Happiness linked to self-discipline, research says
A Greek word for self-discipline is the root of the Christian idea of “asceticism.” Behavioral people call it “delayed gratification.” Scripture calls it denying oneself and taking up the cross. Nobody ever became an Olympic athlete, a musician, or even an effective professional or a good spouse, without practicing the skills and habits they mean to embody.
The article describes self-discipline as linked to happiness. Of course as Christians our pursuit is not only happiness but holiness. I find it interesting that this secular research about self-discipline echoes themes my spiritual father has been repeating to me in confession for many years.
Penelope Trunk writes:
For a while I have been fascinated by the research about happiness. Some of my favorite research is from Sonja Lyumbomirsky, psychology professor at University of California Riverside. (She’s great at listing really small things you can do to impact your happiness.) And from Dan Gilbert’s Hedonic Psychology Lab at Harvard. (I follow PhD students from that lab like other people follow favorite quarterbacks.)
But something I’ve noticed in the last year is that most of our happiness is actually dependent on our self-discipline. For example, we are happier if we exercise, but the barriers to getting to the gym are so high that it takes a lot more than missives from the Hedonic Psychology Lab to get us there. Also, Roy Baumeister, professor of psychology at Florida State University, has studied self-esteem for decades, and finds that when it comes to success, self-discipline is much more important than self-esteem.
So I have started tracking my own self-discipline rather than my happiness. And I think that the process is making me happier, because I am teaching myself how to bounce back quickly when my self-discipline falls apart. Here’s what I’ve learned…