Rules are important but our perspective on rules is even more important. If I see a rule as an obstacle, I am more likely to feel inconvenienced by it. I may be more apt to complain about and eventually break the inconvenient rule. However, if I see a rule as a boundary instead of an obstacle, I appreciate the safety and clarity of what is permissible and why the rule is in place.
Complaining about circumstances has little value in reality. It can make us feel better, but it doesn’t move the needle on the type of improved life we are looking for. If I don’t put in the work required for success, then I can’t legitimately complain about my own lack of success. A case could be made that I could legitimately complain about a lack of opportunities for success. I could complain that hard work doesn’t just come to me at my level of preferred effort. Complaining about a lack of success while refusing to participate in the known practices that achieve that success is not only illogical but also annoying to the people that chose the successful path.
Discipline is an odd word. It can have a negative connotation in that it can mean punishment. We discipline our children when they misbehave. What we mean is that we reinforce the rule that was broken. This teaches the consequence of behaving in an undisciplined way. The hope, I imagine, would be that the consequence would be aversive enough to encourage a more disciplined choice in the future. Once we grow up, we are in charge of our own personal discipline. We decide if we eat our veggies or get enough sleep. Unfortunately, our consequences are usually from our doctor or boss if we don’t make the disciplined choice often enough in our adulthood.
Rules teach us discipline. When something is against the rules, we must have the discipline to avoid it. It’s easy to say rules are made to be broken or to bend a rule. Often we paint a rule as immoral when really its inconvenient. Convenience is not a right and our integrity is measured in how we respect authority and the rules that authority puts into place. It takes discipline to allow ourselves to be inconvenienced by the observance of a rule we don’t agree with. We are better for it when we do.
Rules exist for very good reasons. Many rules exist to keep everyone safe and conditions fair. Rules get added when either safety or fair play are compromised. Rules can have a negative connotation but they teach us our limits. Too often people like to break rules because they don’t like being told no. Why not focus on what is allowed within the boundaries? It takes flexibility and creativity to operate well inside the rules of the game.