Lost: Discipline


After reading and seeing an almost endless amount of whining, blaming and generally poor behavior on the news and internet lately, I'd like to re-introduce a word to Americans.  

The word is DISCIPLINE.

This word has been sorely missing from civilized debate and behavior for quite some time now, and I think it's about time we bring it back.  

  • It's a word that has fallen out of favor of late, and generally has negative connotations for those who believe that there is in fact a "free lunch".  
  • People who want participation trophies are not big fans of this word, as it implies restraint, and that rewards may in fact, have a connection to resolve.  
  • This word postalizes that, "just because we CAN do something, often times... we SHOULDN'T."  
  • The word has ties to other good advice like,  "discretion is the better part of valor".   

Unfortunately, the word also brings to mind some unpleasant connotations.  Passe concepts like "doing without" or "sacrifice" or "priorities".  The word might make you envision uncompromising folks.  People like Drill Sargents and old-school, male teachers, with flat top haircuts.  People who embody a "pain is good" ethic.  People who believe that sacrifice builds character.  Those ideas seem to have mostly fallen out of favor these days in favor of comfort, "I know what's mine" and instant gratification.

Why bring back discipline now?

The tipping point for me happened after watching a very good video, created by Simon Senek on InsideQuest.com regarding Millenials and their view on the world and their place in it.  If you haven't seen the video, you can watch it at right, or CLICK HERE, to watch it, and get my other feedback on the piece.

My bottom line take away on the piece: Much of the angst that Millenials (and people in general) seem to be feeling seem to revolved around DISCIPLINE and the lack of it.  More specifically: 

  • Feel like social media is making you sad?  Don't use it.
     
  • Feel like your cell phone is ruining your life?  Put it down.
     
  • Feel like your race/religion/gender/political party/generation gets a bad deal? Look at the deal those folks all got in the not too distant past, and decide if you really have the historical justification to complain.
     
  • Feel like you're not making enough money or feeling unfulfilled at your job? Quit, work better or start your own gig.
     
  • Feel unhappy in your relationships?  Dump the problem people, and get on with it.
     
  • Feel fat? Don’t eat the sandwich, get off the couch and do something about it.

These are all things we can control...OURSELVES...if we just have the discipline to run our own lives*.

*Here is the part, where everyone makes their own excuse in their head, or in the comments about why they are different, and explicably out of control of their own lives.  And I realize that those people do exist.  But they are the EXCEPTION and not the RULE.  So, before you go there, all I ask is, "are you really being honest with yourself", or will your next objection, simply be another in a long line of excuses you have been making for yourself, ever since you started slacking off (which somehow, coincidentally started right around the time when you started feeling depressed)?

YOU can control all of the things listed above without expecting anything from anyone else. 

YOU don’t have to debate these actions with anyone.  

YOU simply decide, and have the discipline to follow through on your decision...regardless of what anyone else thinks.

Drawbacks to acting with discipline:

  • Acting with discipline won't get you the dopamine rush of "likes" you crave from others on social media.
  • Acting with disciplne isn't part of posting empty promises and dreams of how you want a better world/self...without actually planning to do anything to create that world/self.
  • Acting with discipline isn't an instant gratification thing.  You can't post a selfie with your discipline.

Advantages of discipline:

  • Discipline is free.
  • Discipline knows no bias.
  • Discipline works on all playing fields.
  • Most importantly - All the things listed as "Drawbacks" above are bullshit, anyway.

Disciplines ugly step sisters - Sacrifice & Effort

Since when does everyone think they deserve to be happy without sacrifice?  When did we forget that happiness is a function of effort, and effort by definition is hard, painful and often... prolonged? 

If you are being honest with yourself, how much effort are you really putting into your life? 

I bet most of us (if we were being honest) are probably running at about 65% effort.  DId you ever consider that maybe "happiness" is found in the 35% of your life that you are presently OK with throwing down a rat hole?

But make no mistake and don't be misled: effort is no guarantee of results.  Sometime, you will try with all of your heart and soul: and still not get the results you wanted.  Sometimes you will try really hard, and still not achieve.  But luckily for all of us, the results don't actually matter as much as the effort.  

The secret is: the effort is all that actually ever mattered in the first place. 

Only the effort and discipline to the sacrifices necessary to make something happen; generates the elusive happiness you desire.  Happiness is not...never was... and never will be a pill, a product or another person.  Happiness only comes from knowing you did your very best: win, lose or draw.  

We always have the option to "do our best" every day, and in every situation. This opportunity knows know race, creed or economic limitations.  We simply need to learn how to recognize each opportunity and seize the moment to act accordingly.

So many of these "problems" I hear people ranting about aren't problems at all. They are actually byproducts of having it too good, for too long. 

We are so comfortable, that it makes us... well... uncomfortable.  

- See if a kid in Syria cares who bakes a cake and for whom.

- See if a poor hispanic migrant worker requires one of 65 gender neutral pronouns be used when asking him to pick tomatoes.

- See if Saudi woman is upset because her man didn't do item #14 of the "20 ways to tell if HE is your perfect love match" list in Cosmo.

As an American, you are fortunate enough to always have choices.  Make them, and live with the consequences.  That's called being an adult.  Expecting someone or something else to fix all your problems for you, is called being a child. The difference between the two is effort and discipline.  Which do you want to be?  The choice is entirely yours.

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