By Jennifer Elizabeth Masters
Rule your mind or it will rule you. – Horace.
The term self-discipline sounds like a grind. For those who are not disciplined, it may seem like an imprisonment. Yet, the funny thing about being disciplined is you gain the freedom of the mind. Discipline sounds like work, while the concept of happiness to many might be not having to work or do anything. When you are disciplined not only do you become happy for the long term, you also are happier in the moment.
Self-discipline isn’t just about deprivation. It is about managing conflicting goals.
A study published in the Journal of Personality, interviewed 414 middle-aged participants queried about life satisfaction pertaining to self-control. The findings were that “feeling good rather than bad may be a core benefit of having good self-control, and being well satisfied with life is an important consequence.”
For those with children, the concept of self-discipline might conjure up images of nights when you sat up waiting for your teenager to walk in the door late, so you could check to see if they were drinking and driving or missed their curfew. Being a parent requires us to be disciplined when we might want to take the easy way out and avoid confrontation.
For those that love to shop, it could mean instead of spending the extra two-hundred dollars left over from your paycheck, that you put the extra in the bank instead.
For those with sex addiction, it might mean not masturbating, or watching porn for a week or more. For those with this challenge, giving up the orgasm addiction could also alleviate intense anxiety.
For women, being self-disciplined might mean resisting the temptation to have sex on the first, second or third date or longer even if we are tempted to.
For men, it might mean wearing a condom and taking responsibility for birth control. Stopping to put a condom on takes self-discipline.
When we look for freedom, we find the opposite. We become prisoners of our emotions – regret, anger, guilt. Happiness is the absence of negative emotions, so we know we can’t experience guilt or shame and still feel happy at the same time.
When we step up and do what we need to do, we relieve ourselves from stress, guilt or having to make excuses why we didn’t get our tasks completed. Even when we are the only one that knows we didn’t live up to our deadline we let ourselves down. Tasks that are undone cause us stress. Getting the tough things done first takes self-discipline.
Those with less self-discipline may have a more difficult time choosing “virtues” over “vices.” If you are trying to quit smoking a person that has strong self-discipline would find it easier to forgo the cigarette.
- Begin. You have the power to do what is in front of you. The real effort is only in beginning. Once you begin you are half-way there. Starting is often the hardest part. Our mind keeps us from our greatness. It is within your power to do the best thing for you. It is your duty, obligation, and responsibility.
- Immerse yourself. You can’t think of two things at once. When you begin the pain of beginning will diminish and go away.
- Ignore. After you begin you may hear voices in your head. The self-talk about the pleasure you could have must be ignored.
- Focus. When you focus on your desire, the end of your task will be so much more joyous. You are almost there.
- Exhilaration. Rejoice in the completion of your task. You did it! Congratulate yourself. You succeeded. It wasn’t painful after all! The pain was only in our thoughts and feelings of dread to begin. Remember this feeling. It will return the next time you complete something difficult, or challenging.
- Success comes from taking responsibility. Focusing on the pleasure (riding our bike, watching t.v., or eating what we know we shouldn’t) rather than the responsibility will cause you pain, guilt, and regret in the end. Not doing a task you know you have to do will cause you untold guilt, negative emotions and pain.
- Happiness is the pot of gold at the end of your project or task. Avoiding anything will cause you pain, why would you forgo your happiness to experience instant gratification for an instant?