Self-Discipline: Willpower, Restraint, Resolve, Determination, Self-Control, Character, Drive, Courage, Diligence and Endurance. None of these traits or characteristics occurs by accident, nor do they magically appear: They have nothing to do with luck or genetics. These traits are deliberately developed and cultivated by men and women in all walks of life in order to achieve greatest. When a person possesses these traits, they acquire the capacity to shape their destiny - through wisdom and perseverance.
Perhaps we should ask: What makes us human? What distinguishes us from other living beings on the earth? The true essence of being human seems to bring to mind an endless list of attributes and activities, both positive and negative. Self-awareness, speech and symbolic cognition, nimble thumbs, principles or ethics, and the capacity to imagine: these are just a few of the traits that distinguish us from other species.
Unlike creatures of the animal kingdom, we possess the ability to choose the path we will travel in this life because we possess, self-awareness and the ability to choose between right and wrong. Animals survive by instincts, living according to their desires: they are controlled by their immediate desires. Human beings, however, through deliberate training and the exercise of our free will, can learn to control destructive urges and impulses. We can transform negative behavior and attitudes into enormously creative, positive and beneficial ones. Every man, woman and child enjoys this incredible ability.
Every action we take begins with an idea, a thought. We can train our mind through self-discipline to generate consistently positive thought which will always lead to positive action. Action → Reaction OR Cause → Effect.
When people train themselves through self discipline to control their thought process, as a result their speech will project encouragement, trust and hope creating the same feelings in others. Because consistently exercising self discipline takes maturity and wisdom, people that come in contact with us each day begin to think that we are reliable and honest.
If we chose a life of self-discipline, then we live according to standards, principles and ethics that put the well being of others on the same par if not above our own! This takes training and the adherence to a code of conduct and principles, regardless of whether those around us conform or agree with us or not.
If we indeed aspire to live peacefully, then we have to learn the language of peace and speak it fluently. How do we do that? Self-Discipline!
We need self-discipline if we hope to help resolve the conflicts in the world today, but we need to resolve our own inner conflicts first! Every individual must attain inner peace and cultivate it every day of our lives before we can ever hope to see peace envelope the world.
Let us take a look at each act of self-discipline that we need to be practicing. It would be good to examine and understand certain basic universal disciplines that apply to everyone everywhere. Once we are aware of what is right and what is wrong only then, through self-discipline, can we recognize the right one, while avoiding the wrong one!
1. Respect For The Life of People and Living Beings
We need to respect all living things: other people as well as other living beings. You have broken this principle if:
- The victim was in fact alive when we performed the act of trying to kill it;
- We were aware that the victim was alive;
- We had the intention of killing it;
- We put forth effort into the act of killing;
- The victim died as a result of the effort we put into killing it.
2. Respect For The Property of Others
Respecting the property of others is vital to the successful survival of us all, in order to live in a peaceful environment. You have violated this principle if:
- There is a person who owns the object that will be taken;
- We know that this person cares about this object;
- We have the intention to take it without their permission;
- We put forth the effort in trying to take it, with or without being caught;
- We have success in taking the object not offered to us.
3. Sexual Misconduct
Here, we refer specifically to dishonorable intimacy with another person: we need to learn to control our emotions, physical desires, and disgraceful intimacy. It is important that when two people have a sexual relationship, it is based on mutual respect and both people carefully and responsibly consider the possible consequences of their actions. A person should not engage in physical intimacy with another if there is any risk of harmful consequences, such.
We have broken this principle if:
- The person whom we desire is someone morally and ethically unacceptable (i.e. married, a relative, involved in a committed relationship with another, etc.);
- We intend to become intimate with that person;
- We make the effort to become intimate with that person;
- We perform physical intimacy with that person.
Sexual misconducts may lead to
- Causing someone’s existing relationship to break down
- Sexually transmitted disease
- Unwanted pregnancy
- Emotional trauma and regret
- Damage to reputation
4. False or Hurtful Speech
In this instance, we will not only include false or spiteful speech, but rude and coarse speech along with gossip and “talking nonsense”. We must make a concerted effort to engage in only positive speech. We have broken this principle if:
- We say something that is not true;
- We have the intention of not telling the whole truth;
- We make the effort to not tell the whole truth;
- The listener misunderstands and is offended by what we have said.
5. Using Intoxicants
Self-discipline is vital in consciously refusing to pollute our bodies with intoxicants, regardless of the occasion, peer pressure, social or cultural traditions, events or special celebratory activities. This principle has been broken if:
- The substance that we will take is an intoxicant (i.e. alcohol, tobacco, illegal and non-medicinal drugs, etc.);
- We know that the substance we will take is an intoxicant;
- We have the intention to put it, in any form, inside of our body;
- We make the deliberate effort to introduce it into our bodies;
- Once it is introduced into our body it is irreversible.
If all of the conditions for each discipline are not met, then we do not fully break those disciplines. However, if we perform any one of the conditions, we still have to be willing to accept the consequences of our actions. Acceptance of these consequences makes us better people. When we confront the things that we have done through body, speech, and mind – AND we do not run away from them - it makes us stronger and better people with a greater depth of genuine inner peace. That is why we become worthy of respect: That is why we can walk with integrity.