It is of immense importance that there should be among the more opulent and comfortable classes a large number of minds trained by early discipline to this habit of restraint and sobriety. - Walter Bagehot
Discipline is a principle that should be applied to all aspects of one’s life. Discipline extends into the tenets of health, wealth, and wisdom, all three of which, are fundamental to human beings ability to flourish. Health is promoted by fasting and exercising. Wealth is gained by saving and investing. Wisdom is acquired by studying and reflecting. All components perform a beautiful dance between restraint and exertion. Ones objective is to find the golden mean in everything one does.
The power one obtains by practicing discipline is profound. What do I mean when I state discipline accrues power? It is not intuitive, but the more discipline one has the more power one gains. Discipline allows one to access untold freedoms that are shrouded away by excessive choice and abundance.
For example - self imposed discipline in the form of short term stressors like running sprints is healthy since much of the developed world is devoid of true fight or flight situations. Ironically, modern life is so easy and mundane for most that stress and forced discipline have to be self imposed to elicit beneficial consequences.
For instance in antiquity the Spartans were lean and austere, they trained and hustled from childhood to be dominant warriors. The Stoics taught that one can only control ones reactions to things, not the things in and of themselves in order to be intellectually dominant. These ancient cultures grasped the power of discipline and leveraged it to their advantage. This is mostly lost in modernity as abundance envelops life with access to media, sustenance, sex, and credit.
For an example in modern times, if you set a goal of avoiding processed food you can then be freed of the worries about where you are going to eat or what you will snack on. This power manifests because you are disciplined, you made your meals in advance, you picked a healthy menu option, or you decided to fast from food entirely. This is only one example of many, but it paints a clear picture as to how discipline creates individual power. Next, let’s look into cravings we all experience on a daily basis.
One can be the master of their cravings, rather than being a servant to them. This may seem counter intuitive at first, but establishing what prompts cause unwanted cravings is the key. Prompts are experiences that lead either to positive habits or negative habits. For example, person A becomes stressed and they eat chocolate, person B becomes stressed and they go hiking. Both of these reactions (habits) are natural responses to cope with stress. Now let’s break the example down further; both person A and person B have the same prompt (stress), but person B has a healthy habit as the default to with stress, while person A has a less healthy habit associated with stress. In this example person B has the upper hand because they have been able to identify a prompt and default to a healthy habit that is beneficial to them. Establishing ones defaults is not easy, it takes active reflection and discipline to ensure the habits one falls back on our optimal for health, freedom, and power.
We will call this feedback loop system P.H.B. Prompt, Habit, Benefit.
Prompts are experiences that lead to habits followed by benefits. For example, you open the cupboard and see cookies (trigger), you eat the cookies (habit), you feel satisfaction from the sugar (benefit). Now let’s apply a healthy P.H.B of someone who has established that cookies are a prompt for them that leads to a negative habit. This person opens the cupboard sees cookies (prompt), closes the cupboard and makes a cup of green tea (habit), they feel satisfaction from the warm liquid and small dose caffeine of the tea (benefit).
There are no secrets to establishing your own P.H.B system. A personal P.H.B system will assist you in becoming a person that craves exercise and healthy eating because you have now created healthy benefits from your habits. The examples above are elementary, but P.H.B principles can be applied to countless scenarios in your daily life.
A P.H.B system will allow you to make the right choices effortlessly. Now it is up to you to identify your prompts, habits, and benefits. Once you identify these areas it will be easy for you to establish a P.H.B system to override bad habits and start reaping the healthy benefits.
Thus, applying discipline to ones life will accrue ample power and unlock personal freedoms. Establish what is important, a personal telos, and plan to cultivate full potentiality. Once completed one simply needs to stay the course and apply discipline to anything one chooses to accomplish. Free yourself from sloth and sclerosis by stating committed to self discipline to accrue personal power.