Giving credit where credit is due, I first heard the phrase discipline equals freedom from Jocko Willink, author of Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win.

What does this mean?

At first glance, discipline and freedom seem to be opposites. The term discipline might conjure up images of an uptight and overzealous drill sergeant who berates you for having a rogue nose-hair. While at the same time we all associate freedom with being able to do whatever we want, whenever we want.

But there is a causal connection between discipline and freedom. People who practice discipline feel good, have less stress, and have more freedom to do the things that are important in life.

Real-life examples

People who practice discipline by avoiding sweets and sugary drinks have far less risk for type-2 diabetes. Many people with type-2 diabetes live in their own private hell. They worry about their future. They worry about the onset of neuropathy and the possibility of losing their eyesight, their kidneys, or even their limbs. This is the opposite of freedom.

People who practice discipline by exercising every day will have more energy to do the things that matter. They sleep better. As they age they have less joint pain and overall feel better. On the other hand, the couch potato doesn’t feel good, sleeps poorly, and doesn’t have the energy to complete life’s tasks. This is the opposite of freedom.

People who practice discipline by going to bed at a reasonable hour every night feel better when they get up in the morning. They have the energy and mental clarity needed to tackle that day’s tasks. People who stay up late don’t get enough sleep. They feel lethargic and deal with a mental fog the clouds their judgment and decisions. They are often cranky and not fun to be around. This is the opposite of freedom.

People who practice discipline by making daily progress towards their goals and have a good chance of achieving their goals. People who endlessly procrastinate never achieve anything and are stuck. Stuck financially. Stuck in their career. Stuck living in their mother’s basement, wiping the Cheetos dust from their Spiderman pajamas, as they fantasize about a different life. This is the opposite of freedom.

People who practice discipline by planning are punctual. They arrive on time for important meetings and events. People who don’t plan feel a lot of stress, are late to important things, and as a result, they miss opportunities and damage relationships. This is the opposite of freedom.

Conclusion

There is a causal connection between discipline and freedom. People who practice discipline feel better and have less stress. They have more freedom to do important things. Create more freedom for yourself by being disciplined in key areas of your life.

Be well, my friend.

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