“We are free to choose our actions, but we are not free to choose the consequences of these actions.” Stephen R Covey

And that quote is the fundamental rationale for the imposition of self-discipline and self-denial.

The facts are: if we eat too much and do not move much, we gain weight. We can ‘positive mind attitude’ otherwise all we like, we will get fatter. We can treat people with disrespect and optimistically expect them to respect our motives and authority, but they will eventually move on and leave us adrift in a mess of our own construction. We can flog an engine to death and not maintain it, and it will break down. Consequences just ‘are’.

But the beauty of principles is that we can anticipate consequences and adjust our behaviour accordingly. We may perceive a period at work where we won’t be able to exercise as much as we normally do, and reduce our calorific intake accordingly. In a moment of anger we can want to say something pithy, witty and sarcastic, but choose, instead, to shut up. We can maintain an engine through periodic maintenance.

Self-discipline lets us apply principles to ourselves in such a way as to almost guarantee that the consequences will be of our choosing, and not that of fate.

Principles always apply.