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Does Less Discipline Equal More Freedom?

Does Less Discipline Equal More Freedom?

Most of us think that more discipline relates to less freedom. The common line of thought is that discipline equals structure, which removes freedom.

This is what most of us think about the relationship between discipline and freedom:

    We assume that there is a correlation between the two ideas. More discipline results in less freedom.

    There is some logic to this thinking, but it’s false logic. If we were building houses, for example, freedom without discipline would offer some unusual results like these:

        People are randomly building homes without considering rules or geometry.

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        Without considering math and the laws of physics, these houses can’t sustain their own weight. Absolute freedom means that they can’t withstand wind or water. They are always a second away from collapse.

        How discipline frees you

          If the people who had built their homes had used a little more discipline, the houses would still be standing. Instead of dealing with the aftermath of collapse, they’d be living comfortable lives in their stable homes.

          This way of thinking about discipline is explained in the book, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink. Willink is a retired Navy SEAL. His impressive military career spanned 20 years and earned him many commendations. After retirement, Willink founded Echelon Front, a business geared toward teaching the principles that made a successful SEAL. His book details his leadership philosophy. He states,

          Although discipline demands control and asceticism, it actually results in freedom.

          Discipline allows you to practice the daily habits that get you the things you want. For example, when you have the self-discipline to wake up early, you get more free time. If you are disciplined enough to save your money, then you have the cash to take a vacation or make a big purchase that you’ve been wanting.

          Exercising some self-control can go a long way toward getting you the things you want.

          The boundaries for freedom

          Wandering around with no plan may work well for unstructured vacation time, but it’s not going to help you achieve your goals. Setting boundaries for yourself enables you to develop the discipline that will give you the true freedom you crave.

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          Set rules to build habits

          The right framework can help you build a concrete house on horizontal land. Life isn’t always going to make it easy to get what you want. You may have to put structures in place to help you accomplish your goals.

            Left to your own devices, you’d probably waste a lot of time and lose productivity. By setting some rules for yourself, you can create a framework that builds habits.

            Habits are automatic. If you develop positive habits, you’ll be able to do things that are good for you without thinking about it too much. Deciding that you are waking up early every morning and holding yourself to that standard eventually leads you to get up early naturally.

            Having a framework for a formal report holds you accountable for its quality and helps you finish the work faster. With no standards, you might turn in sloppy work, or it might take you a long time to complete a simple task.

            Bend the rules when you need to

            You can make a different style of house that can be built on a slope based on the same framework. While the appearance may have changed, the function is the same.

              The rules that you set for yourself aren’t meant to burden you. They’re just guidelines to help you stay on track. They may cause you a little discomfort, like when your alarm goes off and you don’t feel like getting up. You’ll quickly recover from this minor inconvenience, though.

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              Discipline is supposed to help you do things in a better way, but you should never feel trapped by it. You can follow your own rules, but you may need to bend those rules in certain situations.

              For example, if you have to hand in your report to someone different, you might have to change your style to meet their standards. You’re still using discipline to get things done, but you’re still free to adapt your work.

              Fighting against freedom’s true enemy

              Freedom through discipline requires you to break your bad habits. Whether it’s sleeping in too late, failing to make a plan, or neglecting your health, you can change the things that are keeping you from true freedom.

              1. Remove the triggers for your bad habits

              Habits are hard to break because they come naturally to us. Identify where you need more structure, and make sticking to your plan the easy answer.

              Imagine that you want to get into better shape so that you don’t feel tired all the time. You notice that you always feel too exhausted at night to work out, and you never get up early enough to go to the gym in the morning.

              It’s time to stop making excuses and start acting. Pack your gym bag the night before, and train your body to wake up early enough to work out. You can’t use the excuse of not having enough time or not having the right gear. It’s already ready to go.

              2. Reward yourself for doing the right things

              Setting up a system of rewards and punishments keeps you accountable. Train yourself to maintain discipline by rewarding good behavior and punishing actions that keep you from your goals.

              Your rewards and punishments don’t have to be huge and complicated. They just need to be enough to make you want to form good habits and stay away from bad patterns of behavior.

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              3. Track your behavior

              You might not even realize when you’re doing something that keeps you from being free. Develop ways to track your behavior.

              Jocko Willink recommends making a schedule or task list for yourself and sticking to it.[1] When you do this, you prioritize what needs to happen every day. If you notice that you’re neglecting certain aspects of your life by not completing your task list, you can make changes.

              Chances are, if you hadn’t made a list for yourself, you may not have even noticed what you were missing.

              Reach new level of freedom

              Doing whatever you want all the time isn’t real freedom, but you don’t have to be stuck. It may feel good in the short term to wake up whenever you want, procrastinate, and avoid things that will make you better and stronger, but that thinking will trap you.

              Developing discipline can help you reach new levels of physical, mental, and financial freedom. We need a little bit of order to make sense of the chaos. Build the structures that are going to take you to the next level and help you weather the storm.

              The best part about developing discipline is that it can start whenever you want. If you’re ready to change your life, grab a piece of paper and write out your plan! There’s no better time to start than the present.

