For most of my life the word discipline has been a very ugly word to me, I didn’t like it, in fact it’s safe to say I hated it. It’s no wonder why either, the dictionary describes discipline as meaning:
“the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.”
It’s no wonder so many of us struggle when it comes to being self disciplined.
When I was a kid my parents talked often on the importance of self discipline. So I, being the rebellious person I am, strayed far away from the concept as much and as often as possible.
Still, I felt there was something more here and I wanted a greater understanding of what this word really meant and how I could apply it to my life positively. I asked my dear God for this new perspective and I received an answer almost immediately.
First, I read a description in Iyanla Vanzants’ book “One Day My Soul Just Opened Up” that really hit home for me and opened me up. Iyanla says that “discipline is simply the act of doing what you know you need to do.” That’s it – no harsh punishment or rules to follow – just do what you need to do.
I took this further for myself. I noticed that I easily burn out doing what I know I need to do when my attitude isn’t aligned with it.
Attitude is Everything
Self discipline when it comes to your attitude will give you the highest benefit. Your thoughts create your attitude so if you are grumbly, complaining and full of excuses no matter how much you love doing something there will be no motivation. Much less the energy, enthusiasm or passion necessary for a fulfilled life. I found myself in this place (more than once) and it was because my attitude was all wrong.
I enjoy everything I do and totally receive from it if I am coming at each task with an attitude of “How May I Serve?”. When I ask this question and keep it at the forefront of my thoughts my attitude shifts in a big way. Not only that, I’ve found that I am more willing to serve myself. Plus BIG bonus – others are ready to help me out when I need it and I’m actually willing to let them! Things just align in a wonderful way when you have an attitude of service. This is self discipline at its highest.
I’ve also noticed that self discipline includes balance. I tend to be a workaholic and that has never served me well. Creating balance in my life by shifting my focus has helped me be more productive and even happier.
I include a daily spiritual practice, yoga and walking 3 times per week. I try new things often; whether it’s an exercise, a meditation, a new prayer, a new food or a new activity with my daughter. Just changing things up, making life exciting, doing experiments for the fun of it. This is what self discipline is really about, it’s all focus on what matters, its motivation to live your best life, its rest and relaxation and enjoyable work.
Self discipline is actually a link to freedom. It all begins (and ends) with attitude. Start forming an attitude around exactly what you want to get out of life and just follow that – that’s self discipline. Focus on what you want – don’t let your mind take you down the dark alleyways of using up all your energy on complaining.
Just do what you need to do and think how you need to think to get where you want to go!