We should discipline ourselves in small things, and from there progress to things of greater value. If you have a headache, practise not cursing. Don’t curse every time you have an earache. And I’m not saying that you can’t complain, only don’t complain with your whole being. —Epictetus
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you won’t build self-discipline overnight. If you’ve never been particularly disciplined, start small with easy challenges and then build on top of them.
Epictetus suggests a simple exercise of not complaining when you feel unwell. To make the first step even easier, he says that you don’t even have to immediately stop complaining at all — just stop complaining “with your whole being.”
Could you do it just for today? Once you successfully go one day without complaining with your whole being, how about two days? Three days? A week? A month? Could you then add other little challenges and consistently strengthen your willpower?
Other simple practices you can implement to begin building more self-discipline include:
– Resisting the temptation to yell in anger when another driver does something that irks you.
– Eating just slightly less than you’d like to eat, like one square of a chocolate or one potato chip less.
– Working for just one minute longer when you’re ready to call it a day .
Work on several such little challenges and soon you’ll gain more self-control and be able to progress to bigger changes.