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Self-Discipline

Self-discipline is the ability to stick with what you believe in and current plans, in place of the desire to do otherwise.

Also known as Will Power, self-discipline describes the ability of a lifeform to stay focused on a problem until it is solved, or a task until it is completed.

Too Much Self-Discipline Can Be Destructive

Too much self-discipline can lead to obsessive behaviour and inflexibility, while too little leads to poor problem solving and thus lower self-esteem. Overly strong determination can blind lifeforms from the reality of a situation. You can run around flapping your arms trying to fly and be so determined to do it all day, everyday, until your arms 'break'. It is healthy to put a limit on it.

Insanity Defined

A definition of insanity that I like goes like this: "The definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result each time". In my opinion too much self-discipline can at its worst cause insanity, and at its least create certain behavioural problems.

Remain Flexible and Open to New Ideas

The only constant in the universe is change. A lifeform must adapt to changes to survive. Lifeforms that hold on too tight to thoughts and habits rarely adapt to changing circumstances to their own peril.

 

Humans who rigidly stick to tradition become outdated and ineffective. Fixed thinking rarely allows them to see the reality of a situation or learn new helpful skills. Often so much effort and heartache has gone into learning a skill that a person becomes emotionally attached to it and refuses to adapt away from it. This also occurs when a person's belief or skill has saved them from previous personal pain.

 

An overly rigid and inflexible lifeform will die off as can be seen from current and previous extinction events. Mammals and birds primarily survived the extinction of the dinosaurs because they were flexible enough to survive the changes that killed off all else, this was biological. Humans have evolved physically to live in most climates and now their mind has evolved into a complex 'machine' which needs to adapt. Human groups have died off because they could not adapt to changes in their circumstances. A healthy determination to reach new lands or develop new farming techniques may have helped.

 

Consider medieval Europeans, they thought that the world was flat. They held on so tightly to this belief, and many other beliefs like it, that their society did not progress much for over a thousand years. When Christopher Columbus challenged this belief he discovered the Americas. He and others like him challenged the tightly held beliefs that kept society poor and held back progress. Over the following centuries trade flourished, colonies grew, engineering, health conditions, and medical science improved. Unfortuantely this growth did not coincide with the same amount of ethical growth as the powerful used these new discoveries against those who did not have them.

 

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Too Little Self-Discipline Leads to Poor Outcomes

Imagine if the great problem solvers of the past changed their minds frequently and couldn't be bothered to complete anything? We would live in a very different world. They actually stuck at a problem until it was solved and adapted to each sub-problem as required. Many were obsessed and were lucky in their outcomes, but largely at great personal expense - most people were unsuccessful. Unfortunately genius and insanity sometimes go hand in hand.

Creating Balanced Self-Discipline

Nothing is worth destroying your mental health over. Contentment, enthusiasm and stability is far healthier than a pile of cash or a large trinket. Self-esteem is about knowing you can solve your problems, not necessarily the outcomes.

 

My suggestion is to be self-disciplined within manageable limits but be flexible in the overall plan. Stay focused for reasonable amounts of time, take breaks, relax and then get back to it. Enthusiasm is more important, but too much enthusiasm leads to exhaustion and mental breakdowns. Know your limits, emotionally and physically, your spirit and self-esteem will thank you.

 

Rest is as important as work. Setting your fixed, manageable amount of time for effort per day can allow you last far longer than long hours.