The Importance of Self-Discipline

The Importance of Self-Discipline, Habit and Perseverance

Self-discipline, which walks hand-in-hand with perseverance, is a key ingredient in the formula leading to success and happiness. In his book “A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy”, author William Irvine again and again examines the advantages bestowed by self-control/self-denial. Unfortunately, ours is more and more an age of instant gratification rather than self-denial. Like Lord Darlington in Oscar Wilde’s play “Lady Windermere’s Fan”, we find that we can resist everything except temptation. Of course many of us do practice self-discipline, foregoing immediate pleasures in the hopes of greater future rewards. Another key component to the machinery of self-discipline and delayed gratification is perseverance. Sometimes, when we pursue a goal, it may feel like we are trudging through a pond of wet cement. Plato once wrote, “The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself.” And one of the most powerful tools we can utilize to make that conquest a success is habit. From Will Durant’s book “The Story of Philosophy” he says, we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. When we create good habits and conquer ourselves, an irony comes into play: that conquest of self actually makes us stronger.

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