It's been a while but I like to spend a post every now and again on the Delphic Maxims. They are very important for our faith and as such, talking about them--and keeping them in mind--matters. Today I want to talk about number 21: 'cling to discipline' (Παιδειας αντεχου).

I'm not sure if all of you are aware, but I am a bit on the Autism spectrum. Not diagnosed, but it runs (diagnosed) in the family. It's manageable and doesn’t affect my life much; it’s just something to remain vigilant of. One of my primary ‘symptoms’ is that I enjoy structure. I enjoy doing the same thing at the same time every day, or every week, or every month. I like things being predictable. 

For me, doing these things does not require discipline. It might for others, but for me, doing things over and over is exactly what makes me happy. What I have to be vigilant about is the anxiety that comes from breaking my routine. If I do something solely because I can’t stop, I’m in trouble. And it’s happened quite a bit in the past.

Especially as a teenager, I often ended up hooked on things. I was smart enough to avoid drugs or alcohol (both of my parents are prone to addiction issues so I wasn’t going to risk it), but gaming, for example, has been a downfall. What took discipline was putting the controller down. I am not allowed to do Multiplayer Online games anymore because I still have trouble balancing the time I spent doing them. There are more examples, but that goes beyond the purpose of this post.

What I want to talk about today is discipline itself. Discipline, in general, means forcing yourself to behave in a manner not entirely comfortable to your own being. It means getting up to work out if all you want to do is lie around on the couch. It means heading to the office five days a week, even though the tasks suck. It means not doing all the things you want to do because other things are more important, or are better for you.

In order to exhibit discipline, you first need to be aware of your own behavior and your own inclinations towards life. In short, discipline requires the highest good of the ancient Hellenes: knowledge of the self. You need to know who you are in order to affect your own behavior. No matter who you are, facing all the good and all the bad in you takes discipline. There is nothing easy about it. It’s great to pat yourself on the back over all your fine qualities but the bad? No one wants to face the bad. And that is exactly the part that discipline speaks to.

‘Cling to discipline’, as a maxim, reminds me of two things: to do well in, and stick with all things I might not want to do but should do to help myself and others in the long run, and to learn as much about myself and the behavior I am inherently comfortable with so In don’t self-sabotage my life—like I have done often in the past. Discipline, to me, means working towards a better version of yourself, and I believe the ancient Hellenes might have viewed it in the same way. It’s a worthwhile endeavor, after all.