I receive daily inspirational quotes that I love from email@example.com. One I received the other day really threw me for a loop.
“Self Discipline Can Kill Your Soul”
“Too much self-discipline will discourage your playful, wandering imagination. It’ll snuff out the flames of inspiration and creativity. And it’ll weigh you down with routines and logic. It simply isn’t spiritual.”
Why You Need Self-Discipline
After reading this provocative quote, I sat in a state of shock. One of the tenants I have held to my entire life is that self-discipline is the key or foundation to a happy or successful life. More than intelligence, drive, talent, or connections, self-discipline is the anchor that creates the algorithm for happiness.
I grew up in Catholic schools where self-discipline was the gold standard. It was the 11th Commandment of life. I observed the most successful, happy, and fulfilled people in our town practiced self-discipline whether they were nurses, teachers, doctors or parents. This was the taproot to a sustainable life, so you did not ever get too much off course.
There are many positive aspects to self-discipline. It builds inner strength and character. You develop an inner power that helps you resist many destructive temptations that create suffering in your life and in others lives such as drinking, drugs, philandering, gambling, and overeating, just to name a few.
With the advance of our technological society, we now desire instantaneous gratification. Self-discipline teaches us to develop patience and talk a longer view of life.
Why Self-Discipline May Be Overrated
That piercing quote still gnaws at me. Has all my self-discipline tampered down my soul in some way? How much as my self-discipline clouded my sense of wonder, awe, magic, discovery, creativity, and laughter? The focus of my life has been spirituality. My doctorate is in spirituality, and yet this quote tells me self-discipline is just not spiritual. Ouch!
When people called me, “Driven,” I felt honored and patted myself on the back for all my life’s hard work. But is being driven bondage and obsession as opposed to a life of freedom, awe, and wonder? What have I missed out of in life by being driven and self-disciplined? Again, that pesky quote keeps haunting me.
Happiness, Meaning, and Happiness is a Balancing Act
After spending some time contemplating this self-confidence dilemma, I have a new perspective. It is both-and. The experience of my long life informs me that self-discipline is essential for meaning, happiness, and success in life. This must be balanced with the spiritual essence of creativity, wonder, surprise, magic, and awe. This is the life that I have been blessed to live. Yes, I still tend to drift into the self-discipline camp when left to drift, but when the laughter, wonder, and happiness begins to evaporate, I wake up and dive into creativity and fun.
Mindfulness is the Key to Spiritual Self-Discipline
Mindfulness is the key to a balanced life of awareness and fulfillment. It takes self-discipline to practice mindfulness, and the result is becoming aware of your every thought, word, and emotion. This keeps you aware of your steady presence in both the spiritual and self-discipline world. One feeds the other. It is a marriage made in heaven and on earth!