Having spent my late teens and early twenties in San Francisco during the hippie era, I was heavily influenced by the concept “If it feels good it’s all right”. Feelings were king and discipline had gone by the wayside. Things that caused immediate sensations like drugs and “free love” were sought and those who escaped work were deemed to be “cool”. Having achieved a successful career in music, I was one of those.

But in the continual experiment of how best to live this life, I found something to be true that was counter to the feelings-first approach that was prevalent at the time, and that is: sometimes you must go against your immediate feeling inclination to achieve an even greater feeling. That is, following our immediate feelings can sometimes lead to bad feelings, and going against our immediate feeling inclinations can sometimes lead to great feelings. Therefore, feelings can’t be relied on as the ultimate indicator for how to have the best life possible.

Let me give a few examples. Drug use created some very intense sensations, with some being very pleasurable. But it also led to a lot of deaths and “bad trips”…some of which I had the misfortune to experience, including very intense downturns in my life that caused a LOT of pain and whose effects lasted for many years. So the end result was FAR from the pleasure that I initially (and impulsively) sought. But there are many worse stories than even mine, which I especially saw having been in the drug saturated music business, including deaths.

As for “free love”, the attempted pursuit of the immediate pleasure of sex has often led to disease, broken hearts and broken homes. This attempt to follow a feeling and ignore the natural requirements for sex (which manifest in other feelings such as romance and a desire for security), has often led to many VERY bad feelings.

Another example here would be how many people treat eating. That is, in seeking the mouth sensations of candy and donuts or a continual parade of food often leads to the bad outcomes of low-blood-sugar, stomach aches, headaches and weight gain.

So the wisdom acquired here is: following initial feelings for pleasure can lead to just the opposite…very unpleasurable feelings. Therefore we can’t always trust our feelings to lead us into good spaces. Our mind and its acquired wisdom must step in and steer the feelings to what not only will give us immediate satisfaction, but will also put us in situations that won’t later bring bad experiences into our lives. And for the desires for sexual and spiritual satisfaction, and food, this all can be done (as I later would find out).

So now let’s look at the positive side of this dilemma. That is, the opposite of ‘following our feelings’ is just as true and is a great piece of wisdom. The axiom goes like this: going against our immediate feelings can lead to some of life’s greatest feelings.

I would call this ‘going against’ approach: discipline. And the second component of discipline is: forcing ourselves to overcome ‘feeling inertia’ (which is when we don’t feel like doing something) to do something that we, based on our past experiences (or from hearing the experiences of others who we trust) know will lead us to good outcomes.

I’ll give some examples of this from my own life.
In the mid 1970’s, many people were having problems with drugs, and yet they were still mesmerized by the high experiential possibilities that they had been introduced to by the culture. To fill this need for a drugless way to attain high spiritual experiences, a number of gurus came to the west from India. The fabric, incense, artifacts and love of deep wisdom that was coming from India had already given many people a deeper spiritual sense. So because of that, people were ready to experiment further into Indian culture with yoga and meditation.

I too was fascinated by this, so I got involved with an organization that promised to reveal “the knowledge” that led to peace, bliss and high spiritual states, which many who knew this knowledge were exhibiting. To make a long story short, my experiences with the meditation techniques that I learned often started the same: I often squirmed and struggled through discomfort to tie down my body and mind, but then after enduring that for a while and sticking to the discipline of the techniques, I ended up in incredibly clear and pleasurable experiences. In fact I could say that they were the best experiences I’ve ever had, as the techniques led to peace, which at times led to a deep love, bliss and even ecstasy. And as I went deeper into these experiences, my ability to see life gained great clarity. As the smog of mental chatter and evaluations cleared away, I could more and more see the complete picture of reality, myself and others.

I’ve also experienced this discipline-over-inertia-leading-to-a-better-state phenomenon in regards to going to church. Many times I really didn’t want to go to church but then I would force myself to do it as a matter of discipline (knowing where it always leads), because once I’m in church, and my mind acclimates to being there, a great peace comes into my heart and I’m also filled with love…kind of like going to a cosmic gas station for a refill. That to me is a proof that my choice of disciplining myself to go to church is a good one.

I’ve also experienced this discipline-over-inertia-leading-to-a-better-state phenomenon in my music career. That is, many times before a “gig” I’ve felt (especially in my advancing age) “Oh, I just don’t want to go today.” A great tiredness would come over me. But then I would load my car up with my music equipment and that bit of exercise would get my blood flowing, sending blood sugar and oxygen to my brain which would then make me start to feel better and not be tired anymore. And then after the gig, in which I’ve danced around and got a lot of exercise and oxygen flowing (mainly because I play sax, flute and sing), I often feel GREAT, like all is well in my body and heart. I would feel a relaxed physical and emotional peace. Because of that surprising revelation (because of how I felt before the gig) I’ve many times written the following note while driving home: “I’ve got to remember this experience of how good I ended up feeling from pushing myself to do something that I didn’t initially feel like doing.”

One more example from my life is that sometimes I might feel slightly antsy but not exactly motivated to do anything in particular. So then I look at the computer and think, “Nah, I’m not really in the mood to do a lot of thinking and typing.” But then, not being able to come up with anything else that feels really inspired, I end up sitting at the computer and giving myself to a work or writing project that needs to be done. Well, before I know it, I’m completely engrossed in and enjoying what I’m doing (like how I’m feeling writing this article now).

So in this experiment of living, here is what it boils down to: in the inertia and impulses vs. discipline dilemma, it is critical to attain the wisdom of knowing which disciplines to apply and when to apply them. This wisdom is important because some disciplines can lead to bad experiences, while others can lead to good ones.

Now, I personally am not a big fan of the suffering that comes with “errors” (from the trial and error approach), especially the big ones (heartbreak, divorce, diseases, loss of health, loss of finances, unpleasant-to-painful emotions, etc.). So in my attempts to find out how to avoid errors I had a big breakthrough in 1982, which it is now my biggest desire to pass this wisdom on to my fellow human beings. And that breakthrough was: following the Bible to the letter ends with the best overall experience of life and is the best way to stay out of life’s pitfalls. But because I have a background in engineering, psychology and hedonism I didn’t just accept that precept easily. I had to go through a lot of things before discovering that (including many years of many errors, many counselors and 22 approaches to personal growth and lifestyle). I always rejected the Bible because it seemed too restrictive and didn’t fit in with the culture…especially the world of professional music that I was in. But on the experiential level, I can now say that getting into the Bible and being in harmony with God’s spirit within me has been a big liberation for me and has given me what no other approach or line of thinking before could give me: peace, strength and deep fulfillment. And that has been going on for 23 years now. The peace, strength and deep fulfillment that has been in my heart since taking that approach is the strongest reward and proof I could have.

Author's Bio: 

If you want to see how I proved to my very scrutinizing self that God exists and the Bible is true, you can see this in a book I wrote titled: Why Are We Here?. And if you buy it at Amazon.com on June 29th and 30th for the discounted price of $12.32, you receive $1117 in free bonuses. You can see the book and free bonuses at www.TheBestLifePossible.com. Dennis Marcellino. www.UltimateTruths.com