One of the biggest factors that will determine how successful you are is the discipline with which you take charge of your mind. Many people attend courses and read books about what they need to do in order to become happier, more relaxed or more confident. It is one thing learning the steps you need to take and another thing actually taking them.
Mental discipline refers to how disciplined you are to consistently engage in the kind of mental practices that get you what you want. If you want to become a more relaxed person, you need to train yourself to do so. Once you have become a more relaxed person, you have to continue to practice the same rituals or techniques. It is the equivalent of physical exercise. The difference between the two is that often we can put the blame for us not being in a good state down to our circumstances whereas with our physical health, fitness or shape, we pretty much understand that it is dependent on how we eat and how much we exercise.
Just like physical exercise, we can look at two aspects of our mental discipline: what we put in and what we do (or think). If you read the news and watch countless television shows of how people are evil and dangerous then it’s reasonable that you will start to feel less trusting of others. If you read positive thinking books and listen to motivational podcasts, it’s reasonable that you will have a positive, ‘can-do’ mentality.
Neither is necessarily the best way to go. If you truly want to become more mentally strong, it is a good idea to open yourself to a mixture of information. The key is to learn as much as you can and to avoid going to the same sources of information time and time again. Instead of just listening to what you want to hear, you will be far better served by listening to a variety of perspectives on everything.
In terms of what we do, the question then becomes how do you think through the day? What kind of questions do you ask yourself? How do you speak to yourself? What thoughts do you think? How does your mind help you or hurt you?
Understanding the answers to these questions will provide you with the opportunity to evaluate and, if necessary, start the process of change happen within your mind. Learning Mindfulness, NLP or CBT or some other useful approach can train you to change how you think. The key is you have to value it enough to actually try and change your thinking.
Mental discipline isn’t about motivating yourself excitedly once a month about what you hope to do. It is about making a daily, committed decision as to what you are going to pay attention to and how you are going to think. It is a committed effort to keep using what you learn to maintain a healthy attitude and build the kind of emotions that serve you well.