Practically speaking, how can a person develop self-discipline in his or her life?
Here are some things that have helped me through the years:
1. Start Small. Start with your room. Clean it, then keep it clean. When something is out of place, train yourself to put it where it belongs. Then extend the discipline of neatness to the rest of your home.
2. Be on time. That may not seem very spiritual, but it's important. If you're supposed to be somewhere at a specific time, be there on time. Develop the ability to discipline your desires, activities, and demands so that you can arrive on time.
3. Do the hardest job first. When you do that, you will find it easier to do the simpler tasks.
4. Organize your life. Plan the use of your time; don't just react to circumstances. Use a calendar and make a daily list of things you need to accomplish. If you don't control your time, everything else will.
5. Accept correction. Correction helps make you more disciplined because it shows you what you need to avoid. Don't avoid criticism; accept it gladly.
6. Practice self-denial. Learn to say no to your feelings. Learn to do what you know to be right even if you don't feel like doing it. Sometimes it's even beneficial to deny yourself things that are acceptable to have, like a doughnut in the morning or dessert after dinner. Exercising such self-restraint helps you develop the habit of keeping other things under control. Cultivating discipline in the physical realm will help you become disciplined in your spiritual life.
7. Welcome responsibility. When you have an opportunity to do something that needs to be done, volunteer for it if you have talent in that area. Accepting responsibility can force you to organize yourself.