Discipline is as much psychological as it is physical. Therefore to develop and understand discipline, you need to understand both of its aspect.
How our thoughts shape our life is a pretty clear notion by now. Everyone has spoken about it and written about it.
Before action there is a thought and after action there is a thought. Each of them equally important. How you think about what you have to do and how you think after you have done it, will determine if you continue doing it until you see the desired result.
So let’s dive into both of this aspects and more, to help us understand and develop discipline.
The immediate meaning of discipline is a little skewed. It is said that it’s a practice of training people to obey rules or a behavior and using punishment to correct disobedience.
The Cambridge dictionary helps us with an alternate meaning, it says that it is the ability to control yourself or others even in difficult situations.
A Debate on the debate.org website about, “If people need discipline to achieve freedom” got some interesting opinions to share and it also clearly shows us that some people think, “Discipline means obeying what others tell you to do and it is living by the society’s norms and standards.”
71% people said yes! Discipline does help us achieve freedom and 29% people said no, they think discipline causes stress, it takes away your freedom and you do not have any control over your life.
I clearly fall into the former 71% and would like to tell you, that discipline is nothing more than doing what you must and doing it when you must. Action and time.
In simple terms, you cannot say that why I must do what I have been told to do at my office, school or home.
Everybody has their own personal duty to perform. It is called Dharma in Indian culture.It is not decided by anybody else, but it is simply your position in life.
Your position in life is your own personal quest and to complete it, you must move forward with intention and action. Focused and disciplined, because without it you are only making wishful progress.
Things don’t happen on their own, everybody takes care of their own survival every day. Every single person you cross by on the streets, is undeniably at least earning his own bread and shelter. If you don’t want to do it then sadly it does not work.
In this world of ours, everybody has to fetch for themselves. Accept that and move on with it. Secondly, if you want to do more than surviving with your life, if you want the adventure and glory, then you need to do what others don’t.
Like working for more than bread and butter, shelter and clothing, committing to learning something new, which will allow you to move out of your comfort zone and do something new with your life.
Our brain is hardwired only for survival. If you want anything more than that, then you must push your boundaries.
It could be for health, fitness, career, travelling, any other personal goal or ambition and most importantly living.
To push your boundaries you need discipline.
Discipline does not demand favourability. It only demands commitment to a cause above everything else.
“Man is a moving being. If he does not move to what is good,he will surely move to that what is not. If this consciousness does not arise here, another consciousness will arise there. Man’s mind goes through multifarious changes and never stops.”
– Issai Chozanshi, The Demon’s Sermon on the Martial Arts.
In all the matters of self-development a single thought or method cannot help us develop ourselves. We are not a machine, we are a living organism.
Each year we learn, we grow and from the experience before, we tread forward into a new territory.
Understanding and need develops with time. What you ran behind feverishly yesterday, you might not be caring about it now. What you thought you will never need in your life, is something which you are pursuing right now.
One of my main reasons behind incorporating this point into our conversation here is that, because of the internet, or clearly speaking, Information technology, all there is to say or do or tell, has been told and done.
There is nothing new. New is a concept fed by the click-bait monster of the internet.
Yes! There are different perspectives and each perspective is helping in its own way for the right person. And therefore before I tell you my own observations on discipline so far, I would like to bring to your attention the things which have been said before.
Here are some common suggestions on each of the sources mentioned:
Apart from that there are a lot of personal variations on the same points. Like, “Don’t wait for it to feel right.” Just act. This one feels closer to what procrastination seems like, but yes! Beating procrastination is a step closer to being disciplined.
Then there is minimize distraction, focus on what matters, understand what you really want, have a clear vision and commitment.
Secondly, Authors Steve DeVore and Karl Pribram created and refined a 7 step process to becoming disciplined. They created a self-paced audio course consisting of 10 sessions which clearly help you understand the process and replicate it for yourself.
The course is called “The Neuropsychology of self-discipline – The master key to all success.”
Side note: this is not my review of the course, I have not taken it and cannot say anything about it for sure. If you wish to you can do your own research about it.
Apart from what everybody else is saying, 3 of their points resonate with me better
I personally see no other logical reason behind pursuing discipline other than personal ambition or desire.
My personal ambition is to explore, enjoy and experience life in its entirety. That means, I might have to climb the highest mountains, dive in the deepest oceans, learn a few new languages, learning art, staying extremely fit, reading, while taking care of my survival and so on. Therefore discipline is a necessity for me.
Life is so much more than just making money. Money is important, but it’s just a part of the puzzle.
If you are overweight and happy with eating what you want, then happiness is all that matters. In this case yes, the skewed definition of discipline is useful. If you are skinny and like being like that, why should you train and gain muscle? Just because the world thinks it looks good?
But what if you are an actor and being fit is part of the deal?
And notably no one should train just for the sake of looking good. We should eat, sleep, rest and exercise for the sake of overall well-being and fitness. More on this later in the post.
Focus in thought and in action.
Like I said before, what you think before you do something and what you think after, will determine if you will continue doing what you were doing.
