How disciplined are you? Is it a mindset? Do you delay doing something (e.g. watching TV or reading a book) until something else is done (e.g. kitchen straightened or homework completed)? Are you regimented in your lifestyle? For example, on Monday, Wednesday, Friday do you always work out in the morning?
According to merriam-webster.com one of the definitions for discipline: "to train (yourself) to do something by controlling your behavior".
I read two articles recently that got me thinking about discipline. The first was about the Dominican Republic boxer, Adonis Peguero and the other was about the longitudinal "marshmallow" study.
Adonis Peguero is the son of Haitian migrants living in the Dominican Republic. Life for his family and neighbors is quite hard. There is difficulty in finding jobs since the sugar cane plantations have closed. Growing up, Peguero was quite of a hot-head, "I just couldn’t control myself or my anger. It made me very aggressive." A neighbor introduced him to boxing and to a whole different mindset. " "He told us that boxing wasn’t really a sport. It was an art," Peguero says. "He told us that in order to be a good boxer, you first had to be a person of good character. A person of quality, who can control his anger and his fear." The big thing is that Peguero found discipline which led him to concentrate on his goal of being successful in boxing. That discipline gave him more than physical success through boxing: discipline has given him direction and purpose.
The marshmallow study is the classic psychological study looking at preschoolers and if and how long they would wait until they ate a marshmallow. The child is placed in a room with only a table, chair and a plate with one marshmallow in front of him/her. The researcher tells the child that if he/she waits and doesn't eat the marshmallow, when she returns she will give the child a second marshmallow. So by waiting they can double their culinary delight. The researcher leaves the room and the child is videotaped as he/she sits.
The videos are priceless. Click here to see
In looking at some of the subjects many years later they noticed that those children who demonstrated delayed gratification- waited to eat the marshmallow- had less body mass, scored higher SAT scores, had a better ability to plan and to handle stress. In general they were better with self-control and will power. Of course there are many factors that influence whether a child would wait or not. (If a child never had an adult follow through with what he/she said, then the child would probably eat the marshmallow and not wait.) And the study's point is not to show that it is predetermined by a marshmallow whether a person can delay gratification. There are also studies that show that the children could wait after they had received strategies on how to distract themselves. The children were told to imagine the marshmallow as a cloud or pillow, and to think of the reward (two marshmallows) they would receive by just waiting a small amount of time.
There are times when I need to revisit my attitude towards discipline and self-control. I think I am relatively a disciplined person but at times I am not. When I find myself doing the same thing over and over, not accomplishing anything and then feeling self-loath because I am not progressing towards a goal, I need to step back and reevaluate my discipline practices: What am I trying to achieve? What is the bigger picture? Do I need to focus on a smaller goal in order to get back on track? Where have I had success with discipline in the past? What were the strategies that I used? Can I apply any of those in my current situation?
Are there things that cause you to be stuck? Does lack of self-control derail you in your day to day life? Would a better focus help you with any outcome?
What about you? Are you disciplined?