Sunday, September 14, 2008

Senseless Acts of Self-Discipline

  • I won't let myself check last Sunday's crossword answers until this Sunday's crossword is complete. This is not a superstition - luck has nothing to do with it - and it's not a reward - completing the crossword is its own reward - but it's an ingrained habit in the same class as brushing my teeth before bed.

  • I make steel-cut oatmeal every weekend, but I won't make it on a weekday morning, even if I have time. Monday to Friday, it's Multigrain Life cereal for me.

  • I have a sample of EasyGlide dental floss that I keep in my cosmetic bag for when I go on vacation. The rest of the time, I use the cheaper mint-flavoured Johnson & Johnson. Frugality is a possible motive for this one, but considering my lax habits in all my other spending, there's still a certain senselessness to this lone act of penny-pinching.

  • When I'm craving an apple, I often decide not to eat one on the grounds that I should save healthy food like that for the children.

  • When I buy a home-decorating magazine, I make myself read all the articles, even the ones I'm not interested in. (However, I no longer force myself to finish reading books I'm not enjoying, abandoning them as soon as something better comes along. Recent books to receive this treatment are The Birth House, Effigy, and Eat, Pray, Love, any of which I may return to if my stash of more compelling reads dwindles sufficiently.) (Furthermore, I don't apply this "get your money's worth" reasoning to food: if I am full, or I'm not enjoying the meal I ordered in a restaurant, I never force myself to keep eating.)

  • I never throw out a set of pyjamas. I still own (and occasionally wear) flannel nightgowns that date back to the 1980s.

What about you? What senseless forms of self-discipline do you practise?

32 comments:

Omaha Mama said...

I'm with you on the magazines. And the apples. I also laugh at myself when I plate my kids food and make sure it's well-balanced, while never doing that for myself. Huh.
What is with that?

kia (good enough mama) said...

Hahahaa! I thought I was the only one who was selfless enough to pass up the healthy food in order to preserve it for my kid. Who knew??!! :)

I buy DIET Nestea Iced Tea. I eat everything else that is totally fatty and bad for me, but I insist that I'm doing my body a favour by consuming only diet iced tea. Who do I think I'm kidding, really?

TEOM said...

I think you should head to the kitchen right now and grab an apple. Modeling healthy self-care has got to trump unhealthy self-sacrifice whenever possible...

Merle said...

Sense-less acts of self discipline or rigidity with a good healthy dose of inflexibility??? What does that make now? Four ASD traits? lol
PS. I can't spell so I erased it and tried again. It was too embarrassing.

HarryJack's Mom said...

Hi Bea, I'm not sure of the blog etiquette, but Jen at spriteskeeper.com does a great weekly Spin Cycle - "discipline" was the theme last week, and I know she would love this :-)

I do so many things like that, so thank you for putting it into words

shannon said...

When a recipe calls for minced garlic I almost never use my garlic press. I chop it by hand because cleaning the garlic press is too time-consuming. So maybe that isn't self-discipline but more time-saving. But it feels like self-discipline because I always think "I COULD use the garlic press. It would be easier than trying to chop this garlic into teeny little pieces." Ok, I'm just sounding like a crazy person here.

Jenifer said...

I eat the stump of the muffin first saving the yummy top for last. This often backfires and the girls insist on sharing my muffin top.

I never go to bed with dirty dishes, no matter how tired I am.

I could probably fill up a book so I will stop now.

Mad said...

I must sit in my office at my computer until the clock strikes to end my shift even though no one would care if I left 15 minutes early once my work was done and even though all I am doing is reading blogs and tweets.

I must go into work every single day unless I am violently ill.

Mad said...

Oh and I do that apple thing too only not with apples b/c they're a dime a dozen. I do it with berries. I am clearly not worthy of fresh raspberries.

Cyndi said...

We had one tomato plant this year and I didn't eat any of them because Iknew my daughter would like them. Also, I like to do things within a certain amount of time. Like the timing between shutting the bathroom door and turning on/off the light has to be just so.

Sue said...

Self discipline? What's that???

nomotherearth said...

I have to make the bed before I sleep in it. Even if I'm going to sleep in it in the next few minutes. (Is that self-discipline or just OCD? Hm)

Oh, and I feel compelled to review every issue of Today's Parent thoroughly (even if I'm bored) on the theory that I may be missing important parental information that could change my life.

Major Bedhead said...

I used to force myself to read all the articles in The New Yorker until I realized that I would be DEAD if I tried to keep up. And the short stories in there? Literary wanking, most of the time.

I must clean the chef's knife and cutting board in between each use. And hone the knife 20 times before every use, even if I've honed it to cut something 30 seconds ago.

The money in my wallet (ha! Money? What is this money thing I speak of?) must all be facing the same way, with the bigger bills on the bottom. (Again with the ha. Big bills. I crack myself up.)

