What is self-discipline and why do we need it?

What is self-discipline and why do we need it?

My kids and my husband were off to do something fun, and I readily admit, I wanted to go and share their afternoon with them. I wanted to be with those I love, have some fun, and see and hear about what they were enjoying.

However, somewhere in my brain, and perhaps my heart, I knew I had work to do and I also knew I needed to get it done while I was fresh and alert. At the end of a tiring and busy day, my writing would suffer.

So, I opted to stay home and write and sent my family on its merry way to enjoy beautiful Southeast Texas together. This decision caused me to begin thinking about self-discipline and why some have it and some never seem to get it. How does one acquire a good dose of self-discipline? Is it necessary for success? Are there areas in our lives where we know we have not conquered the matter? (By the way, I don’t always make the right decision and exercise self-discipline about a matter, but I am working on it even at this stage in my life. I am also trying diligently to teach my grandchildren about the trait and how important it is to their young lives.)

I read many definitions of self-discipline, some by famous orators and others by friends who were willing to share their thoughts with me. I have combined some of the best thoughts and want to share them with you. I believe that self-discipline is the ability to motivate oneself in spite of negative surroundings, peer pressure, or our own emotional state. The three attributes I associate with it are willpower, hard work and persistence.

One man wrote that self-discipline is the product of persistent willpower. And willpower is the strength and ability to carry out certain tasks in the manner you have chosen for your life. When we exercise self-discipline based on character choices we have carefully made, we then can count on our self-discipline to step up to the plate and handle the situations we face daily in life. And yes, it is very necessary for any measure of success in anything we undertake to do.

Riding home in the car from a day trip to Lake Charles, I was talking earnestly to my almost 14-year-old granddaughter. Callie is beautiful, bright, fun, intelligent and has lots of friends. We jokingly say she is the social butterfly of our family, and there’s seldom a long span of time that she doesn’t receive phone calls and texts from friends. She went to a private Christian school before deciding to finish her high school education in a large public school where she can take part in a broader music, drama and science program, as well as other academic explorations. She has a tiny bit of anticipation about her choice, but feels strongly that it is the right one for her. Both of her parents agree.

I did my best to teach her that she has enough self-discipline in her young life to make good choices based on what she has been taught. I also told her that she would very likely face peer pressure to participate or become involved in things that are not best suited for her. And I urged her to rely on her own self-discipline to overcome the temptation.

Callie seemed to understand the need for self-discipline, and I am praying for each of my grandchildren as they start a new school year. I honestly think we, as adults, have no idea of the pressures that are on the children of our generation. While we’re praying, let’s also remember our teachers and administrators, coaches, staff members, bus drivers and medical personnel that work with our kids. This is a different world than many of us grew up in, I have come to believe.Oh, that the adults practiced self-discipline in many of their life choices as well.

Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.