What Discipline Is
To discipline yourself is to consciously change your patterns of thinking and behavior.
You may know what it feels like to be disciplined. You do your very best and stand up for your own values, whilst doing this outwardly, you feel a calm satisfaction on the inside. On the contrary, you may feel chaotic inside when you’re undisciplined and not doing much. Unless we can express and act on our thoughts and highest wishes, they collect inside us, we stagnate and slowly turn depressed. To grow is to live, after all.
I don’t know if I can pinpoint exactly what discipline is. It’s partly open to your own interpretation. It’s a way of going about things in life first and foremost, a way to travel, not some sort of destination. The journey of discipline can be associated with doing many things:
- Deriving pleasure/satisfaction from doing what is ultimately good for yourself and others.
- Living according to your values, even when it’s hard.
- Acknowledging what is in your control and not letting yourself worry about what is not.
- Letting your “rational, higher self” rule.
- Living once, doing it right, and making sure that it was enough.
- Realizing how your mind affects everything else (your thoughts > words > actions > habits > character > destiny).
- Earning your rest and realizing how the easy pleasures of life can be appreciated more when there’s something contrasting them.
- Harnessing, not suppressing, your emotions and impulses.
- Overcoming fear and other challenges through courage and persistence.
In this guide, the purpose of disciplining yourself is for you to develop a great mindset, built on consistent action towards becoming your own ideal self. Essentially, how to become the greatest version of yourself through a lot of grit and conditioning.
If there is one philosophy known for valuing what’s listed above, I would say that is Stoicism (/r/stoicism). I want to avoid too many quotes in this guide, but I’ll lend it this one:
“Imagine you were now dead, or had not lived before this moment. Now view the rest of your life as a bonus and live it as nature directs.” – Marcus Aurelius
Not only does this translate into “YOLO”, it also encourages you to value the time you have alive and make the best of it that you can. Here’s where discipline comes to use, and you know this already. I’ll lend you a last quote and conclude what discipline is about; practice, not theory:
“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.” – Marcus Aurelius
What Discipline Is Not
- Something you limit to one area of your life.
- Something you learn and can expect to keep.
- A quick fix to solve your current problems.
- A guaranteed path to riches, fame, respect, happiness or anything really.
- The product of someone other than yourself. (Your boss, drill instructor, mother, or friend can influence you to do their bidding, but only when you exercise your own will do you become disciplined. Doing their bidding can be your will, of course.)
Why even become disciplined?
Discipline is boring. You know that it is both hard and fairly unexciting to exhaust yourself with trying to commit yourself to new, better habits. Changing yourself drastically and on purpose is not only hard and boring, but uncommon. Around 3 % of the population might have written goals for themselves. This says more about those 3 % than it does about the rest of people. Just because someone sets goals for themselves and are actively working on improving themselves, does not necessarily mean that they are happier than a guy sitting in his mother’s basement eating cheetos and ordering anime figurines online for his collection. Someone addicted to drugs, without a second thought on their future, may feel content where they are.
That you are interested in changing yourself somehow says little about anyone else, it mostly stands as a testament to who you are. Discipline is to be respected, but it should not replace anyone’s humility. A disciplined approach to life is an adventure, but so is every approach to life. There’s a reason people can’t change others. It’s because they don’t choose discipline – discipline chooses them. As you are here, you have obviously been chosen. That’s right, you can say that “the thug life” chose you :)
Some reasons to become disciplined:
- Progress: To grow it to be alive. If discipline is your tool to get what you want out of life and become the person you wish to be, let it be so.
- Inner peace: The majority of human suffering comes from regret and anxiety. You have regrets about what you did in the past and anxiety about how the future will turn out. These are the two main problems preventing you from living happily in the present. How can we reduce regret and anxiety? Through discipline. We need to always approach our past mistakes with forgiveness. Not only should we forgive others, we need to forgive ourselves too. We acknowledge mistakes, move on, but always apply those lessons to what we are doing right now. Through learning and forgiving yourself for past mistakes and doing your very best to apply that to what you do right now, you reduce both anxiety for the future and any regret you may have had about your past. This is important if you want to experience a greater inner peace, a mind that is less troubled and more content.
- Because you know what is right: In all probability, you know what you need to do, how to do it, and why you need to do it. Following this path you have laid out for yourself is logical. Not only can it be a logical decision, it will likely come from your heart too.
- Preparation: Who feels like they want to get disciplined? Get disciplined before you NEED to get disciplined. There will come a point where you feel a stronger urge or need to change, and you will wonder why you didn’t begin earlier.
If you browse /r/getdisciplined, or a similar subreddit, and you have even read this far in a guide on how to get disciplined, you probably know 90 % of it as it is. Continue reading and let me bring up to the surface what you already know. Even if you know this already, you resonate with it and it’s like your own thoughts, do you let your disciplined thoughts stay as thoughts? Whether or not you feel like your inside thoughts match your outside actions,we are who we pretend to be. That is the reality. So, why not do it? Why not become more disciplined? You know your reason, or you have your excuse.