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Discipline is the Gateway to Happiness



Self-discipline is at the centre of mastery and control, Your free will is governing your emotional system, your mind, and your body. Free will is like the CEO of a company that has three branches - the body, mind, and emotion. He takes the information from these three branches and makes decisions based on this information. The CEO is running the show and calling the shots. Free will is in control. Non-disciplined people are controlled by their minds, body, and emotions. Their hierarchy of control is upside down.


So let's see how this plays out in real life. You commit to waking up every morning at 6am to hit the gym so you can get jacked. Your alarm goes off at 6am. Assume you did not sleep well because your neighbour was having a wild party. You don't feel super strong so you hit the snooze button. The way you feel is dictating your actions. The employee is telling the boss to keep sleeping. A self disciplined person overrides this resistance becuase he knows his body can perform the work notwithstanding the less then optimal sleep.


We all come against resistance. This is Newtons third law of motion - for every action in nature, there is an equal and opposite reaction. For everything you plan to do you will find resistance. For every decision the CEO wants to make, there will be a degree of resistance from the three branches. These will come in the form of resistant thoughts, resistant emotions or resistant sensations in the body. Disciplined people go against this resistance while undisciplined people go with the the flow of the resistance.


For example, you are in your second year of university and the subjects start getting difficult. Instead of working harder, you decide to quit because you tell yourself that regardless of how hard your work, things never really turn out for you. Your mind goes back to high school mathematics when your teacher said you sucked at maths and you will never do well regardless of how hard you try. Instead of overcoming the resistance of this negative belief, you decide to align with it and let it wash you down the river of low self discipline. At first it feels good to drop out becuase all the pressure of performance is lifted from your shoulders. You feel relieved but after a few days the sense of failure sets in and you feel like a loser. If something feels good, it does not necessarily mean it is good for you. If that were true, heroin would be good for you.


Everything you feel is not always a reflection of your objective reality. The information being provided to you by your mind, body and emotions is not always accurate. Like any good CEO, you know when your employees are lying to you and when they are telling the truth. The human brain processes information assuming it was obtained in rational and objective conditions. It does not consider the possibility of the body interfering in the process. For example, we are not ourselves when we are hungry or tired. Your brain might tell you to quit your job because your boss is a narcissistic dickhead, or leave your wife because she is a controlling bitch. In reality, the solution may be far simpler- you may need a snack or to take a nap. In moments of ambiguity, the brain can jump to some crazy conclusions. Self discipline also involves self awareness where you take your time before making important decisions to see whether the information you are received from your subordinates is accurate.


The most common resistence you are going to find is "it doesn't feel good". This is not a message. It is nothing more than a red flag, just like when you phone beeps to say you have a new message. You need to open that message and dig down into what is triggering that red flag. We often differentiate between what we "have to do" and what we "want to do". One of the great things about free will is that you do not have to do anything. You don't have to eat - if you dont, the consequences will be quite extreme, but everyone endowed with free will can choose what they want to do. There is no power in the universe that is forcing you to do things. You therefore need to remove the phrase "I have to...." from your vocabulary. You get to choose what to do and what not to do. If you live your life by a "I have to" philosophy, it will destroy your life. Living without discipline means you are at the mercy of everything around you. Life happens to you and you are a victim of circumstance. You will achieve nothing and you will never be the person you want to be. You will float through life unhappy and unfulfilled.


You need to embrace discipline, and this is done by taking on responsibilities and seeing them through. You need to lean into pain and discomfort, because these testing situations will make you grow, and will make you happy and fulfilled.


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