Table of Contents:
Assessing yourself…………………….…………………………………… 3
Identifying your strengths……………………………………………………………………… 6
Rewiring your brain…………………………………………………………………………… 8
Working with failure……………………………………………………. 11
Harnessing patience…………………………………………………….. 14
Not so final thoughts…….………………………………………………. 16
This short guide is by no means a cure-all, a set of rigid instructions, nor the answers to every problem that stems from impulsive behavior and lack of discipline. The word “discipline” like any other, is subjective on an individual basis, meaning that what works well for some of us, may not for others. The cultivation of self-discipline is a process that takes time and is unique to all of us. While there is a general direction in the realms of sleep, exercise, diet, dealing with emotions and mental attitudes, the fine details are what differ from person to person. Please take this guide, and everything else read or heard from someone else, with a “grain of salt.”
Do plenty of research, and after you’ve done that, come to your conclusion and find what works best for you. Any advice given is from a personal perspective, taken from various techniques, found from many people around the world. None of this is advice from a medical doctor or physician. While we are all connected, there are subtle differences that make us unique, as we all learn and grow in different ways. I include several personal experiences I have had, to show you that we are all on a journey, and none of us are exempt from failure or success.
“Half the time you’re thinking, you’re actually listening.”-Terence Mckenna
Evaluating yourself is vital to self-discipline, and we often try to start new habits without being aware of the ones we currently have. Even the smallest moments are laden with patterns, and our broader habits stem from the micro-decisions we make. The emphasis of this is to realize that our emotions are out of our control, and our thoughts are semi-voluntary, and that is after we have honed our minds. What we have complete control over are our actions.
• Pay attention to how your posture is when standing, sitting, or laying. The spine should be straight, shoulders back, and this should be comfortable. Straight posture should not be tiring, and while you may have to remember to do this correctly, you may be doing it incorrectly if you are straining, or it is painful. • Notice your breathing, and focus on breathing slowly and deeply opposed to rapidly and shallow. Breathing should include your whole body, not just the lungs. Expand your stomach with each inhales, the shoulders should move back slightly, and with enough practice, there will be no sound with your breath.
The significant three factors in mental and emotional health are the necessities of life: sleeping, eating, and exercising. If we do not have a healthy balance of these physiological needs, how can we expect our communication skills or energy to be up to par? Ask yourself for what your balance is, and wait patiently for a response. Go on to ask yourself these questions, and find what works best for you:
• How many (carbs, fats, calories, fruits, veggies, meats, grains, etc.) do I need each day? • How many hours of sleep do I need, and in what conditions? (temperature, noise, from when to when, partner?) • How much time do I need to spend on cardio, each muscle group (legs, back, abs, chest, etc.) Free weights, mechanical? • Finding this balance takes time, and the key is to listen to what your body is telling you intuitively. Be patient, and it will work itself out.
Meditation has an enormous impact on your mental and physical state and takes as little as 2-510 minutes. Along with silent, still meditation, I have found that the most efficient way to is to bring every moment into a state of meditative awareness, such as writing and moving right now. Here are a few ways to meditate, and you can use them at any time, by sitting (legs can be crossed. However they do not have to be) or lying down. These range from most comfortable to more difficult. These are also symbiotic with yoga or Tai Chi. Calming music is helpful for beginners.
7-11 Meditation- inhale for seven counts, exhale for 11. The purpose is to release more negative energy while sustaining positive energy. We already have a foundation of positive within us, and merely need to release the extra.
Kundalini Meditation- after getting settled into your meditation for a minute or two, focus on your heartbeat for the duration of your session. As you start to breathe deeper and slower, your heart rate will slow. Slowing your heart rate can help in stressful situations, where otherwise you would react erratically. Kundalini is very helpful in connecting with positive, loving energy, and naturally, your thoughts will drift to moments of love and connection.
Transcendental Meditation (T.M.)- After getting settled into your routine, chant a slow, steady tone as you exhale. T.M. may be done either out loud, or silently, but the key is to focus on the constant sound. This form of meditation can help you build confidence in yourself, “boost” your ego in a positive way and connect you more with your strengths. Many wealthy, prosperous, and high-end performers have been known to use this method.
Qi Gong- This method is native to the Chinese, and while there are over 75 different forms broken down into dynamic or passive, the focus here is to channel your energy with your movements, or a central location such as the solar plexus. One method is to cup your hands around a small “ball” without touching your hands together, and focusing on the “ball” of energy as it slowly gets bigger. Once your session has finished, slowly push the energy into your solar plexus or heart.
Another useful tool for self-assessment is to prioritize and manage your time.
❖ Write down 1-3 tasks on a whiteboard or notebook to get done that day.