When we avoid doing something because of procrastination, we are actually thinking about 10 other things which we must do in order to complete our to-do list.
Because of that you feel tired already.
In a recent conversation with my friends, I was telling them about how to focus on one thing at a time, and how life as an adult is like a Test match in Cricket. You don’t have to settle the score in a day, but over the course of an entire series stretched out to a few days.
So focus on the ball at hand right now. Concentrate on playing that one shot well in that moment. Don’t think about how many more runs you have to make in order to win the match.
At the back of your head, planning and details is necessary. But don’t let the pressure of your impending tasks overwhelm you and distract you from performing even one duty whole-heartedly.
It’s tough and therefore it requires practise. Everything in life requires practise.
In a quote I read about the devil, consider a metaphor, I understood something profound after unconscious contemplation, this is the power of focus and thought, you hold a right question or thought in your mind and after sometime, like magic, the solution will sprout forth from within you. So this is what I understood,
“If you are worried about another thing in the future and because of which you cannot focus on what you must do now, then the devil is trying to distract you from what’s important. The danger of the future is an illusion, merely created to derail you from doing what you must.”
“Similarly an ideal situation in the future is a distraction. What you have is today and whatever you can or you should do is today. There is no better tomorrow. Today is the best day ever.”
In such moments, focus on your own vision. Understand its benefits in the long run.
Just because one problem after another is rising, that does not mean you are failing.
You simply focus on what you must do and then suddenly there will be solutions.
So far in my mind I have a packed year ahead. I am consciously planning and evaluating my routine, To fit more things into it eventually. I am on a quest to know, that how much can a person learn in a single year if they commit fully.
That too holistically. Not under stress, tension and anxiety. But With health, fitness and Joy.
I am thinking about living life to the fullest and not just success. I am looking for balance and I will share it with you if I find it.
This personal quest is what inspired me to write this article. To do as I say, I need focus and discipline.
Focus is a by-product of the synergy between the mind and the body. When both are being fed, exercised and maintained consciously, the entire system will focus on its own.
We are a living organism remember? And there’s no one way out, I always say, think about everything as life and deal with it wholesomely. A flower blooms at the top but the roots are deep in the ground.
It is well known that our brain is the most energy consuming human organ. Demanding 20% of our total energy expenditure.
In an article I read on the scientific American, Titled, why the brain needs so much power, I got to know and the researchers observed, that two thirds of the brain’s energy expenditure is spent on firing neurons and sending signals, consider that happening right now. The remaining third is spent on cell-health maintenance.
This cell-health maintenance is important for keeping our brain tissue alive.
When enough energy is not supplied, then you can consider a performance drop, cloudy mind, stress, anxiety, tension and all other related imbalances. Our brain takes care of our entire system, it needs to be fueled for its purpose.
Iron, zinc, Vitamin E, D, C, saturated fats and proteins all contribute to the health of your brain and its performance. 17 of them are listed here in an article on developinghumanbrain.org
Now you don’t have to rush to the market and grab some multi-vitamins to eat. Remember there are no shortcuts. My sole intention behind telling you this is, that you must focus on what you eat and how you eat it.
All of this vitamins and minerals can be consumed through our daily diet. Multi-vitamins are great but I usually try to steer clear of synthetic medication. The one which I tried and experienced good results was Optimen by Optimum nutrition. A similar product can be found for women as well, named, Optiwomen.
Green tea is any day better than the caffeine found in coffee and tea. Until I consumed it for a month I did not know it myself. Too much caffeine can stimulate anxiety, anxiety induces stress and there is a related stress hormone as well, called cortisol. So if more than just two cups of coffee can do this to you, how much do you think, all our other lifestyle choices are affecting us?
We don’t have to completely abstain from any of this things but disciplined and thoughtful consumption will actually help us live better.
Dehydration affects memory, brain function and focus in us. So if you have forgotten to satiate your thirst, you are unknowingly disturbing your system, drinking the right amount of water is beneficial to us in more than one way. Know how to increase your energy levels here.
Many of our problems spring forth from a lack of oxygen in our system. As useful it is for the brain, as important it is for the entire system as well. Exercising makes sure, that all of your food is used to supply the right nutrients to the right parts of your body.
Speaking of oxygen, apart from running and working-out, you can also try doing pranayama. Pranayama is one of the balancing practices.
What your body feels your mind will replicate and what your mind feels your body will replicate.
So if you are growing stronger physically, then indeed you are growing stronger mentally. In order for you to grow stronger physically, you must have a strong mind. One can affect the state of the other and therefore, if one is lacking, you can use the other to help it catch up.
Exercising also releases endorphin and feel good hormones which greatly alleviate your mood. Great mood equals to a healthy mind. Great mood also equals to enthusiasm and focus. The ability to get up and do something.
I remember as a kid, when I was in Kindergarten, My Mom used to wake me up early for school. I did not enjoy getting up as early as much. However, one day I heard her say, “Get up and get ready fast. So that you can play some games, have your breakfast and leave for school on time.” And I was like straight up in the bed in an instant.
