Published On: Tue, Jul 15th, 2014

The gains of self-discipline

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“Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound. The man who does not shrink from self-crucifixion can never fail to accomplish the object upon which his heart is set. This is true of earthly as of heavenly things. Even the man whose object is to acquire wealth must be prepared to make great personal sacrifices before he can accomplish his object; and how much more so he who would realize a strong and well-poised life.” – JAMES ALLEN


You require high levels of self-discipline if you truly desire to develop all your inner resources and fulfill your true potential. Throughout the ages, in all religions and philosophies, the highest human good or idea has been peace of mind. Your ability to achieve your own peace of mind is the true measure of your success and the key determinant of your happiness.

To develop spiritually, and to become a fully functioning person, you must regularly apply self-discipline and self-control to your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Spiritual development, inner peace, and the experience of joy all require self-mastering and self-control.


Learning to “detach”

To succeed in the “outer world,” you must discipline yourself to focus and concentrate, work hard at your job, take continuous action toward your goals, and become better and more capable, as you move onward and upward in life.

To succeed in the “inner world,” however, requires almost the opposite abilities. To achieve inner peace, you must discipline yourself to let go of everything that can disrupt your sense of inner peace and contentment.

The main cause of human suffering and unhappiness is “attachment.” People become attached to ideas, opinions, and material things, and then they are reluctant to let go of them. Sometimes people become so preoccupied with these external factors that it affects their mental and physical health – even keeping them awake at night.

When you practise detachment, separating yourself emotionally from things or outcomes, the negative emotions involved stop as well, like unplugging a light from the socket.

Priority of happiness

Most people have a deep down need to be right. However, when you stop caring if you are right or wrong, all the emotions surrounding this need for rightness disappear. Dr. Gerald Jampolsky asked the great question: “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?” Some people become passionate about their political or religious beliefs, all of which have been learnt from someone else in some way. But when you put those beliefs aside for a while, they lose their ability to stir your emotions or to inflame your anger.

I have friends and meet people with ideas and opinions that range all over the political and religious spectrums. In most cases, we get along well together because we simply put aside the discussion of opinions on which we differ. We consciously and deliberately discipline ourselves to detach from these ideas, and we focus instead on subjects that we agree on and in which we share common interests.


Quit the blame game

The chief cause of negative emotions and the primary destroyer of inner peace is blame. As I mentioned earlier in the book, it is not possible to have a negative emotion without having someone or something to blame in some way or for something.

Blame requires one or both of two factors to exist. The first is identification. This occurs when you take something personally: You identify with it. As soon as you decide to feel that someone has done or said something negative that affects your personal interests in some way, you immediately become angry and blame that person.

Even if someone who is hurrying to work, completely preoccupied, and who may have just had a fight with his or her spouse accidentally cuts you off in traffic, you can immediately become angry at that person, a complete stranger, because you took his driving behaviour personally.

But when you discipline yourself to detach and stop taking things personally, the negative emotional charge connected with the person or incident stops almost immediately. For example, when someone cuts you off in traffic, you can detach from the situation emotionally by saying to yourself, “Oh well, he’s probably in a hurry to get to work. Maybe he’s late.”




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The gains of self-discipline