❖ You get a little boost of confidence every time you complete your list, and the smaller the list, the more you can get done that day.
❖ Start with one single task, and add another after a few weeks or a month. I recommend not going more than five.
❖ Once you complete your list, you still have time to do other tasks, and thus you train your brain to feel much more productive.
❖ Not completing your list or having too much will result in feeling overwhelmed, and a defeated attitude.
There is a free software called RescueTime which is also a big help in showing you how much time you spend where while on the computer, and you can customize your usage by categorizing websites into productive/unproductive.
One last tool I use to assess myself consistently is to journal. Run through your day and as you record the events (not everything you ate and every word that was spoken necessarily, although find what works for you), write about the things you did right, what you did wrong, and what you learned. Each day, that which you did wrong slowly transforms into something you do right as you improve yourself. Not only will you have books full of all of the events that happened over the years, but you can also watch yourself grow emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
“To enjoy life, you don’t need fancy nonsense, but you do need to control your time and realize that most things just aren’t as serious as you make them out to be.”
― Timothy Ferriss
Identifying your strengths
“There no longer has to be a difference between who you are and what you do.”
― Gary Vaynerchuk
Every one of us is born with a handful of skills we are phenomenal at and another handful of crafts or activities we love. Several of those will overlap, and that is where your niche is.
▪ If you are stuck on how to figure out what your calling is, reminisce back to your childhood, at what your dreams were then. You will come across 5-10 activities or people you dreamed of being.
▪ A common misconception when finding our strengths thinks that what you love or are good at have to make you money, that income is the primary reason for doing this.
▪ Money can keep the lights on, food in the fridge, and buy you many experiences, and it is vital to not be hedonistic with your hard-earned cash.
▪ Money can never replace the feeling you get when you make someone else’s day better.
▪ Money can never replace the comfort and empathy of another human being.
Money is significant though, and some of our talents may not be able to make us money. We also may be good at things we aren’t necessarily passionate about. That can be your primary source of income, while you spend your evenings working on turning what you love into your day job, your service to the world.
✓ Ask the 5-10 people closest to you what your strengths and talents are. ✓ Ask these same people what you are terrible at.
• Stop doing all the stuff you hate. It isn’t worth the paycheck. If you can’t stop because you need the paycheck, spend your free time (5pm-12pm, weekends) working towards something better.
✓ Collect data on yourself, even from people who follow you on social media, or distant relatives.
There are many things that only others see in us. These are often hard to see in ourselves, and we need an outside perspective to gain this knowledge.
Every single one of us is intertwined in that nobody successful made it there alone. The world is connected on many levels, and as humans, we grow and prosper when we play our strengths. The chances are that a lot of the things you are already doing will directly or indirectly affect your ability to influence the world.
Please let gratitude be the number one take away from this writing. I end each night in my journal by writing down at least three things that I am thankful for. If you aren’t grateful every day for all of the people who have helped you get here, all of the “stuff” you have, and the opportunities you are presented with, then self-discipline will be half empty.
The four necessities of life come down to shelter, water, fire, and food in that order. Everything else is merely a luxury, and remember that it can all be taken from you through natural disaster or otherwise at any moment.
Identify your strengths, be thankful for who you are and what you have, and your dreams and goals will become crystal clear.
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.”
― Corrie ten Boom
Rewiring your brain
“You’re going to pay a price for every bloody thing you do and everything you don’t do. You don’t get to choose to not pay a price. You get to choose which poison you’re going to take. That’s it.”
― Jordan B. Peterson
Rewiring your brain is not as difficult as it sounds. Even if you are a fully matured adult, it can be done, there just may be a bit more unwiring to do, as our perspectives harden as we age. If you can learn to understand what is happening in your body when you give in to temptation, along with what is happening when you tell that part of your personality “no,” you have won half the battle. The other half is doing it, and replacing that impulse with something healthier and more beneficial to the long-term you.
A unique trait of being human that Canadian clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson talks about is that we are not only who we are now, but we are continually transforming into something more as time progresses. The question is then, what do you wish to be more of? Take a minute, close your eyes, and ask yourself this question: Who do you wish to become more of?
Take a few minutes to ask yourself this question.
Who do you wish to become more of?
Our bodies are filled with billions and billions of microscopic neurons that are the foundation for our minds and actions. Every habit you have is a series or trail of neurons that strengthens over time as you reinforce it.
➢ Our nervous system utilizes chemical and electrical messages which form our thoughts, feelings, and overall, our states of consciousness. The science behind this is profound and intense (there are over 50 neurotransmitters), but what you need to know for now is how dopamine affects your reward pathways.