              Reference

              More by this author

              Leon Ho

              Founder & CEO of Lifehack

              The Secret to Success Is Failure How to Stop Bad Habits: 9 Scientifically Proven Methods How To Be Successful In Life: 13 Life-Changing Tips How To Be A Successful Person (And What Makes One Unsuccessful) The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

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              Last Updated on April 7, 2020

              How to Use the Law of Attraction to Make Your Dreams Happen

              How to Use the Law of Attraction to Make Your Dreams Happen

              People seem to believe that they can simply think their way straight to success. They mistakenly believe that if they just think about their dreams often enough and vividly enough that–poof!–They’ll just seem to come true.

              But life is not a magic trick.

              If you told a starving child in Africa who had not had a single meal in five days to use the Law of Attraction to manifest a meal for themselves, how well do you think it would work out for them?

              Clearly, there’s more to it than envisioning what you want.

              If you want to know what it really takes to achieve your greatest goals and ambitions, then here’s a list of steps that will outline how to use the Law of Attraction the proper way.

              1. Focus Your Thoughts in the Direction of Your Dreams

              If you were to take a pebble and toss it into a pond, what happens?

              As soon as the pebble strikes the surface of the water, you get a series of ripples or waves, which spread outwards in a circular direction, until they get to the shoreline and seem to stop.

              The larger the pebble, the larger the ripples. The larger the pebble, the higher the waves.

              Two stones of different sizes and weights tossed in at the same time, at different places but in close proximity, will both create a series of ripples, which will eventually merge with one another…

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              When the two sets of ripples converge, there seems to be a bit of a struggle as to which one overcomes or passes the other.

              As far as the human eye can see, if the ripples are the same size, both seem to stop or merge when they collide.

              But if one set of ripples is larger than the other, the larger set sweeps over the smaller set and creates waves in the wake of the smaller ripples.

              Let’s consider this analogy in relation to our own thought-patterns and mental impulses…

              Imagine you’ve got two stones in each hand.

              • The stone in your left hand is labeled, “failure”
              • The stone in your right hand is labeled, “success”

              The weight of each stone is in direct proportion to the amount of *thought* you give its label.

              So… How heavy are your stones?

              If your “failure” stone is heavier, then its ripples will simply stop or take over the ripples created by your stone labeled “success.”

              But if your “success” stone is heavier, then that will be the one that takes over.

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              It’s important to keep this in mind as you put the Law of Attraction to use towards making your dreams happen: ensure that you focus your thoughts on successfully achieving those dreams more often than you focus on the fear of failure that you might experience if you don’t.

              2. Get Specific

              What do you want? What do your dreams look like, specifically?

              The other day, my three-year-old daughter lost one of her toys. It was a little brown tiger with a red sweater. When she couldn’t find it, she freaked out. She loved that little tiger with a red sweater.

              Of course, being a loving dad, I tried helping her find it – but to no avail. We looked all over the place, and it was nowhere to be found.

              Eventually, I stumbled upon a little tiger. Yes!

              I ran over to my daughter, Nora, and enthusiastically said, “I found it! I found it!”

              She popped her head up from looking under the couch and joyfully ran over to me with her hands extended…

              But then, as she got closer, the glimmer in her eyes disappeared. “That’s not it, Dada!” she whined.

              Then she took the tiger and held it up for me, “This tiger is wearing a pink sweater, it’s a girl-tiger, and her fur is light brown. My favorite tiger is lost and it wears a red sweater, it’s a boy-tiger, and he’s dark brown!”

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              So, we searched and searched, and searched some more.

              And eventually, we found that tiger.

              Nora found exactly what she was looking for, because she refused to settle for anything less.

              And even though this can be annoying sometimes, even though it doesn’t always make sense to be so exacting about what you want, I can’t help but respect the hustle.

              The key take-away from the story is this: if you want to make the Law of Attraction work for you, you have got to get specific. What is it, exactly that you want? Figure it out down to every specific detail and write it down.

              Once you’ve done that, it’s time to start taking action towards making it happen.

              3. Put Some Actions Where Your Thoughts Are

              Many people make the mistake of looking at the Law of Attraction as if it were a stand-alone solution to making their dreams a reality. They believe that they can make a vision board and use positive thinking to achieve success.

              But these folks need a wake-up call, because positive thinking is not enough. It will never be enough.

              If we THINK positive, but we still FEEL negative, then how will we ACT?

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              Your thoughts, actions and feelings are like a three-legged stool. Positive thinking is powerful, but only when we think of it as one of the three necessary legs that reinforces the stool we’re sitting on.

              If we don’t want the stool to wobble or break, we’ve got to make sure we give each leg the care it needs to keep us from falling down and getting hurt.

              The key here, with making the Law of Attraction work for you, is to focus on being as congruent as possible between your thoughts, feelings, and actions.

              What’s the best way to do that?

              First, remember that the way you THINK has got to be in line with the way you ACT. Because the way you act is going to have an impact on the way you FEEL.

              And the way you feel is going to help reinforce the way you think, or it’s going to help you re-examine the way you think. Which is going to circle right back around into helping you decide the way you choose to act in any given situation.

              See the feedback loop these three end up creating?

              The Bottom Line

              It’s not the Law of Attraction or positive thinking alone that drives our success in life — it’s about being in positive congruence between the way we think, act, and feel that drives our success in life… And at the very least, keeps us from falling off the stool.

              If we want to make big things happen, we’ve got to take action.

              More About Living Your Dream

              Featured photo credit: Nathan McBride via unsplash.com

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