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Quotations about
Self-Control & Self-Discipline

He... made it manifest, that he is the happiest man who is happy in himself alone; and he the most powerful, who hath power over, and can command, himself. ~Seneca, translated by Thomas Morell (1703–1784)

No man is free who is not master of himself. ~Epictetus, translated by George Long

Not being able to govern events, I govern myself, and apply myself to them, if they will not apply themselves to me. ~Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592)

I am,
a king,
because I know how
to rule myself.
~Pietro Aretino, 1537

Would you have a great empire? Rule over yourself. ~Publilius Syrus, 1st century BCE, from the Latin by D. Lyman, 1856

I have been my own disciple and my own master. And I have been a good disciple but a bad master. ~Antonio Porchia (1886–1968), Voces, 1943–1966, translated from the Spanish by W.S. Merwin (1927–2019), c.1968

It will all come down to the moment that alarm goes off in the morning. Every single day you can wake up and what you decide to do, that's going to define who you are. ~Chris Powell, Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, "Krista," 2011

He wrestled with the antagonist in his own breast and emerged victorious. ~James Oppenheim, "The Millennium," Songs for the New Age, 1914

The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift of life is yours — it is an amazing journey — and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins. ~Bob Moawad, "The Gift," Whatever It Takes: A Journey into the Heart of Human Achievement, 1995

Discipline weighs ounces, regret weighs tons. ~Author unknown

The controlled person is a powerful person. He who always keeps his head will always get ahead. Edwin Markham said, "At the heart of the cyclone tearing the sky is a place of central calm." The cyclone derives its power from a calm center. So does a person. ~Norman Vincent Peale

To try yourself for Strength and Self-Control,
Deny yourself — and do not tell a Soul!
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Discipline," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924

Heaven is on the other side of that feeling you get when you're sitting on the couch and you get up and make a triple-decker sandwich. It's on the other side of that, when you don't make the sandwich. It's about sacrifice... It's about giving up the things that basically keep you from feeling. That's what I believe, anyway. I'm always asking, "What am I going to give up next?" Because I want to feel. ~Jim Carrey, interview, Michael Fleming, Playboy, 2004

You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage — pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically — to say "no" to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger "yes" burning inside. ~Stephen R. Covey

There is no allurement or enticement, actual or imaginary, which a well-disciplined mind may not surmount. The wish to resist more than half accomplishes the object. ~Charlotte Dacre, The Passions, 1811

And so, Reader, (for it is time to have done with guessing) would I bid you conquer in your warfare against your four great enemies, the world, the devil, the flesh, and above all, that obstinate and perverse self-will, unaided by which the other three would be comparatively powerless. ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827

      Demands which were made of the individual in earlier periods are now considered oppressive. Self-discipline is obsolescent, self-denial unhygienic...
      Self-respect is the fruit of discipline, the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself...
      We prepare the pupil for employment, for holding a job. We do not teach him how to be a person... Skills are vital, but so is self-restraint... ~Abraham J. Heschel, "Essay on Youth," 1960

TEMPTATION.  The banana peel in a man's brain that causes him to slip. ~Noah Lott (George V. Hobart), The Silly Syclopedia, 1905

Did you make any New Year's resolutions? No, you can't really say that you did. Did you ever know anyone who did make New Year's resolutions — regular, honest-to-George-Washington ones? I don't mean the comic supplement brand, "I'm going to swear off something or other," with the right paw raised facetiously, not that sort, but the genuine renunciation with the will power tied up in hard soulful knots and the light of spiritual abnegation in your eye! Yes; in your eye!... Well, you know why you don't make these resolutions! It's because they are difficult, and there is no sense in doing difficult things until you have done all the easy things there are to do. ~James Montgomery Flagg, "I Should Say So: Four Easy New Year's Resolutions," 1915

Renouncing present Pleasure counts for Gain,
When present Pleasure carries future Pain.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Discipline," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924

Discipline is money in the bank. A real friend — true strength. ~Henry Rollins, Get in the Van, 1994,

Resolve is never stronger than in the morning after the night it was never weaker. ~Mike Leigh, Naked, 1993

When glad, we owe the world our joy; when mad, we owe it our self-control. ~William Arthur Ward, Thoughts of a Christian Optimist, 1968

The first attribute that characterizes the greater man from the moron is his thicker layer of inhibition. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

Where Self-restraint is lacking, Order ceases.
A Hoopless Barrel tumbles all to pieces.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Discipline," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924

Most people want to be delivered from temptation but would like it to keep in touch. ~Robert Orben, as quoted in The Reader's Digest, 1986

Not using faults does not mean that one does not have them. ~Antonio Porchia (1886–1968), Voces, 1943–1966, translated from the Spanish by W.S. Merwin (1927–2019), c.1968

Who is fit to govern others?
He who governs himself.
You might as well have said: nobody.
~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827

Do not bite at the bait of pleasure till you know there is no hook beneath it. ~Thomas Jefferson, 1786

May I ever practice self-control,
      May I learn to be patient and kind;
      May I meet my problems with wisdom;
      If I do, I will have peace of mind.
May I keep my temper every day;
      May I be honest and fair and brave;
      May calmness cover me, as a cloak,
      That my own self-respect I may save.
When I give way to anger and fear,
      And when to passions I am a slave,
      I am harming my body and soul
      That my God, in His love, to me gave.
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "When I Am Master of My Soul," 1940s

There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable. ~Mark Twain

We like slipping, but not falling; our real anxiety is to be tempted enough. ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827

Gaining Strength and Self-Control,
Pay the Debt you owe your Soul!
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Duty," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924

If Passion drives, let Reason hold the Reins. ~Benjamin Franklin

I don't rent space to anyone in my head. ~A man on Candid Camera, answering Allen Funt's question about why he had not gotten upset

No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is... You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. ~C. S. Lewis

The greatest of empires, is the empire over one's self. ~Publilius Syrus, 1st century BCE, from the Latin by D. Lyman, 1856

Opportunity may knock only once, but temptation leans on the doorbell. ~Author unknown

[I]t is easy to regard the mind and the body as two slaves trained to obey the imperial soul... [I]n this trinity of soul, mind, and body, it is sometimes hard to tell which of the three is at work; and the personality of each of the three parties interferes a good deal with that of each of the others. But if you who read will remember that you are an infinite child of God, and can partake of his nature, and that you have given to you the management and direction of your mind and your body, you will be saved many failures. ~Edward Everett Hale, "How to Get the Best of It," c.1892  (" a few words and in short metre, the notions I have gained from experience of the best way for handling one's machinery of life so as to get the best and the most of it...")

You are a puppet, but in the hands of the infinite, which may be your own. ~Antonio Porchia (1886–1968), Voces, 1943–1966, translated from the Spanish by W.S. Merwin (1927–2019), c.1968

Nothing makes it easier to resist temptation than a proper bringing-up, a sound set of values — and witnesses. ~Franklin P. Jones, in Quote, as quoted by The Reader's Digest, 1973

ABSTAINER, n.  A weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure. ~Ambrose Bierce

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