Why do most Americans fear self discipline?
America is one of the most successful civilizations in history. That is not an understatement. Whether we’re talking about material well being, life expectancy and the general ability of any kind of government or society to provide for its people, america is at the top.
It is no slacker when it comes to cultural contributions as well as economic innovations. We’re not even talking about technology here. That’s how dynamic america has historically been.
But despite this rosy, shallow surface appearance, there are certain troubling trends that may undercut and, eventually, undermine and sabotage america’s success. I am, of course, talking about the self discipline crisis.
You have to remember that for the longest time, the biggest contributing factor to anybody’s success in the United States is ones ability to work hard. I’m not just talking about digging a ditch or doing any kind of manual labor. I’m talking about something bigger than that.
Believe it or not, even if you’re working at an office and you haven’t lifted a shovel in your life, you can still work hard. You work hard with your mind. In fact, if you think about it, this is harder than physical work.
With physical work, there’s no thinking involved. You just basically press a button, you dig a ditch, you work the levers of the machine that’s assigned to you and you’re good to go. You just repeat that several times over the course of 8 hours.
Well, if your job involves any kind of decision making, analysis or cross referencing, it can be hard because you have to make difficult decisions. These decisions are not inconsequential. They can translate to profit or loss.
I don’t know about you, but I have yet to discover a private company that doesn’t exist for profit. The only exceptions to this that I’m aware of are the government and non-profit organizations. But other than that, market based companies, particularly private ones, need to make a profit.
This is why people are under a lot of stress and it has always been the American ethic to work hard. Whether you work with your muscles or with your brain, you have to work hard. Fair enough.
But the problem is the way society has evolved to this point is that it undermines this core pillar of hard work. I’m talking about the self discipline problem.
If you live in a society where pizza is expected to be delivered in 15 minutes or it’s free, you’re going to have a problem. If you live in a society where after you click on some stuff on Amazon, you expect it to appear on your porch steps over night or, at the very latest, 2 days from now, you’re going to have a problem with self discipline.
Make no mistake. The greatest idol in america today is the idol of convenience. Everything is all about getting stuff right here, right now. We’ve completely forgotten about the virtue of delayed gratification.
Make no mistake. Delayed gratification or the ability to work hard at something that seems like a chore and such a hassle today and then the next day and the day after that in the hopes of getting a big reward in the future is what built america.
This is the mindset of people. They have a long term view. They’re willing to make the necessary sacrifices now so as to enjoy a much better tomorrow.
Well, unfortunately, the culture has changed dramatically because we have placed such a heavy emphasis on convenience. It is no surprise that most Americans fear, if not outright hate, self discipline. “Why can’t I have my cake now? Why can’t I eat the candy now? Why do I have to wait?”