Self-discipline begins with the mastery of your thoughts. If you don’t control what you think, you can’t control what you do.

Over the past several weeks, we have discussed the concept of positive addiction.   As we’ve seen earlier, the concept suggests that happy, successful, and productive individuals routinely engage in patterned behavior, just as negatively addicted individuals have sad, self-destructive habits.  The key to either success or failure in life is found in the “routines” we follow.

Earlier, we laid out the first three “positive addictions.”  They were:

  1. Giving and receiving love (Addiction Can Be a Good Thing)
  2. Gaining worth and recognition (Case Against Humility)
  3. Having fun (Are We Having Fun Yet?)

So today we are outlining the last and, I believe, most important of the four successful habits/addictions that lead us to a better life.  It is:

  • Self discipline

There is a certain irony in this final, most significant pattern of self –redeeming conduct.  That is, it represents the total opposite of what we normally picture as negatively addictive behavior.  For example, an alcoholic or drug addict exhibits the reverse of self discipline.  Let’s consider the thought process, the beliefs if you will, of such individuals.  Alcoholics understand (despite their verbal denials with others) that their drinking is out of control.  Their self–hate and shame flows from their frustration over their own inability to self discipline, to terminate their sad behavior pattern.

The solution?  Self discipline. 

In the case of negatively addicted individuals, experience teaches that more than personal will power is needed.  Addicts ultimately learn that they need to turn to others (i.e. counselors, 12 Step support groups, and family members) to provide the required strength to reverse their deteriorating pathway. 

The situation is, blessedly, the opposite for those who are “positively addicted to self discipline.  They do not depend upon the strength of others to move forward in the life tasks.  And, like a mechanical generator, it delivers power while replenishing its own energy.

Homework:  Think of a time in your life when you completed something  on your own.  Others may have helped in some way but, ultimately,  only you could have willed its achievement.  Perhaps it was the earning of an academic degree, or the building of a home, or mending of a relationship.  If it took time and effort, it probably wasn’t much “fun” in the doing.  But the internal gratification that flowed from it exceeded the transitory joy of pleasure or recreation.

It felt good.  And it still does, even years later.

So, courtesy of the wisdom of Dr. William Glasser, a roadmap has been laid out for all of us to follow, courtesy of his four positive addictions.  Get on its path and enjoy the journey.

With self-discipline, most anything is possible. Roosevelt