For me, self discipline is a miraculous natural adaptation that grants the Earth's thinking creatures the possibility of living more enriched, meaningful lives as their species evolve toward ever higher levels of being.

I'm an expert on self discipline because back in the 1960s when I left the Kentucky farm for college I weighed about 340 pounds (154kgs) and was desperately unhappy and screwed up. At the point when I was facing an early death, self discipline got me through, and enabled my metamorphosis into whatever I am now approaching age 70.

Also I'm an expert because I've experienced enough failures of self discipline -- and the consequences -- to know that I'm lucky to have gotten this far without destroying myself. In the same way that former drunkards make the best lecturers on the ravages of alcoholism, I'm a good one to talk about self discipline.

At the thinking tool we call "The Six Miracles of Nature" provides the context for conceiving of self discipline as natural and desirable. Here's how that works:

The Six Miracles picture the Universe as a creation evolving in a certain direction. That direction is toward ever greater diversity of parts that ever more intimately interrelate with one another in ever more sophisticated patterns. The most recent Miracle, the Sixth, is just flickering into existence at this moment during the evolution of human mentality. The Sixth enables thinking beings to refuse the dictates of our genetic and social programming, and do what we think and feel is better.

It is exactly this refusal to submit to predispositions imposed on us by our genes and society that constitutes the act of self discipline.

Our genes tell us to eat fatty, sweet foods, and to fixate on sex because that strategy worked for our distant ancestors on the African veld. Our society tells us to believe whatever political doctrine, religion or economic theory those around us believe. When something tells us that "this isn't right," it is miraculous self discipline that enables us to say no and to orient our lives toward higher meanings.

One indication that self discipline may be something the Creation "wants" us to exercise is that sometimes flashes of insight reveal higher meanings that require of us self discipline if we are to embrace them.

You can glimpse those higher meanings when you look into the starry sky at night trying to grasp the dimensions of things, and sense the tininess and vulnerability of our little Earth.

You can glimpse those higher meanings during pangs of love for a mate, a child, a home, neighborhood, a forest or the sea.

You can glimpse the meanings in certain music, in certain intellectual insights, and sometimes the meanings appear before us for no apparent reason at all.

Now, more than at any other time in human history, is the moment when self discipline is needed among us all, for the welfare of Life on Earth itself is at stake. With self disciplined thought we must gather information, judge what is true and what is false, and then do what we think is right.