Discipline is not about denying the self for the sake of denying pleasure. It is about denying those activities that cause long-term harm to the self. It is about having a body and mind that operate properly. It is about improving rather than diminishing the self. Discipline is willingness to deny the lesser for the sake of the greater. It is seeking happiness rather than just pleasure.
A disciplined man is not a glutton. He recognizes that moderation in his diet will prevent a stomach ache minutes from now and possibly an extra inch of fat for the rest of his life. Be disciplined enough to recognize that you cannot eat anything you want whenever you want. Eat healthy foods in healthy portions. There is a saying about the people in Hawaii, “we don’t eat until we’re full, we eat until we’re tired.” That is not discipline. Man eats. Beasts feed.
A disciplined man is not a spendthrift. He recognizes that his long-term financial health can be damaged by irresponsible spending. He recognizes that emotional purchasing decisions are rarely good ones. He knows that pennies saved are not only pennies earned, but that those saved pennies will actually work for him and multiply through sound investments. The disciplined man will save first before he spends; and never ever pay interest on depreciating assets. Earn interest, do not pay interest.
A disciplined man is not wasteful with his time. Don’t tick away the moments that make up a dull day. Don’t fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way; kicking around on a piece of ground in your hometown, waiting for something or someone to show you the way. (Okay, I admit that was a paraphrase of the first verse of Time by Pink Floyd, but the message is still valid—and the tune is cool).
Invest your money, but also invest your time. Money investments return more money. Time investments return timeless values if you invest into your own character or that of your children. The disciplined man will do the important things first, the selfish things when he has free time.
A disciplined man does not indulge his bestial nature. A disciplined man is capable of controlling his sex drive. He isn’t compelled to pursue every woman he sees like a dog. Sex is a beautiful act of love between you and your spouse. Man loves. Animals breed.
A disciplined man is slow to anger. A moment of rage can damage a relationship permanently. It’s the small man that raises his fists in anger. Resorting to violence is the last resort of the disciplined man, but an early option for the weak-willed. Yelling at a child or loved one can wound as deeply as a physical assault. Words spoken in anger can cause irreparable damage to a relationship or permanently afflict someone’s self image. There is a reason that profanity is called a curse. Be disciplined enough to control your tongue.
The long-term harm of a lack of discipline is exponentially greater than the immediate cost of discipline. The disciplined man feeds the good wolf and starves the bad wolf.