Discipline or Regret

“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.”
Jim Rohn

The essence of discipline

Why is discipline important? It seems strange that we cannot just go about our lives as the animals do, making decisions and choices based on what we feel at the present moment. Serving whatever fleeting desire we feel at the time.

Wouldn't that be so much easier?

I struggled with this concept for a long time when I was a younger man, where everything seemed to be designed to stop you enjoying yourself or fit you into a box with someone else's dimensions on it.

But when I found martial arts, and  through it was exposed to philosophy, I began to understand the value of discipline, the necessity of it, and now, more than ever  in this modern world where comfort comes easy and meaning is a rare treasure.

Discipline is what allows us to become greater than what we are, it is what allows us to realise our true potential as divine beings in this world.

It is the thing that stops us becoming slaves to our desires and our insecurities.

When our mammalian brain craves something, it is the prefrontal cortex, our logical, modern, problem solving brain that kicks into action to serve that craving and make it happen.

A truly magnificent survival skill.

But now, in this age of comfort, where the ability to experience any form of slight discomfort is non existent. And as we move more and more into a “collective comfort zone”, Our own problem solving skills work against us, convincing us to just eat the cake, or not to bother going for that walk.

I mean, from an ancestral point of view, eating the cake and not going for that walk is a perfect survival strategy, if we were surviving !

But we're not struggling to survive any more, even though our brain still thinks we are. We must use our higher consciousness to rise above impulses and cravings, and figure out which of these are serving us and which are detrimental to us on a personal level, and on a collective level.

And that's not even taking into account the drugs.

Drugs !?

Yes, the drugs.

When you perform an action that your brain perceives as contributing to your survival or the survival of the species, it rewards you with a little home brew narcotic concoction :

dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin.

These 4 neurotransmitters cause a pleasurable response in our brains and they make us feel generally really fucking good!.

Actions that cause this response are known as PHENOTYPIC INDULGENCES.

It is essentially your system saying : “you just helped us survive champ, well done, here’s some happy juice”

It is why sex is pleasurable.

It is why fat, sugar and salt taste good.

It is why cooking meat smells so god damn delicious!

It is why hugs make us happy and breastfeeding feels meaningful.

It is why seeing your child excel at something makes you feel all warm and fuzzy.

It is the reason getting a promotion or a pay rise  makes you happy.

These phenotypic indulgences are powerful drivers in our lives and they tend to shape why and how we make many of the decisions that we make.

let us look at sugar as an illustration of how phenotypic indulgences can work against us without discipline to temper them :

In ancestral times, when we lived from the land, hunted and gathered, which is any time before the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago(the blink of an eye in human history). sugar was an extremely valuable asset.

It gave us energy that we could use instantly as glycogen and also allowed us to store the excess energy as fatfor a later date. Excellent from a survival perspective.

Sugar is also quite rare in the wild in most parts of the world, so when our ancient ancestors found a source of sugar (beehive, ripe fruit tree etc) we would gorge on it and eat as much as possible, giving us instant energy and also topping up our body fat stores for the winter (most sources of simple carbohydrates ripen at the end of summer/ start of autumn which is perfectly timed to put on weight for a cold winter in the wild)

However, fast forward to our current situation, sugar is no longer a scarcity, in fact when you walk into any shop now, the vast majority of “foods” are high glycemic, carb based crap!

The thing is our drives and impulse remain the same as our ancient brothers and sisters. (we are biologically identical to them believe it or not!)

We still have the drive to eat all the sugar, to prepare for a winter that is never coming !

This is where discipline comes into the equation.

Understanding which of these phenotypic indulgences are absolutely necessary for our physical, mental and spiritual well being, and honouring those.

At the same time, understanding which of these phenotypic indulgences work against us and need to be curtailed.

The first step is to understand the process of these things and how they can control us, then exercising higher consciousness and discipline to redirect or ignore them for our own good.

I often explain this to people that find it hard to control their dietary intake : it isn't simply a matter that you are weak and a failure, these are very strong primal drives that are acting upon us, and it takes practise and consistency to control them and learn to work with them.

