I was always the type of kid who valued an extra five minutes in bed over anything else, even to the point that I would wear my pajamas under my school uniform just to save time. 

My morning snoozing didn’t change until I completed university and landed my first job in a top private bank in Sao Paulo.

There I was, living the “first fulltime-job in a competitive environment plus insane traffic jam” combo. The traffic was insufferable (Sao Paulo is among the top 10 cities with the worst traffic congestion in the world), a big shock from the island with 42 beaches that I grew up on.

I never knew when I would return home, but I could count on being exhausted. Life was rigid. Work, traffic jams, and house chores left little time and energy for anything else.

The Key Turns

Upon realizing that I was merely using my free time to “cope” and recover, just so I could work harder the next day, it felt like a stab in my heart. A word that perfectly sums up that phase of my life: frustration. I was stuck on a never-ending wheel of exhaustion.

This realization ignited something inside me. I suddenly realized that if my energy levels during the night were beyond my control, then the first hours of each day belonged to me and only me.

It was the suffering in the shape of frustration that supported me to change fast.

I started putting the alarm to 6 am, and eventually, it became 5:30 am, until no alarm was needed. 

In that time, I did anything I pleased. There were times when I would stay in bed reading with a warm cup of tea, I sang, I exercised, I danced on my own, I watched artsy films, I journaled. 

It wasn’t about having morning routines to be productive or to finish chores around the house; it was all about doing what brought me joy and pleasure so that I wouldn’t hate my life. What initially started off
as a way to cope with frustration eventually turned into a way of giving me hope and pleasure, for I couldn’t fit in “fun” in my day otherwise.

Discipline vs Devotion

Rather than utilizing the word ‘discipline’, I prefer to center around the term ‘devotion’. Devotion to oneself, to healing, to expansion, and to joy creates a heart-centered approach that leads us to build discipline and commitment. 

We need to be present with ourselves day after day and turn up for our healing and growth journey, and having devotion as the anchoring energy makes it easier to endure and thrive with our hearts.

Suffering & Growth

Many of the changes I’ve made in my lifestyle have emerged out of a painful experience. Difficult times generated such a level of frustration that it was possible to gather much will power to get out of the pain. Yet, when in pain, all we can grasp is pain vs no pain. 

As I healed, I began to envision what life had to offer beyond the ceasing of pain. Now, I understand that it is much simpler to use our strength to break away from distress than let go of comfortable but limiting circumstances.

I didn’t last long at that job, nor in that city (yey!). Today I can see that the habit of doing “me time” first greatly helped me comprehend my choices, and make better ones. 

We do things to alleviate our pain, and eventually come to recognize the strength we possess and the choices we have. 

I was taken aback when this shift in my conduct also caused an increase in my determination to carry out activities that had previously seemed like a chore. For years now I wake up at between four and five o’clock without any difficulty, so I can engage in spiritual activities. When I began dedicating extra morning hours for meditating and deepening my spirituality, the discipline and devotion were already present, because of that change decades ago. 

That’s why I find it so fascinating to inquire, “what is it that you no longer want in your life?” Pain carries much energy, with which we can use to transform and evolve. As we release and transform the things we don’t want, we invite more of the opposite force and create space for magic in our lives.

Any changes we make with the aim of bettering ourselves can lead to further unexpected transformations. In a world where each action has its own consequences, life is like a butterfly effect; every time we strive for self-betterment, newfound paths are revealed before us.

What Is Spiritual Growth?

Explore the meaning of spiritual growth In practical terms and its connection to soul fulfillment.