Why Self Disciplined People Are Happier

The Party Scientist
4 min readJan 16, 2024


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Learn how to change your behavior, overcome your brain’s reward circuit, and elevate your baseline mood.

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The world is not natural anymore.

Your phone provides on-demand dopamine.

Your lights enable you to stay up all night.

Your headphones provide you with 24/7 stimulation.

Your social media feeds you with endless social validation.

Your grocery store offers you endless fat & sugar.

You get the point.

The world has evolved, but your brain has not. So new strategies are needed to restrain oneself and live happily. Without any strategy, the default is addiction (to screens, entertainment, and video games), obesity, and mental instability.

The strategy I have found to be most durable and reliable is self-discipline.

Self discipline is the ability to behave autonomously from the brain’s reward circuitry.

Without self-discipline, you lower your future well-being and you raise your disease risk — mental and physical.

Without self-discipline, you…

  • adopt an irregular, dysfunctional circadian rhythm and eating cycle.
  • become addicted to notifications, instant messaging, and social media.
  • eat unhealthy, dopamine-rich foods.
  • stimulate yourself with entertainment and information constantly.
  • chase sexual validation as the sole purpose of existence.

Without self-discipline, you have to avoid certain situations that incentivize shortsighted behaviors. Without self-discipline, you are fragile.

Self-discipline causes happiness by various mechanisms. It increases the regularity of your health behaviors. It reduces the amount of time you’re on a screen. It improves the consistency of your body’s circadian rhythm.

Let’s define what I mean by happiness. The reward circuitry in the brain is optimized for shortsighted pleasures — often, things that reduce your mental and physical health in the long run. Happiness is less about pleasure and more about a consistently elevated baseline mood. This mood is not dependent on external pleasure. It’s dependent on mind & body training conducted far in the past.

The training creates a ‘default’ mindset and mood that are both elevated and resilient. No pleasure seeking is necessary to get the feelings. They are already there, because previous behaviors have created an optimized state of health and nervous system regulation.

So happiness is created in the past according to this perspective. And it’s more about your average mood and how quickly your mood returns to baseline after negative events, than it is about the mere mood level in-this-moment.

Dopamine-spiking activities elevate your mood in this moment, but sacrifice your mood in the next moment. Self-discipline sacrifices your mood in this moment, for progressive increases in the baseline mood for your future self.

The higher your self-discipline, the healthier your future physiological state.

The healthier your physiological state, the higher your emotional well-being. Less cortisol and inflammatory markers!

How To Cultivate Self Discipline

Power over the dopaminergic system is a muscle. It’s also a muscle that can be fatigued. There are two approaches I take.

  1. Stop the poison.
  2. Get the nutrition.

You want to first avoid stimuli that strengthen your brain’s reward circuits. Then, you want to expose yourself to trainings that reinforce mental fortitude. If you do #2 first, then the poison will destroy all your progress.

Two is about stoic training — building your self-restraint and mental fortitude through intentionally exposing yourself to discomfort. This raises your tolerance for discomfort. When this happens, you maintain autonomy over your mind’s reward circuits at higher levels of urges and discomforts.

That’s all self-discipline is about — withstanding the bodies’ unfavorable shortsighted sensations — urges and discomforts.

Here’s the list of poisons.

  1. Social media likes and validation
  2. Social media scrolling
  3. Short-form entertainment videos
  4. Phone dings and pings
  5. Pornography
  6. Drugs used to escape physical reality
  7. Sugar rich foods
  8. 24/7 musical and auditory stimuli
  9. Friends who encourage ‘treating yourself’
  10. Friends who ‘treat themselves’

ps: Have any to add? Comment them below.

Here’s the list of nutrients.

  1. A strong identity
  2. Cold exposure
  3. Strength training
  4. Silence and solitude
  5. Float-tanking
  6. Stage 3 deep sleep
  7. Heart rate variability training
  8. Mindfulness training
  9. Behavioral plans
  10. Stoic mentors and friends like David Goggins

ps: Have any to add? Comment them below.

The goal of all of this is to raise your ability to tolerate discomfort — in the form of urges, pain, distressing thoughts, or social pressure.

When you develop a strong identity and discomfort tolerance, an environment filled with temptations is no longer a problem. You can be anywhere and be autonomous.

Final Recommendation

Commit to removing one poison from your life.

If you’re feeling thankful, could you like or comment this article? What wisdom do you have to share with other readers? We’d love to hear your additions.

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Thanks for spreading healthier human connections 🧠

— Jacques



The Party Scientist

Human Connection & Belonging Strategist | Professor of Shared Joy | I help leaders reinvent how they connect their people and build community