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Self-Discipline

  • Self-restraint may be alien to the human temperament, but humanity without restraint will dig its own grave.

  • Getting to know ourselves and learning to control ourselves are the two great tasks of life. Don't make up strange and exotic 'penances.' Simply say no to yourself once a day, and you will be on the road to sanctity for the rest of your life.

  • Nothing ever really sets human nature free, but self-control.

  • I am not impressed by external devices for the preservation of virtue in men or women. Marriage laws, the police, armies and navies are the mark of human incompetence.

  • ... when I have jobs I dread, I am for takin' 'em by the forelock and grapplin' with 'em at once.

  • The business of self-command she settled very easily; — with strong affections it was impossible, with calm ones it could have no merit.

  • As far as your self-control goes, as far goes your freedom.

  • It is hard work to control the workings of inclination and turn the bent of nature; but that it may be done, I know from experience. God has given us, in a measure, the power to make our own fate.

  • Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigor; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?

  • I try to teach my heart to want nothing it can't have.

  • Remember that you will never reach a higher standard than you yourself set. Then set your mark high, and step by step, even though it be by painful effort, by self-denial and sacrifice, ascend the whole length of the ladder of progress.

  • I did and still do find a serious error in the emphasis of spiritual masters and hagiographers of all faiths on self-denial and austerity as an end in itself, instead of a means. L'art pour l'art. We must do the good because it is good, not because it is difficult.

    • Ade Bethune,
    • in Judith Stoughton, Proud Donkey of Schaerbeek ()
  • Many thrive on frugal fare / Who would perish of excess.

  • If you don't control your self, some one or thing else will.

  • My whole theory for the improvement of society is based on a belief in the discipline and the education of the individual to self-control and right doing, for the sake of right doing. I have never seen fundamental improvements imposed from the top by ordinances and laws.

  • I find that self-denial is painful for a moment, but very agreeable in the end.

    • Jane Taylor,
    • "Theory and Practice," The Writings of Jane Taylor, vol. 3 ()
  • You have control over three things — what you think, what you say, and how you behave. To make a change in your life, you must recognize that these gifts are the most powerful tools you possess in shaping the form of your life.

  • The mind's health, as well as the body's, is promoted by occasional privation or abstinence.

  • O blessed poverty, who bestows eternal riches on those who love and embrace her!

    • Clare of Assisi,
    • in Regis J. Armstrong and Ignatius Brady, eds., Francis and Clare: The Complete Works ()
  • ... until you are master over the earth and air and water and fire in yourself, how can you be master of the elements of Nature?

  • People who keep stiff upper lips find that it's damn hard to smile.

  • If you can't control yourself, you'll never control a situation.

  • The success of life, the formation of character, is in proportion to the courage one has to say to one's ownself: 'Thou shalt not.'

  • The poorest education that teaches self-control is better than the best that neglects it.

  • ... self-control, in every station and to every individual, is indispensable, if people would retain that equanimity of mind, which, depending on self-respect, is the essential of contentment and happiness.

  • ... self-control ... is a thing one can best achieve alone ...

    • Ellen Axson Wilson,
    • letter (1905), in William O. Foss, ed., First Ladies Quotations Book ()
  • Disciplining yourself to do what you know is right and important, although difficult, is the high road to pride, self-esteem, and personal satisfaction.

    • Margaret Thatcher,
    • in John Blundell, Margaret Thatcher: A Portrait of the Iron Lady ()