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‘No’ to pleasure and ‘Yes’ to Happiness – Part 3

Discipline- external or internal?

Some people practice strong determination in some areas and may even achieve success externally. But on their internal journey or personal habits, they may struggle to exercise adequate restraint.

Jesse Owens faced racial prejudice since childhood. As a black American, he had nothing going his way. Still, with tremendous determination and self-discipline, he won four gold medals at the historic Berlin Olympics in 1936 where Owens’ stupendous achievements crushed Hitler’s myth of white Aryan supremacy. But as a black man in America, he faced discrimination. Also, he was never invited to the President’s White House- an honor many athletes are showered with. After the games, he worked as an attendant at gas stations and ran against racehorses in entertainment shows, to earn money for his daily livelihood. He confessed that although he had four gold medals, he couldn’t eat them; he still needed money to live. After his death, American President Jimmy Carter paid tributes, “perhaps no athlete better symbolized the human struggle against tyranny, poverty, and racial bigotry.” Ironically though, a few years after his historic achievements in the Olympics, Owens got addicted to smoking. For more than thirty-five years, he smoked a packet daily and later suffered and eventually died from a severe type of lung cancer.

Like Jesse Owens, many who succumb to alcohol, cigarettes or drugs teach us that if we don’t practice self-control, someone else will control us. Often we fight with others and struggle externally but still aren’t happy because we are unwilling to battle with our own lower nature. Our fulfilling happiness is dependent on our self-discipline- the ability to recognize and face the fact that we are ourselves the biggest roadblock to our success. To remove the obstacles on our path, we need to choose one of the two pains- the pain of discipline or that of regret.

To be continued…

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