Friday, November 9, 2018

A Disciplined Identity

Thomas Frank recently uploaded a video with advice on how to gain more discipline, and his first piece of advice was to "Focus on Identity." By way of explanation, he said, "To put it simply, when you're trying to change your behavior, forget about the goal you're trying to achieve, the external outcome, and instead focus on the change in identity you want to happen." Then he shared an example of two people resisting a cigarette. The first person says "No thanks, I'm trying to quit," and the second says "No thanks, I'm not a smoker." Frank suggests that the second person is more likely to achieve their goals because of their focus on their new identity.

Similarly, we can resist temptation by focusing on our identity as children of God. Knowing who we are, where we came from, and what we have the potential to become can help us make the little decisions that are consistent with our nobility and that will help us return to our Heavenly Father and reach our full potential. President Boyd K. Packer recommended turning to a hymn when resisting temptation. We could combine his and Frank's advice by choosing to turn to the hymn "I am a Child of God," or one with a similar message, one that will remind us of the identity we are hoping to develop.

I have begun to follow Thomas Frank's suggestion in my efforts to resist temptation, and while it may be too early to judge whether the method really works, the initial results seem promising. I have found it easier to act like a paladin when I tell myself that I am a paladin than when I told myself that I wanted to be or was trying to be like a paladin. Making good behavior part of my personal identity seemed to make it easier to make good decisions, and, since we're all trying to learn to make better decisions, I just thought I'd pass that advice along.

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