That day I learned this lesson. That if you are excited about something, if you like doing something, if your mood is great, then laziness is a myth. Bear this in mind, I was about 5 or 6 and I used to get up at around 4 or 5. It’s a habit I still enjoy.
Getting up early in the morning really sets the tone for the day right and I complete my work sooner. Which in return gets me more time to have fun. I like that.
“Rise up the morning’, Smiled with the risin’ sun, three little birds pitch by my doorstep, singing sweet songs of melodies pure and true.
Saying’, (this is my message to you) Singing’ Don’t worry ‘bout a thing, Cause every little thing gonna be alright.”
Our current way of life, you can say is not the natural way of living. We are not meant to do more than just surviving, physically. But I guess humans are definitely born to do more than just surviving, I guess we are here for thriving, otherwise we would have had the same brain as an insect, if survival was the sole intention of our existence.
If you hold this true, then you are going to require a lot of mental stamina and fortitude.
To do that you have to live a healthy lifestyle.
“People can say whatever they want about the sport of bodybuilding, but to get prepared to do a contest or even think about doing a contest, or even to get into decent shape, it requires a certain amount of discipline, and it comes from taking a new year’s resolution to a lifestyle.”1 – John Cena
What you eat, how you sit, stand, walk, talk, sleep, drink and play is your lifestyle.
There is a set pattern which you follow everyday unknowingly and kind of automated.
Like I said earlier, your body does what your mind believes and your mind does what your body believes.
So stooping your head, like when you use your phone or like when you are sad, signals the brain of your bad mood.
Now if you are laughing at your phone while your head is down, this could really confuse your system about your state.
Are you happy? Are you sad? Feel good hormones? Or stress hormones? This are not the choices our brain used to make even 10 years earlier. How do you feel about that?
Our body-language also has a great impact on our behavior and state of mind. Learning how body language works can be a little useful in improving your life, while you just sit straight.
Staying up late at night? Are you one of those geniuses who functions great at night and therefore sleep by the wee hours in the morning and not night, when you are awake late, how much tea or coffee do you consume? Do you consume any junk food as well? Maybe an external stimulant or two too I guess, like cigarettes.
Hard work is great but it isn’t beyond life. Having fun is great but it isn’t everything. There needs to be a balance.
I did say commitment to a cause above everything else, but, understand the cause here, the cause is life.
The type of music you listen to, the movies you watch, the things you read, all add to your collective consciousness.
Each of them inspires various thoughts and those thoughts inspire various actions.
So sometimes I think, we should think about what action do we want to be inspired from within us?
Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit.” – Frank Borman
Exploration should be a big part of your life. Doing things out of curiosity and interest. Such things are the greatest motivators out there. Endless source of inspiration and energy.
Initially I highlighted a debate from the debate.org website about if discipline gives you freedom, adding to that I would say yes it does, because when you move forward with organization and focus you complete all the survival related tasks with ease and determination.
Being organized should be a big part of your exploration. Because when you will manage your time soundly, then you will have time for everything. One thing at a time though, no rush here.
Remember it’s a test match.
Your free time becomes commitment free and such time can be used to really dive into and explore our magnificent world. Cook if you want to, paint if you want to, go hiking, exploring your own city etc.
Everything does not need to be an achievement, some things can only remain pleasure.
You know hobbies which you had as a kid are great healers. If you start doing them again, you will start feeling the same zeal and excitement again. Things which you can look forward to after work.
I used to paint and play video games. I did not have much time to do it some time ago, but now I actively have made them a part of my life again. It’s satisfying.
The devil still tries to scare me away by saying, “This is the time to work, what help will gaming do?”
And I have experienced afresh, that it’s rejuvenating for me. I can work better after I play a little. I also feel like I am living and have not become a robot.
Nature is rejuvenating, you should seriously consider going into the wild often, with your phone being away from you 90% of the time. Everyone knows the magic of the sound of flowing water. Side note, learn to be an eco-tourist, we need those in the world.
In an article on bodybuilding.com the author lists “22 ways to train your brain.” It includes all of the things mentioned above. From the full spectrum of life. You might not be able to do all 22 of them immediately, but like shuffling your playlist, exercising, staying hydrated are some of them which can be implemented readily. Give that article a read.
Now no one can tell you do this and do that, it’s your personal choice. Until you decide things are not going to move.
Personal ambition is like your purpose and I think it takes time to become evident. You don’t have to have one but you can think about it, like you think about all the other things in your life.
Now we don’t exactly know what will power is but all of us definitely know that we need it the most, it can be developed just like a muscle with discipline. Even working-out regularly will boost your will power. The ability to endure when you are tired.
Now what benefits will such an ability will have can only be uncovered through contemplation. Taking time to think.
It adds a whole lot of meaning and power behind your actions.
Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.2 – George Washington
All this is attention worthy and could really benefit you if you want to develop discipline in your life. If you are not thinking about it, you should try giving it a shot.
Our life is a one big experiment. Try as many things as possible.
Who knows you might stumble across some treasure.
Originally published at soulomotivation.com