Discipline Could Be The Key To Achieving Happiness And Much More

A Very Happy New Year to the Readers!


By Zile Singh


In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves – self-discipline with all of them came first. – US President Harry S. Truman.


Merriam-Webster dictionary defines self-discipline as “correction or regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement.”  Without exception, every individual who is successful and has a great life is a product of self-discipline.  Self-discipline is nothing but to be better from  your own previous self.  An old Hindu proverb says, “ There is nothing noble in being superior to some other man.  The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self.”   Self-discipline is a positive force.  There would be no positive force to propel you to get up in the morning,  go to work, play, listen, learn, talk or enjoy music without a proper sense of self-discipline.  With the help of self-discipline, one can have good health, wealth, career, relationship and other things in any area of one’s life.  And the power to be a self-disciplined person is within you.  It is an ability to control one’s impulses, emotions and behaviour.  It is being able to turn down immediate pleasure in favour of gaining the long-term satisfaction and fulfillment despite discomfort and obstacles that may come your way.


Almost all of us know this and are striving to improve ourselves, to correct our faults, control our habits and make the most of our abilities, but self-discipline is not so easy.  Self-discipline or the self-conquest, as every philosopher from Plato to William James has emphasized, is the greatest victory of all.  “I have had more trouble with myself than with any other man I have ever met.” said Dwight Moody, a famous Evangelist.  Self-discipline is a fight within an individual and once he succeeds, he is of some worth.  It leads to overcoming one’s own weaknesses.  We need to be guided by certain rules.  Without these rules life becomes like a boat without rudder.   Discipline  is essential whether we are in school, playground, home, office or in a social gathering.  There is a discipline or you can  say an  order in Nature.  A small disorder in nature can cause great upheavals like an Earthquake, Tsunami or a Gail.


All the great teachers of every age had declared a simple truth that , “ The divinity that shapes our ends is in ourselves .  All that a man achieves or fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts.” But, it is also a fact that until and unless the thoughts are put in the right direction, there would be no result.  In this context, self-discipline is nothing but putting the thoughts into proper practice and right direction.  In essence, self-discipline can be considered the most important ingredient for success.  Good and noble thoughts of a lazy and shirker will remain just a utopia  without necessary hard work in a guided direction.  Without self-discipline, one can lose track of one’s goals.  Self-discipline does not mean living a limited and restricted life.  It does not require giving up joy and relaxation.  It means learning how to focus your mind and energy on your goal and preserve it until the goal is achieved.  It also means cultivating a mindset whereby you are ruled by your deliberate choice rather than by your emotions and  bad habits. “ Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates.  There is plenty of movement, but you never know if it is going to be forward, backward or sideways.”- Jackson Brown Jr.


Self-Discipline, for any defense and paramilitary force, is a question of do or die.   According to George Washington, the first President of America, “Nothing is more harmful to the service than the neglect of discipline; for that discipline, more than numbers, gives one army superiority over another.”


How to develop Self-Discipline ?  Slow and steady wins the race.  No process or change takes place overnight.  Everything takes time.  So is self-discipline.  Start with a small step.  Once you have decided what is important to you, chalk out a daily routine to achieve it and get rid of some bad, self-defeating habits.  A poor attitude can also be a bad habit.  Engage yourself in some hobbies.  Sports are an excellent way to enhance self-discipline.  It provides a situation to learn to work hard.  Pay your attention to things which motivate you in the form of  reading inspirational material, engaging in  spiritual activities and playing or listening to music. Stop and think before you act. Practice self-restraint.  Self-denial, of unnecessary things  a method adopted by Mahatma Gandhi, is a unique method to develop self-discipline.  A suitable Timetable according to one’s need is very important.  We start our learning in school adhering to a time table.  Finally, conceive a legitimate purpose in your heart and set out with a suitable time-table to accomplish your noble goal.  Self-discipline is a sure shot weapon to overpower any obstacle, small or big.  Wear this weapon and be a  victorious warrior.


Mr. Zile Singh is much respected Link Columnist, writer, a Vipassana Meditator and has a Post-Graduate Diploma in Human Rights.  He can be reached at zsnirwal@yahoo.ca

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