Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Toll Road to Success

An airline passenger struck up a conversation with a stranger who was sniffling, apparently due to a recent head cold.

"Look at me!" the healthy one boasted. "Never a day's sickness in my life, and all due to simple food. Why, from the age of twenty to that of forty I lived an absolutely simple, regular life -- no pampering, no late hours, no extravagances. Every day, in fact, I was in bed regularly at nine o'clock and up again at five in the morning. I ate a plain meal at noon and, after that, exercised for an hour, then..."

"Excuse me," interrupted the sniffling stranger in the next seat, "but what were you in for?"

That regimented life does sound too much like a prison sentence. Some people can go overboard with a rigid routine. I once went on a near-starvation diet just to drop a few pounds. In two weeks I lost five pounds and the will to live.

Self discipline is important to happiness, but a rigid routine may not be the answer.

Mark Twain gave some advice about discipline. "Do one thing every day you don't want to do," he suggested. I think I can do that. One thing I’ve been putting off. One thing I always said I “ought” to do, but never made the effort.

I believe that doing something important that we don’t want to do every day is a price we pay for success. Call it discipline. Call it duty. Call it paying your dues, for that may be what it really is.

And the other part is this: leave some time to do something you WANT to do, too. Paying your dues gets you where you want to go. Then having fun along the way makes the journey worthwhile.

For me, the “road to success” has been more like a toll road. If I pay that small, daily fee, I can go most anywhere I want. And when I leave enough time for fun, I enjoy the ride.

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