Tag Archives: change habits

Does Discipline Only Work By Using Rewards and Punishment?

Here is another article in our BFFT series – the Benjamin Franklin Favorite Tips for Personal Development.  This one has to do with having Discipline and Self-Control.  (Discipline being self-discipline in this context).

Discpline is an interesting topic, isn’t it?  Just hearing the word brings forth images of children getting paddled, or a having a feeling of deprivation!  Most of us think about either being punished if we don’t do something “good for us” or that someone of a higher authority THINKS is good for us!  And SOMETIMES if we are good enough, we get rewarded with a special treat.

This behavior often starts when we are growing up and we continue it ourselves when we get older.  Have you ever given yourself a reward for losing so many pounds?  Have you received a special reward at work for making a deadline or lining up a particularly lucrative customer?

It doesn’t actually have to work like that though, and there is a movement in parenting, as reported by Rebecca English on TheConversation.com called “gentle parenting” where good behavior is its own reward.  They believe that doing the right thing is a tendency we are all born with and it gets overridden by the rewards and punishment mentality.  All the treats and forbidden activities have us learning to behave like Pavlov’s dog!

There is a growing amount of research that shows this philosophy of rewards and punishment doesn’t work so well in the workplace either.  Most people don’t actually perform better when they are rewarded with money and recognition. But they DO perform better when they are happy and feel valued.  This seems to indicate that there might just be something to the whole Gentle Parenting philosophy!

But back to Ben.

He believed that discipline and self-control help you have a better life. It allows you to live a life of no regrets and to flow with our natural inclination to do good.

You may be thinking to yourself, “OK, that sounds great, but I didn’t learn that when I was young and it is just too late to teach this old dog new tricks!”

Stuff and Nonsense. (doesn’t that sound like something Ben would say?)

It doesn’t have to be that difficult, and you don’t have to turn over a new leaf with all aspects of yourself overnight!  You can take this great advice from blogger Leo Babauta on his zenhabits.com website:

How do you get started with the discipline habit when you have so much to change?

You start by washing your dishes.

It’s just one small step: when you eat your cereal, wash your bowl and spoon. When you finish drinking coffee or tea, wash your cup. Don’t leave dishes in the sink or counter or table.

Mindfully wash your dish, right away.

Form this habit one dish at a time, one day at a time. Once you do this for a few weeks, you can start making sure the sink is clean. Then the counter. Then put your clothes away when you take them off. Then start doing a few pushups. Eat a few vegetables.

One of these at a time, you’ll start to build the discipline habit and trust yourself to stick to something.

But for now, just wash your dishes. Mindfully, with a smile.

Increasing your discipline and self-control is just a matter of changing your habits and being mindful about what you are doing and how it makes you feel. 

If you feel that you need a little help while you are changing your habits, BrainSpeak has many programs using special sound patterns – some with silent subliminals and some without – that can make the process easier. Check them out on our store!