“Right discipline consists, not in external compulsion, but in the habits of mind which lead spontaneously to desirable rather than undesirable activities.” -Bertrand Russel
Discipline is one of the most misunderstood qualities of a positive life. Commonly associated with punishment to gain obedience and all forms of coercion to exact specific behaviors from children and dogs, we have lost touch with the essential and historic transmission of a code of conduct from teacher to disciple.
It was the other day in my interview with Jan Phillips that she introduced this important connection to me – between the gift of discipline and the life path of being a disciple. The misjudgment of discipline begins with the externally induced self control that many of us had punished into us. True discipline is never externally imposed, rather it is an internal impulse.
Many people are seduced by the perception of freedom and the instant gratification that comes from seeking out your desires. This kind of freedom pales next to the hard won liberty that comes from sustained effort that real discipline instills. Staying the course for any real goals that have the power to drive a life down a chosen path is discipline.
The Positivity Quest is the most powerful form of internal discipline that I have practiced in a score of years. It isn’t that I haven’t begun good habits in the past, meditation has been a part of my life before, but never in a sustained and committed way that this quest has demanded. In order to have the ability to relate positively to my life every day, I had to find the time to meditate. The more I did it, the more I realized how much time and freedom I gained from exchanging that time from attending to my momentary whims.
Truthfully, this discipline is how I have learned to remember what I want out of my days. For me I had to have a mechanism of accountability. I think for most people, having to answer to someone else is one of the most powerful aids to keeping your word. Roy Smith said this: “Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability.” I like the idea of the fire, which has the power to refine you and shape you into better and better versions of yourself.