The bath mat MUST be hung over the edge of the tub after I, or anyone else in the house (ahem, eldest daughter, do you hear me?) uses the shower.

I'm going to stop now before I completely blow my cover as a relaxed and chill kind of person.....

Marian said...

I also am unworthy of good, fresh fruit. It kills me when a little worthy one then takes my offering, slimes it with something else on his plate, drools on it, or even chews it a bit before SPITTING IT OUT, rendering it completely unsalvageable. (One time this summer, though, I did eat one ripe, juicy, delicious peach that the kids would have loved. Shame on me.)

cinnamon gurl said...

I couldn't think of anything so I asked Sugar D and he said "always being on time" and "always turning off the lights" neither of which seem senseless to me. I know I have some I just can't think of them.

planetnomad said...

Like nomotherearth, I must make my bed before I get into it, although a lot of that is comfort--I just don't like a messy bed. If Donn has already gone to bed on a rare day that I haven't made it, I will make him get up so that I can make the bed properly.

I also eat my food in a particular way...saving the middles and best bites for last, and I do dishes before I go to bed even if I haven't done them all day. I don't think this is discipline though, more like quirkiness and general uptightness.

Gwendolyn said...

I had to read through all the comments to try and come up with something self-discipline related that I might maybe possibly do. Sadly, I've got nothing. I think self-discipline is maybe something I need to work on.

Does compulsively checking to see if the oven and dryer are turned off after everyone is in bed even though I KNOW that they are off, but I can't control myself anyway count? I guess that's more along the lines of "crazy" more than "self-disciplined",right?

Okay. Never mind.

Anonymous said...

I cannot wait for personal and cleaning items to be empty and I ALWAYS have a back-up replacement. Example: husband's shaving cream, tissues, etc.

Also, I must read the ENTIRE newspaper and then cannot wait to recycle.

(Your) Anon

musing said...

I refuse to do laundry until the dirty clothes basket lid won't close shut.

(found you thru Magpie's blog)

Gwen said...

Man, I feel *normal* now!

:)

minnesotamom said...

If I am going to indulge in potato chips, they must be eaten with a vegetable.

I DO force myself to finish books, even if it has been 3 years since I picked up that nasty, dusty tome. Your post has given me hope that I could overcome this self-discipline.

Hmmm...what else? I'm not terribly self-disciplined when it comes to dessert. I will eat it before the meal if I want, and I will have 3 cookies after I've made a batch instead of one. Bad Guy, but it sure makes life enjoyable!

kittenpie said...

I make sure there is fruit for breakfast, too, but other than that, I eat a lot of fruit.

I don't write any "possible" numbers in sudokus unless it's the hardest level of puzzle. But I figure I'm forcing myself to try and remember things better that way, like brain exercise.

I don't eat more than three cookies.

But really, I'm not all that self-disciplined!

Bea said...

Minnesotamom - There are people who would bake a batch of cookies and then eat only one? That's just wrong. They're never going to be as good again as when they're fresh out of the oven, so it's really a kind of moral OBLIGATION to eat as many as possible. (Normally, like Kittenpie, I eat only three cookies, but if they're fresh out of the oven I'll eat four.)

Lisa b said...

I'm somewhat baffled at the idea that people place limits on cookies.
I try not to eat them all without sharing.

Chaotic Joy said...

For the most part I am not a particularly self-disciplined person. However, I do eat the exact same semi-healthy low-cal breakfast each morning with the intention of it starting a diet which rarely makes it past morning snack. But at least there is the hope that comes with a new day.

Beck said...

Self discipline? What?
Okay, if I have something I like, I wait until the kids are out of sight before eating it.

trudymorgancole said...

I have lots of these, but I can only think of one and it's really, really stupid.

If I need to pee, I actually (subconsciously, of course) think it's a sign of moral fibre to put it off as long as possible.

I know, you can get an infection that way. But on some level I still believe that frequent trips to the bathroom are a sign of weakness. Not just bladder weakness but character weakness.

Like a lot of these things, it really doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

rivergirlie said...

there's a fine line between self discipline and pleasure deferral! every day should be best underwear day, though, don't you think?

Bea said...

Trudy - Seriously. Bub has exactly the same belief. He will even put off his first-thing-in-the-morning pee as long as possible - until well after breakfast some mornings and even then only because I physically put him on the potty.

Mary G said...

I can't do the crossword unless the pencil is newly sharpened. I must do the ironing in the order in which the items are piled in the laundry basket.
I can't leave a comment unless I have read all the posts above and below it.
I hardly ever get the crossword, the ironing OR the reading finished.

You ask wonderful crazy questions.

Patois said...

No buying another bottle of booze until I've kicked the last one. :)

I love your reasoning behind skipping the apple.

Elizabeth said...

"Eat, Pray, Love" was best in the first (Italy ) section. When asked if it should be read, I say, "Read the first section and just skim the rest."

I do think that Elizabeth Gilbert has a really great voice.