A wise man once said, “Life is a challenge.” All of us face fresh challenges every day, and most of us deal with lingering traumas from childhood and life experience. Toughness is needed to overcome these. By overcome, I don’t mean staying alive—although staying alive is important—I mean performing well and achieving desirable outcomes. Toughness is an attribute we all admire. We praise tough athletes for performing while hurt and tough people for overcoming adversity as a testament to the human spirit.
The surest way to increase toughness is to practice going without. We all need certain things outside ourselves to survive and thrive—food, water, love, entertainment, and stimulation. The place where all these things are readily available is called the comfort zone. When we step outside this zone, when we deprive ourselves of comfort, we gain the opportunity to become tougher.
Fasting, or going without food, is a kind of toughness. Working out and lifting weights, or going without the comfort of homeostasis, is a kind of toughness. Limiting entertainment by watching less Tv and limiting screen time is a kind of toughness. Abstaining from porn, masturbation and sexual stimulation is a kind of toughness. People in combat often have to go without all three—food, entertainment, and sex—for long periods of time.
The way I see it, there are two primary ways we grow as people: love and discipline. When people show us love growing up and throughout life, it has a positive effect on our minds, bodies, and spirits. The problem is we cannot control the love we experience from other people. That is on them—but we can always control discipline. As a result, discipline is the surest way to develop as a person.
Discipline in a spiritual context is a matter of life and death. When we lack spiritual discipline, we quickly find ourselves outside the will of God and invite chaos into our lives.
He [the wicked] dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.Proverbs 5:23
When I look back on my life, a lack of discipline was often to blame for painful consequences. The same may be true for you. We have to reach a point where we say, “Enough is enough.”
Let’s ask ourselves today– is discipline bringing us closer to the place we want to be in life, or is a lack thereof moving us away from purpose, contentment, and close relationship with God?
A change may be in order.