THE phrase “discipline is freedom” gained popularity by the work of US Navy Seal Jocko Willink during his talks and articles on leadership and management.
We think of freedom as having the liberty to do whatever we want, whenever we want. Not wanting to exercise, “yeah, I’m free to do that.” Eating that extra slice of cake, “yeah sure, that’s freedom for me.” We want to be able to do everything and anything, even when it’s detrimental to our own health and wellness.
When some people think of discipline, they think of an authoritarian state where everything is regimented. You wake up early, train and exercise, eat healthy food, do your work, spend less time on gadgets and get early to sleep. You are tied down to your schedule, with no flexibility due to self-imposed rules. It may seem like a joyless life, and some might ask where’s the freedom in that?
The truth is that the concept of “discipline is freedom” is present in our lives when we truly seek it. We’ve all experienced having deadlines in our work and academic life. When we postpone getting to do our work because of social activities or laziness, we end up getting harassed and struggling to meet the deadline—yes, we enjoyed freedom for a bit, but became tied down as the deadline got closer. Fake freedom.
Perhaps a more extreme example is enjoying your days by eating too much, drinking too much alcohol, abusing your body and exposing it to physiological stress by sleeping late most days of the week only to find out that you are at the brink of lifestyle disease and some form of cancers in your 30s, experiencing the kinds of disease your uncles and aunts in their 70s have. Fake freedom.
The discipline of doing exercise regularly and eating healthy most of the time means that the occasional splurge will not hurt your health as much, and that you will have the freedom to move as and how you wish for much longer in this lifetime. I will never forget the 90-year-old man who passed us on the way up the stairs going up a temple in Mt. Fuji. Real freedom.
What type of health freedom do you want to experience? Are you ready to be disciplined to experience real freedom in your health? What’s holding you back?
It is never too late to start. Get moving, eat well, and sleep early! Happy training.