As a society, we often think of people who are self-disciplined as people who are deprived of happiness and the pleasures of life. Why does she go to the gym every morning instead of sleeping in? Why is my co-worker working late instead of sneaking out early? It must be miserable to be that strict and disciplined, right? On the contrary, I have found that people who are self-disciplined are very happy. In fact, they may be happier that people who indulge themselves without worrying about the consequences. Here are the reasons I believe this to be true:
Avoiding Desires and Conflicts
People with self-control tend to be well-satisfied with life because they feel good about the disciplined choices they are making. They achieve this satisfaction by actively avoiding situations that may lead them to have problematic desires.
Here’s what I mean. If your goal is to lose weight by eating healthy, why would you put yourself in a situation where your goal can be compromised? When you have self-discipline, you don’t stare longingly at the dessert menu or sneakily add sugary items your grocery cart. In the end you are rewarding yourself with greater long-term happiness (reaching and maintaining a healthy weight) by forgoing short-term happiness (indulging in that dessert or bag of chips).
If you understand your desires and have the self-control to avoid them, you feel fewer negative emotions. Controlling the excesses of modern life is a true secret to happiness in this day and age.
Reaping the Benefits of Discipline
There are many benefits to having discipline and self-control. Disciplined people aren’t deprived and miserable because they do what is good for them. They forego the instant pleasure of consumption or relaxation for the benefits of overall being.
Going to the gym isn’t as easy or instantly gratifying as sleeping in for an extra hour, but the hard work and discipline involved makes you proud and happy of your accomplishment, along with all the benefits of exercising.
Your co-worker who is staying late in order to meet his deadline is actively working towards completing his goal instead of putting his feet up at home. The sense of accomplishment he will gain will make him happier in the long run, and he will reap the benefits of completing his work on time.
On the flip side, all work and no play makes Jill a dull girl and the gym-obsessed that have nothing to talk about but their work out routines and muscle spasms can be a little boring too. I think it's important to balance focussed energy with a little wild. Learning when to give yourself those little things you crave, without damaging the bigger picture goals is the art of balance - another key to happiness.
We all know the rush we get when we complete a task we think to be tedious or too hard to accomplish. Reaching the top of the mountain takes a lot of work and effort, but it’s worth it for the view from the top. People with discipline and self-control get to enjoy this sense of worth and accomplishment far more than individuals who over-indulge.
The next time you are faced with a situation where you can choose the easy way or the disciplined approach, think to yourself: which choice will make me happier in the long run? It’s #yourWORLD, so why not live to your highest potential?