skills. If you look deep enough, you have become highly skilled at many things without the thought of discipline, simply a passionate drive. The irony is either path myelinates that nervous system and our habits.

The hard part about the health space is that the term and ‘behavior’ and ‘discipline’ are so pervasive that they have become synonymous with skill, so I invite you to pay attention to when professional athletes retire and how difficult that process is for a large majority of them. Or most people who retire from something. How about winning the lottery?

We’ve been sold on the concept of luxury, popularity, safety, of convenience and that there is no consequence for any of it… All this is for our natural beauty and health. Yet, that little devil is anywhere I can sense, and I can choose to feel it or protect myself from it by avoiding the truth.

Until Next Time,

Brian

brian mackenzie

Brian Mackenzie is an innovator in human performance on stress adaptation and a pioneer in the development and application of custom protocols to optimize human health and performance. His clients and work have included: Ari Emanuel, William Morris Endeavor, Sheppard Mullin, Deloitte, Google, Tim Ferriss, U.S. Military (Navy, Army, Marines), Canadian Military (CANSOF), San Quentin State Prison, The UFC Performance Institute, Altis, Jon “Bones” Jones, Laird Hamilton, Tia Clair Toomey (3X CrossFit Games Champion), Rich Froning Jr. (4X CrossFit Games Champion) and many others.

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