In the first semester of my freshman year in college, I spent way too much time sleeping in until the afternoon and then partying at night among other things. In retrospect, I did not spend nearly enough time studying or focusing on things that would positively impact my term here at Colgate. When I went home over Christmas break I wasn’t very happy at all when I began to think back on my first semester in college. While back home, I visited my old boxing gym to say hello to a few of my old friends there. The guys asked me to work out with them over the break; the only catch being that their training sessions began every morning at six o’clock. Reluctantly I agreed and worked out with them every morning up until I had to leave town for my second semester of college. I guess because I had already established a sleeping pattern that I was used to, I continued working out at six every morning even after my return to Colgate. Getting up that early for a hard workout meant going to bed early the night before. Going to bed early (for me) meant not putting off my homework until the late evening which meant I had to schedule specific times in the day to get my work done; especially since my second semester classes were going to be more difficult than the first semester’s.
For this semester, I have followed a much more demanding schedule; a challenging six o’clock workout, a reading time, classes, a nap, work, study, and then bed. At first I thought that I would probably lose that schedule after a few weeks when all of my classes really kicked into gear. I thought that this routine would be too hard for me and I’d just be busy, tired, sore, and unhappy every day. I considered not even attempting to pursue my new routine because I didn’t want to be miserable all the time. Yet I found that following this more rigorous agenda left me feeling much more fulfilled and overall much happier in general compared to my last semester self. But if what I do is more grueling, difficult, and both time and labor intensive shouldn’t I enjoy myself less?
Part of the reason for more overall satisfaction can, of course, be attributed to a more positive and constructive lifestyle. One could argue that working out boosts self-confidence. However, self-esteem is correlated with dissonance. Committing myself to something like this could have boosted my self-esteem therefore, through cognitive dissonance, I grew to really love what I was doing each morning. There is also a possibility that the seasonal weather shift affected my mood. I would certainly agree that the purpose driven lifestyle is more fulfilling than a more slack approach, yet that still does not address as to why that purpose driven life is so much more fulfilling. The answer is cognitive dissonance. It has a huge effect on how I feel now compared to how I felt last semester.
First of all, it is necessary to establish that my daily effort was in accordance with free choice. Had I been forced to wake up at six every morning to work out I probably would have hated this semester. In terms of cognitive dissonance, free choice has a direct correlation with dissonance. My actions were not justified by any reward (salary, external praise, etc.) therefore I convinced myself to reduce internal inconsistency by validating my intense commitment, and actually taking pleasure out of my actions. In my case, through effort justification, hardship actually became pleasurable. I, like everyone, would like to believe that I am a good and rational person. However I, like everyone, changed my cognition after I made a decision in order to reduce dissonance. If I am working incredibly hard and suffering and sacrificing out of my own free will than my cognitive state of mind transforms through dissonance to actually provide me the with the feelings of self gratification and enjoyment of my actions regardless of how strenuous they prove to be. If I can quote Professor Carlson, “We don’t want hypocrites… We like consistency.” I would like to think that my attitude followed my behavior yet, as cognitive dissonance proves, in some cases it is my behavior that dictates my attitude.
Joe is pretty desperate, I think he might just go for a jug rat tonight.
Max is pretty desperate, I think he might just go for a jug rat tonight.