At the same time , there are things that maybe are not pleasurable and don't fill us with joy, that we still must do for the personal and collective good.

physical training probably falls into this category, I don't necessarily WANT  to go to the gym and train, but I do want to be healthy and able bodied, I want to be able to protect my family and household, and I want my wife to be sexually attracted to me, so I take the short term hit for the long term gains.

This is discipline, feeling an urge or an impulse, and deciding whether to follow that urge or impulse depending on whether it is good in the long term or not.

The same is true for cold showers in the morning, I definitely don’t WANT  to turn that tap to cold and it is a battle every single morning, but I know that the long term payoff is great, (wakes me up, trains my ability to downregulate my nervous system, builds healthy brown fat stores, strengthens my cardiovascular system) so I do it for the better good.

The thing is, discipline is literally like a muscle, the more you practice, the easier it gets.

So start flexing that muscle, understand the underlying process of phenotypic indulgences and how they can trick us, don't follow every impulse and desire unless it gives you a return on your investment. exercise your higher consciousness and make decisions based on whether they are good for your long term development.

understand that discomfort is something that we need to experience in order to develop and grow, and that “comfort” is the true enemy of growth.

Thanks for reading, please reach out if you have any thoughts or feedback, I would love to hear from you.

Have a great day!



"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
Edmund Burke

Where have the mighty hero's gone?
Those fine examples of men, that made sacrifice beyond measure for the greater good.

Those who were willing to spill their very life blood so that we could live this comfortable life, free from risk and fear.

Those men who's stories filled me with morals and higher order thinking when I was still just a boy too young to understand the true essence and power of the narrative!

Yet without even understanding, I still drew deep lessons from these stories of Hercules, Chuchullain, Oddyseus and other imperfect but virtuous Heroes.

Speak the TRUTH, be COURAGEOUS , and have EMPATHY for your fellow man.

This is a simple doctrine, but it rings true as a moral code to live by.

Because men left untempered, without a code, become dangerous and destructive animals!

We desire a cause, we need a cause!

To guide us, to give us a direction to orientate ourselves towards good,
now more than ever before!

And now, I feel nauseous at the thought of people who would have the audacity to tread carelessly upon the graves of these mighty hero's, to speak ill of their achievements and to condemn their mighty deeds to the realm of patriarchy, barbarism or warlike selfishness.

In reality, these men are most likely fictional, but their stories are archetypal, they are a road map for us to follow, the narrative contains a treasure that has grown and formed over millennia.

You see, every human possesses both the shadow and the light simultaneously, and it is not our score of mighty deeds that makes us hero or villain, Rather the small decisions that we make minute to minute, hour to hour and day to day.

Giving up your seat for an elderly person is an act of heroism.

Putting a friend's interests before your own is heroic.

A father working 2 jobs to give his children a better life than he himself had is an act of heroism.

A mother, sacrificing her body to bring new life into this world is true act of heroism.

It is the small acts day to day, the consistent decisions we make are what make us hero or coward.

When we shrink from challenges and fail to put others before ourselves, our world shrinks and we become less than we could be. We walk the path of the coward.

When we rise to challenges and think selflessly, our world grows and we begin fulfill our potential. We walk the path of the hero

I remember a great mentor of mine telling me this: "We do not rise to the occasion, we fall to the level of our habits and our training"

Many of us live in denial and we think that when something happens, we will rise to the occasion, but in reality the opposite is true, when crisis strikes it is the patterns that are ingrained in us through repetition that come to the surface, not our fantasies and ideals.

If you think of every choice that you make, every decision, either moving you towards the path of the hero or the path of the coward.

Every decision is making you weaker or making you stronger.

Stop doing things that make you weak, because if we make ourselves weak, we make the species weak, in every decision we have the choice to walk the hero's path or the cowards path.

The responsibility of a man is to be ready, to prepare himself, for the unthinkable eventualities that may come to threaten him and (more importantly) his family and the greater good. To put himself in a position where he knows that he will take the correct action when the opportunity arises, that he will make the heroic choice if and when that time comes.

This is a heavy burden to bear, the thought that if you fail in this duty you not only fail yourself but those close to, and dependent upon you.

I believe that the preparation for this happens in every little choice that we make. Each choice being a vote for heroism or a vote for cowardice. each choice moves us closer or further away from realising our ultimate potential as a man. Closer to finding that hero deep within us.

