(Note to Reader: This is the first (and intro) in a series of 8 blogs that I am sending to you about how to stop bad habits. It is taken from Week 4, The Urgent Necessity of Stopping Bad Habits in Happy School Advanced, the companion study to the book, Happy School. The other lessons can be found under the Happy School Advanced tab on this website.
Self-discipline and self-control are not only popular topics, they are God’s topics. The Bible has a lot to say about these topics. Concerning self-control with our thinking, the Apostle Peter tells us to gird up the loins of our minds. As far as self-control with eating, Proverbs says to only eat a little honey. As for self-control with sex, the Word says to keep the marriage bed undefiled. Regarding self-control with work, the Apostle Paul says work as unto the Lord. And concerning self-control with the tongue, the book of Proverbs states its importance as it declares that death and life are in the power of the tongue. The concept of self-control reigns throughout Scripture. There is also a plethora of warnings concerning self-indulgence throughout Scripture (one example I love is Ezekiel 16:49-50.)
I don’t have to tell you that self-control is best for you. However, as you know, your Lower Self is trying to find a way to get the benefits of self-discipline without paying the cost.
Blessings always lie on the other side of side-discipline and detriments always lie on the other side of self-indulgence. This is because God made our world a sowing and reaping world. “For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly.” Proverbs 5:23
You know your bad habit is hindering you and holding you back. Much success and happiness is on the other side of resisting urges. But you have to have a plan to resist urges. And learning how to do that is the major goal of Lesson 4 in Happy School Advanced.
I intentionally put Lesson 4 early in the line-up of the book, Happy School, because you must stop substance abuse and bad habits before other issues can be addressed. Not controlling, but stopping. Not more counseling, but stopping. Get clean to get clear. Stop self-destructive habits and then you will have vast amounts of time, insight, and energy to rebuild and improve your life.
As you also know, bad habits are effective and powerful because they hide and block stress as well provide color and zest. But only for a moment. In their wake, they leave destruction. They are robbers and con artists. It’s not a sacrifice to quit something that is harmful. It is brilliant and freeing.
Fulfillment in life doesn’t come from pleasure. Yes, pleasure is nice and I love it like you do. But deep, fulfillment in life come from your relationship with God, from pursing meaningful goals (Lesson 5 in Happy School), and from relationships (Lesson 9). These pillars give life ultimate meaning—not pleasure and escape.
Decide to master yourself so you can aim at worthwhile goals (Lesson 5), as well as give to and love others (Lesson 9). Self-discipline takes you where you want to go and gets you what you want. Bad habits are like having a heavy weight tied to your foot while you’re trying to swim.
Your default mode is to medicate yourself, because that’s the easy thing to do. It takes energy to overcome, to fly above. You are not likely to conquer your bad habit without being extremely intentional. Naturally, in our flesh, we are lovers of pleasure instead of lovers of God. Our tendency is to drift away. Humans have fallen intuitions. Don’t trust your Lower Self to make decisions for you.
You know your bad habit is harming and impeding you, in spite of all the temporary and immediate benefits. You’ve got to see stopping as a tool to reach your dreams. Discipline holds the keys to joy and freedom. Don’t you have enough problems without nagging, life-stealing, bad habits? Bad habits waste your energy and time; they make you foggy and dull. They are just plain pathetic.
The call is, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved as a workman who does not need to be ashamed” (2 Tim 2: 15). Discipline is a golden ticket.
In the early 20th century, Andrew Carnegie commissioned Napoleon Hill to seek out the most successful people. What did Hill discover was their one common denominator? No surprise. It was self-discipline.
Helen Keller said, “True happiness is not attained thru self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” (More in Lesson 5 on goals and purpose.)
For centuries, sages have talked about the beauty of self-discipline. You can’t buy it (although I once heard Dave Ramsey remark he likes to pay a personal trainer to count his push-ups so in that sense, you can be savvy and use money to help you.) Everyone appreciates the benefits of self-control in all areas, such as food, alcohol, speech, spending, etc. The more disciplined you become, the easier your life gets. In addition, your self-confidence will flourish because self-respect is a fruit of virtue and self-discipline.
We must all suffer one of two things: The pain of discipline now or the pain of regret later. It’s a lie that freedom is found in escape, indulgence, and excessive pleasure. Ironically, freedom comes with discipline.
Stop doing stupid things. A victory over self is foundational for a happy and successful life. We don’t need to be smarter; we need to be more disciplined. Break the habits that are breaking you.
Don’t count on the culture to help you. Companies don’t care if you destroy your life, only that you buy their products. Their ads make their products look incredibly life-affirming, like casino ads, alcohol ads, Trash Food ads, and ads to buy expensive cars, watches, vacations, and other things that you can’t afford. Rise up from the herd mentality.
Your bad habit makes you way less than you could be. What would your life be like if you made use of all your potential and didn’t have dissipation? Why are you casually stringing together wasted days? You know what you need to do to put your life in order. Do the thing you have been avoiding.
Recently I ran into a girl who is addicted to sugar. After she had eaten half of a birthday cake (against her own better judgement), she said to me, “I hate myself.” What a true picture of Proverbs 15:32, “He who neglects discipline despises himself.” You can’t be happy if you are ignoring discipline. To be happy, you have to remove the disagreement inside your mind. So don’t fight your bad habit any longer. Give it up. It’s not a joy to be burdened with your bad habit; it’s a joy to be free. Train your brain to not want what harms you.
Several more blogs are coming your way in the next few days, helping you stop that rascal bad habit!
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