When you are addicted to something, such as a drug or activity, that part of your personality justifies and finds excuses to continue getting the dopamine burst from said activity. This character will lie, deny, repress, and take advantage of others to keep getting that fix.
This notion also applies to healthy habits, (not the lying and malicious activity) meaning that we are naturally pleasure-seeking creatures. If you find yourself running off somewhere to get your feel good (avoiding social situations or responsibility) you may wish to go back and assess your habits.
✓ There are some gray areas here, such as coffee, carbs, and sugars, masturbation, electronics, work/relax balance, exercise. With all of this, it is essential to find the balance that works for you. ✓ Too much of anything can be harmful.
It is possible to rewire this part of your brain, just by telling it no. Pay attention not only to the burning desire to
✓ have the cigarette
✓ binge the tv show
✓ eat your emotions
but also, the events that led up to it. (these are just examples, there are thousands, millions of activities that we can be addicted to, even healthy choices such as running or going vegan). If you have tried to quit something multiple times and told yourself “To hell with it” ten minutes before you give in, that circuit of “To hell with it” gets strong.
Breaking these habits requires you to be in control of your actions, slow down and realize that you don’t need this. The more you tell that vice no, the easier it gets.
But, you have to replace the bad habit with something more beneficial, be it
✓ drinking water instead of smoking
✓ reading or going for a walk instead of hours of TV
✓ fasting intermittently or eating only when you are hungry
It takes time, and although the road to self-discipline gets harder, you get stronger.
Studies say it takes anywhere from 21-36 days to create a new habit.
As you build small habits, you will find that it is hard to let yourself down. When you are in the mode of “I have no good habits” (you shower, right?) it is easier to give up.
Start small, such as drinking more water. Cutting back TV by an hour. Eating a few more vegetables and fruit. Meditate for 3 minutes. Walk around the block. As you slowly build small habits over a few weeks or months, it will be harder to stop doing them. As said before, these neural pathways will be strengthened each time you do that activity, reinforcing the habit.
You will be surprised at how much can change in a week, a month, six months, a year. If you think back over the past year, there might be a lot of things you would have done differently. Instead of dwelling on those, decide what you can do right now, so next year this time, you can thank yourself.
Jordan Peterson likes to talk about how we are goal oriented creatures, which we aim for targets as you would in archery, and we have to master our close-up goals before creating more distance. We have to create the right balance of challenge for ourselves, so that we may continuously improve, without being overwhelmed.
He has hundreds of videos of his recorded lectures on YouTube, as well as a Self-Authoring program that can help you figure out who you are and who you wish to become.
“Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be. If we do our best, we are a success.”
― Zig Ziglar
Working with Failure
“Failure is an opportunity. If you blame someone else, there is no end to the blame. Therefore, the Master fulfills her own obligations and corrects her own mistakes. She does what she needs to do and demands nothing of others.”
Failure is something we all go through. Trying to avoid it is very practical, but there will always be unseen consequences. We can do our best to prevent these negatives by continually practicing our work, such as speech or sport.
I have had thousands of failures over the course of my life, and I am grateful for all of them. I have “failed” at thousands of conversations, essentially saying something that upset someone else, irritated them, or gave too much of myself too soon, resulting in awkward stares or a short relationship. I have let my anger get the best of me and then blamed my feelings on others. Here are a few of my most notable failures.
I broke my knuckle on a bully’s face, ruining the chance to travel around the country and pitch on an all-star baseball team.
Just when I thought I had found the right place to start earning money online, my computer kept freezing, frustrating me to no end. It stopped freezing when I finally gave up on that venture.
I wanted to be the running back for the Chicago Bears, only to have several family members tell me that my chances of doing so were one in a million and that the brain injuries weren’t worth it. I gave up after that.
I had had seven failed relationships before I realized that I am a huge part of my problem. (I have since made significant life changes, and improved myself)
I am thankful for each failure and setback that I have had, along with the failures to come, as they are guideposts along my journey.
Failure is where we learn about ourselves, and points from which we can grow. Once you can learn to love the process of losing, you will begin to succeed much more.
Look at every single famous person out there, and they will be able to confidently talk about their failures and the persistence and determination that got them to where they are now. Here are some success stories:
Lisa Kudrow got fired from Frasier, the most popular TV show of the time, before being Phoebe of Friends. After getting fired, she was quite down on herself and thinking she had nothing left to lose; she hit on someone at a party who was “out of her league.” This man became her husband, and they have been together for 15 years.
JK Rowling got denied by 12 publishers before becoming the first billionaire female author.
Stephan King’s “Carrie” was rejected by 30 publishers, and his wife dug it out of the trash before he submitted it to the company who published it. He has since written over 50 books.
Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College and traveled around India, exploring the depths of his mind before starting Apple. A few years later he got fired from Apple and went on to create Pixar. His annual salary was $1, although his net worth was 8.3 billion when he died.
Michael Jordan famously once said “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
An Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist by the name of Victor Frankl spent three years in concentration camps, and in that time, he lost his mother, brother, and wife. While enduring this extreme suffering, traveling in an ice storm on the road to a concentration camp, he discovered the truth of life, the final wisdom. “Love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which Man can aspire… In a position of utter desolation, when Man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way – an honorable way – in such a position Man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment.”
You are going to mess up, say the wrong things, piss off the person you thought you needed to impress and get your heart broken. I have learned that just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does, a smidge. Right there, at your lowest, just hold on. Be patient, wait it out, and do what you can. Life will surprise you with something beautiful; I promise you that. Do what needs to be done, every single day, even when you don’t feel like it.
“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture
“The two hardest tests on the spiritual road are the patience to wait for the right moment and the courage not to be disappointed with what we encounter.”
― Paulo Coelho
What purpose does Self-discipline have if it is egotistical and done to impress others? If you choose to embark on the road of discipline, create a life of value, of meaning, of purpose. Discipline is about being patient, and along with that, kind to yourself and others. Have you ever seen a kind person who was impatient?
A big issue I have had in life is trust. I have been let down by many people and myself many times, not sure which path to take, not trusting my ideas and feelings, nor the words of others, thus filling my body with doubt.
I have since learned to trust whatever is happening, and that I can only control my actions. Through controlling my own behavior, I can then play my part to influence the world. The same goes for you. When you take your time, focus on breathing and listening to what life is showing you, regardless of what the person is saying or the experience you are having, things go much more smoothly.
With this attitude in mind, do not be careless with your finite amount of time. Know when to say no, and when to stay where you are. Trust your gut, and listen to your heart.
This act of trusting the current moment has dramatically increased my ability to be patient.
My mindset now is to pay attention to whatever is happening, that what is happening right now is the perfect lesson I need at the moment.
Doing so will keep you in a conscious connection with your soul. Being aware and present in every moment, you will discover the magic of synchronicity.
With your macro principles in mind, spend right now working on your micro goal for the day.
If you had $86,400 to spend every day, but it disappeared at the end of the day, what would you spend it on? We have 86,400 seconds in a day, and yet so much of it goes to doing things that do not bring us further from our pains, and closer to the life we desire.
Gary Vaynerchuk pushes the idea of putting your head down, keeping your mouth shut, and working your face off for 24 months with no breaks so you can eat caviar for the rest of your life. (No breaks meaning don’t take a weekend off, don’t get off work at five and veg in front of the TV for the rest of the night, and then complain about not having the life you want.)
While this man worked from 7am-10pm for seven years, only taking breaks for the New York Jets, (He built his family business from $2-3 million a year to $50 million a year) and breathes his job, we all have to find what works best for us.
One thing to make clear about his philosophy is this doesn’t mean to literally do nothing but your jobs or school until you make it. Be sure to rest every so often (I have a half hour sand timer that I keep at my desk, so I’m not sitting in front of a screen for hours on end) and spend time with family and friends, because enjoying life is the reason for all of what we do. Just make sure you still get done what you need to.
Discipline is not something to hate, but a practice to enjoy every step of the journey. Above all, find your purpose, see what works for you, and be patient with the process you are going through. The most prominent things in life worth having are challenging to get to, and take time. I have found that learning how to discipline myself in being patient has helped me become more kind, to love myself and every aspect of life.
“Slow and steady wins the race. You’re only competing with yourself.”
Not so Final Thoughts
While many different people were mentioned in the guide, there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of other humans who would have equally had the “right” words to say. I went with my gut when looking for quotes and examples, along with choosing some people I already follow or listen to, such as Tim Ferriss, Gary Vaynerchuk, Jordan Peterson, Terence Mckenna, and Lao Tzu. The latter two of these five are no longer living, (Lao Tzu is thousands of years old, and no one is sure if he existed, as he was said to be over two hundred years old when he wrote the famous book, “Tao Te Ching.”). This guide will continue to grow as my journey continues, and there are thousands of other guides out there on discipline. Take care of your body, immerse yourself in a good life, and make the most of your time here on Earth, by being present in every moment. I have included a few links to short videos from each of the mentors listed above.
Tim: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Mlzz1OaY1U Gary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyRot04r5-U Jordan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAFO3v_Ucio Terence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAW8wbN90GU&t=2s Lao: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFb7Hxva5rg
I am fortunate to share with you all what Creation has taught me. Thank you for your time, and I hope to hear from you about your journey.