Ultimately, I think that the opposite of heroism is not really cowardice but apathy, doing nothing, not caring. Going back to the quote at the start of this, doing nothing is the true act of cowardice.

This is where I feel society is letting us down. muting our young men and telling them that all of their masculine instincts and traits are negative and toxic. We will have a culture of cowards if we don't educate our boys and young men on the importance of the heroic mindset.

we want men and boys that rise to the challenges instead of navel gazing and selfishly looking after themselves, we want boys and men that will go out of their way to help those less able.

Nothing is more detrimental to our soul than ignoring our moral compass and failing to act when we know that we could have acted in a heroic manner.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this, do you practice daily acts of heroism, do you go out of your way to help those less fortunate, do you educate your boys on the values of the heroic mindset???

The age of discipline

As Homosapiens, our brains are drawn to linear and direct processes.

Our thought patterns are built upon our ability to throw, which evolved from our ability to brachiate (swing) through the treetops.

Early man figured out that the brachiating (swinging) action of our shoulders allowed us to throw objects. (This ability is unique to primates)

This was possibly the greatest "aha" moment in human history. and it changed the course of our species forever!

Throwing meant that we now had the ability to control the world around us, without putting ourselves in immediate danger, an adversary could be pelted with stones and sticks, food from unreachable tree limbs could be knocked down. The world of hunting opened up to us. (much safer to kill a large animal from a distance than it is to get close enough to club it.)

Our world suddenly became much bigger and new opportunities arose.

We underestimate the monumental impact that throwing has had on us , it shapes how we approach problems and goals.

In the book "throwing fire" the author Alfred w crosby states "The ability to hit a rabbit sized target at 4 metres distance with a stone, is the evolutionary equivalent of a bat being able to hunt insects in complete darkness using echo location!!!!"

Throwing is deeply ingrained in our Psych.

We aim at a goal,
We launch a new product,
We hit financial targets.

The word sin means "to miss your mark".

This linear trajectory of a thrown object and it's ability make our life better (protect us from predators/provide us with food) is so deeply ingrained in our psychology that it is mirrored in our thought processes.

The act of launching a projectile into the unknown, powered by our will and our skill in unison can give us rewards that help us not only survive, but thrive.

This process is mirrored in our stories and lives.

Launching ourselves into the unknown, powered by our will and guided by our skill, can bring us rewards both physical and psychological that allow us to level-up and grow massively.

This is the arc (another throwing reference) of the hero's journey, or any story.

The hero throws themselves into the chaos of the unknown where he must rely on his will and his skill to defeat all manner of bad things and events. If his aim is true and his will is strong, he can return to his people with the "treasure", whatever that may be, (usually new knowledge and perspective that can benefit everybody in his tribe)

So we have this intrinsic preference for the linear. Moving from point A to point B constantly.

This is navigation.

And this is how we navigate the world and conceptualise it.

so we apply this logic of the "arc" to our lives and our own self development.

Aiming at a goal and perceiving it as a straight path of development.

unfortunately this is simply not how it works out in reality

Working towards a goal is more like a series of consecutive throws, each one leading us closer to the goal, but having to deal with a multitude of problems and diversions along the way.

The goal is far away and we have no way of knowing for sure what pitfalls and dangers lie between us and the target, we simply have to launch our selves as accurately as possible, see where we land, reassess, re adjust our aim, and launch ourselves again, having faith that our skill and our will are developed enough to allow us to deal with the issues that arise along the way.

That is an act of faith.

It is our ability to adapt and overcome that allows us to thrive.

And that ability can only be developed by practise.

By consciously stepping out of our comfort zone and aiming ourselves at some distant target without any true knowledge of how we will get there.

I feel like more and more, humans are seeking comfort above all else, we are becoming weak in mind, weak in body and weak in spirit.

I believe the answer lies in discomfort, actively putting ourselves in uncomfortable positions.

our ability to handle discomfort is like a muscle, it must be trained and developed or we lose it.

In the absence of natural stresses that help us to adapt, we must create our own stresses, we must make ourselves evolve, rise above our desires to be comfortable , fat and lazy.

The age of self discipline is upon us.

Those that give in to impulse and desire will fall by the wayside. Weakened in body and mind by their own lack of control.

As Aristotle said : "in discipline lies freedom"