How Self-Discipline Leads to Happiness


“The truth is, you cannot be healthy and happy without discipline.”

I had no idea what he was talking about. I asked myself Why do you need discipline to be happy? Then he continued:

“If you want to measure the level of happiness in your life, just measure the level of discipline in your life. You will never have more happiness than you have discipline.”

I closed the book without really understanding the true meaning of happiness or discipline.

When Discipline is Lacking

That same night I was reflecting on my past. Almost thirteen years ago one of my best friends was getting married and he asked my wife and I to be part of the Wedding Court—of course we said yes and we were very excited to be part of their wedding.

The wedding mass was beautiful, after mass we headed to the reception ceremony. I was wearing a black tuxedo and my wife was wearing a nice brides maid dress. We enjoyed the dinner and we left the reception right before the most important part of the reception, which was the tossing of the bouquet, dollar dance and the cutting of the cake.

The day of the wedding turned out to be the day of a big boxing fight. I am a boxing fan and at the time I felt I had to watch every boxing fight, especially the main stream fights. So we left the reception to go watch the fight at my neighbor’s house. When the fight was over we went back to the reception but by that time all the festivities were over. At that point I knew that leaving the reception was wrong and I had a feeling of shame and embarrassment. I regretted this selfish act and I lived with guilt for several years.

Understanding the Concept of Self-Discipline

The day after reading the book, it hit me. I now understood what Matthew Kelly was saying about discipline and happiness. If I would have had discipline on the day of the wedding thirteen years ago, I wouldn’t have given in to the urge to leave and watch the fight. With discipline in your heart you can conquer any temptation that comes your way.

That night temptation got the best of me and I suffered for it. Now I get the point Matthew Kelly was trying to make. If I would have stayed at the reception and not gone to watch the fight, I would have found happiness as a result of my discipline.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

2 Timothy 1:7

A couple of Saturdays ago, it was the night of another big fight. I had no plans that night and my first instinct was to watch the fight. I really wanted to, but instead I decided to test my self-discipline. Evening came and although it was hard for me to not watch the fight, I did it! Instead, I decided to take my family out to dinner. We spent some quality family time together and we had a great evening. Through self-discipline I was able to forget about the fight and that night was full of joy. No regrets. No guilt. Just true happiness.