The obvious definition of self-discipline is to discipline oneself.  The Random House College Dictionary defines discipline as “training to act in accordance with rules” and “instruction and exercise designed to train to proper conduct or action”. This tells me that the formal definition of self-discipline must be training oneself to improve a specific behavior or skill.  I believe that this can be extrapolated out to mean training oneself to improve any aspect of life.

There are many attributes of good self-discipline.  These include proper motivation, patience, consistency and perseverance.  Breaking your final goal into lesser ones and taking small steps to successfully accomplish these can greatly help to increase your momentum and maintain motivation. This will ultimately translate into a greater ability to train, or discipline, yourself.

I believe that I am a disciplined person.  However, as I sit here at my computer trying to recall an impressive example of self-discipline to share, I am drawing a blank.  But now I realize that I do exercise self-discipline on a daily basis.  Take something simple-like flossing.  I floss every day. Many years back I didn’t floss at all. When I visited my dentist at that time, she advised me that I should floss to keep my teeth and gums healthy. I was adverse to the idea at the time so I asked her if I needed to floss all of my teeth.  She responded “No, you don’t.  You only have to floss the ones that you want to keep.”   I thus started developing the habit of daily flossing. I trained myself to incorporate it into my nighttime routine before brushing.  And I’ve been doing it ever since. That took self-discipline. I exercise and eat healthy on a consistent basis. I read on a regular basis to keep up with the advances that are occurring in my field. I want to keep myself well and always be able to improve myself. This takes self-discipline.

To become self-disciplined is often a slow process, but one that will enable us reap great rewards.

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Working as a doctor in the Emergency Room is often very challenging. Most days are incredibly hectic.  I’m sure that most clinicians that staff an ER find themselves in a near constant state of both physical and mental activity for the entire duration of their shift-myself included.  I find myself running around for 12 hours and filling multiple roles.  These include clinical detective, social worker, patient advocate and teacher. We get to put band-aids on wounds, re-align broken bones, care for people who have been involved in car accidents and act as part of a team to help save a person who is having a heart attack.

It is rewarding to know that I helped improve or even save someone’s life because of the knowledge and skills that I possess. I also find it rewarding to know that I have established a connection with a person and family.  Placing medicine aside, just the thought that I was able to reach out and help another human being is a wonderful thing.

A few weeks ago I took care of a young old girl with a broken wrist.  I had to administer medicines to put her into a relaxed state, after which I manipulated her arm to reduce the fracture. Her mother wished to stay in the room during the procedure, and I knew that this helped alleviate her fears.  When the child woke up she felt better.  Her mom put on a smile of relief.  This was more satisfying to me than the actual fracture reduction.

I believe that no matter what path we choose in life that we should strive to be as good as we can be.  And I believe that we should always do our absolute best to sincerely help improve and add value to another person’s life in some way.