What if you could determine what was important, best, and just plain right for you to do, and then could move into making that a reality? Is a lack of self-discipline the only thing keeping you from saying to yourself: Body, you're overweight and need to lose 20 lbs. and then effectively go about reducing your caloric intake and/or increasing your exercise? Is there anything you couldn't do with the right amount of self-discipline? What are the roles of willpower and motivation in this? Are the concepts synonymous? This issue permeates all aspects of life either positively or negatively. In fact, this concept has already been part of a couple of posts here: The Will and Physically Speaking.
I can still clearly recall a moment in my life when this idea intruded into my mind: Discipline is good. The reason I say intruded is because that idea was so foreign to me prior to that evening, walking across a yard outside some army barracks at Ft. Gordon, GA when I was 19. Prior to that moment, I had understood discipline to be a negative. It was restrictive. It was punishment. But after going through boot camp and advanced training in the military, I began to see a different side of discipline. Let's be honest, discipline can be punishment. Even self-discipline. There's an interesting saying used by bodybuilders: Pain is just weakness leaving the body. I think that's a useful way of looking at this issue. We don't want to force ourselves out of comfort. But the 'pain' we feel from self-discipline is accomplishing the very thing we truly want or need, namely change for the better.
I wish cold, hard facts could set us on the pathway to a more disciplined life. Unfortunately, facts alone don't motivate us very well. I think that's where willpower comes in. We do first need to understand the issue, and then plan our course of action. But how will we be consistently successful at accomplishing our goals? Our will enables decisions to be effective. Where does our willpower-enhancing motivation come from? I would say that, generally, my 'will' to eat too much good-tasting food is stronger than my 'will' to be healthy (long-term Important/Non-urgent goal, see Time Matrix) or to have a slim physique. However, I think I could be effectively motivated to achieve that goal if my doctor told me that I will have a heart attack in the next year if I don't make serious changes. It would be my over-arching will to make this happen. Why can't I apply that discipline now? I don't see the urgency? One theory says that our will serves various motivations aside from reason. Maybe my will is unreasonable.
I'm sure there's much more to be said on this subject. What do you think?