It is by mid-February that many of us realize we will not adopt our New Year Resolutions. This realization opens the door to frustration because we seem incapable of doing things that would be for our benefit, like losing weight, starting an exercise routine or reduce our consumption of alcohol.
This same entropy can also permeate into our efforts to adopt spiritual practices. Like other resolutions, we can lose our initiative to implement constructive exercises—meditation, yoga, prayer, contemplation, journaling, fasting, etc.—into our lives.
It is not your lack of willpower that is keeping you from succeeding. The problem we all face is our inability to set up an external environment that motivates us to succeed.
This is not as hard as you may think. We can look at the fitness industry for guidance.What the Fitness Industry has figured out
Most of us blame our lack of commitment and willpower for our failure. We make things worse by punishing ourselves with negative self-thoughts. As another year ends, we discover that self-berating does not work. Yet, when New Year’s Eve arrives, we make more resolutions we know will fail.
What the fitness industry discovered is that having people commit to working out with each other is the most important factor to fitness success. This is why we have witnessed such a nationwide growth in personal trainers. They are workout buddies for hire.
There is a science behind this. A recent Stanford University study found that the value of support from a cohort is so important that simply receiving a phone call every week can boost the amount of exercise you do by 78%.
The same formula for success in physical fitness can be used to improve spiritual fitness.
If the key to fitness success lies in the mutual support of people committed to the same activity, then this same philosophy applies to spiritual fitness.
In his book, Willpower Doesn’t Work, Benjamin Hardy emphasizes the need to change your external environment to ensure your success in any undertaking.
This is common sense. If you want to lose weight, for example, you can assist your new behavior by not storing chips and sweets in your house any longer. By eliminating these things, you will not have fuel to feed your cravings when they come.
Similarly, if you want to stop drinking, you remove the booze in your house.
The only willpower you have to exercise is choosing not buy these items any more. This is much easier than resisting the temptation that is available in your pantry.
Partnering with a workout buddy is setting up your environment for success, and, because you can apply this principle to your efforts to better connect with your higher self, you can reap great benefits from doing so.
Here is why:
1. A shared experience is much more joyful and fulfilling.
Forget about shape for a moment, having as many good friends as you can is excellent for your wellbeing. A 2015 study by the University of Warwick found that having friends who love you unconditionally improves your mood and that happiness spreads among friends but not depression.
Just think about it, taking a trip with someone else is much more memorable than one taken by yourself. By sharing your journey you can revive your initial commitment and enthusiasm for the coming adventures the moment you see the person you are sharing it with.
2. There is strength in numbers.
Working with a partner is far better than doing it alone for many reasons. When you’ve got someone else with you it’s much less intimidating trying new things like signing up for scriptures (Bible, Torah, Koran, etc.) study, taking part in a group meditation, working in a soup kitchen, or starting a yoga class.
A good partner can offer encouragement and push you to give it a little harder try. You will also have someone to commiserate with and celebrate the every new milepost reached.
Having someone in your corner can make a huge difference in your motivation. It will also boost your commitment to your goals and give you the confidence to achieve them.
3. You feel an obligation.
It is one thing to bail out on your spiritual practices when you are doing them on your own, but it is another to disappoint to ditch doing them if it will let your workout buddy down.
When you plan and coordinate schedules with someone else and put it down as a recurring activity on your calendar, you are more than likely going to follow through on it.
4. When your burden gets heavy, your workout buddy can be there to help lighten the load.
Often, spiritual work can get overwhelming when you discover the fears and beliefs that bind you from following your higher path. This will tempt you to give up and stick to your old way of being rather than making the changes you need to live differently.
Your workout buddy—especially one who has walked that path before—can use his/her experience to lessen your fear and propel you to grow forward.
5. When you feel lost, your workout buddy can help you find your way.
Just like when you are trying to improve your physical fitness, you will reach a point when you wonder if you are making any improvement. Sharing your feelings of discouragement with a trusted buddy is an important part of evolving to a higher plane. Venting out, either verbally or in words has a great effect on your mood. He or she can be more objective about you and help remove your self-doubt.
You can do the same for them.
6. He or she can challenge you to keep searching higher.
Similar to how a workout partner pushes you in the gym, a spiritual workout partner can push you to dig deeper. This is especially true when you first begin a new practice.
Working with someone can keep you focused on the specifics of your new techniques and prevent you from taking shortcuts.
7. Keeps your ego in check.
It is human nature to get cocky the minute we get results from our new practices. The ego never stops trying to creep in.
A good workout partner—especially a more experienced one—recognizes when pride moves in and will keep you grounded by pushing you to do better.
8. Helps you feel safe.
I often see someone at the gym that spots for another person trying to lift heavy weights. This makes their attempt much safer than if they were doing it by themselves especially if the weightlifter is attempting more weight than ever before.
A spiritual workout buddy can perform a similar function by providing the support you need to feel safer when you try to dig deeper into your soul.
Feeling safe can also encourage you to explore a wider variety of practices. You are also more likely to stick with the new practices if you consider them harmless.
Imagine how much more fulfilling your life would be if you had the power to do the things that are for your benefit. Envision what you could achieve living your life aligned with your highest self.
We can achieve this when we join our efforts with someone else of similar desires.
There is power in numbers. You and someone else can create a team that is greater than the sum of its parts.
You can be more successful in any endeavor you undertake if you get a buddy to join you.
Originally published at Goodmenproject.com