We all need good advice, but too much at once can be more obstacle than help. A woman who watched too many motivational talks in a row complained of “inspiration fatigue.” She flooded herself with stories of transformation, but didn’t take time to process them in practice, so the talks lost their power to inspire.
The good news is that when we pick one thing to work on, say, being patient — even behind the shopper checking out with a wallet-full of coupons — our strength grows in all the virtues.
Sometimes, picking one thing is the hardest part of it. So chalk yourself up a victory when you choose one weakness to concentrate on. Then, keep your eye out for it throughout the day. Observe what makes you fall into that harmful behavior and experiment with strategies to avoid it. Role-play with yourself – act like that virtuous person you are morphing into. After all, that virtuous person is the real you!
Most spiritual masters advise choosing your weakest attribute and concentrating on making that stronger for a day, a week, or a month – whatever time period is right for you. (If you need to know more about the virtues and what they look like, check out the “What is Virtue?” tab at the top of your screen.)
Let’s say you’ve had some success in the last week not yelling at your children. If you’re stronger at moderating your anger, you’ll find that you’re also, for example, stronger in resisting that third bowl of ice cream and that it’s easier to keep yourself to your purchase limit this weekend on eBay.
You don’t need to spend too long working on one thing – mix it up and move on to strengthening another virtue muscle. The important thing is to keep moving ahead, so make it fun while you’re challenging yourself to grow. All the habits you are trying to change will improve while you concentrate on growing one virtue at a time. And don’t forget to ask God for a little help!