To make myself more disciplined, I will give myself a “discipline score” of 0 to 10 each day. The score will depend on how early I wake up, how much work I do, whether I bow or not, and how I conduct myself. I will start with a score of 10 each day and add or deduct points depending on my performance.
Although it is possible to score higher than 10 or lower than 0 due to bonus points and deductions, the highest score will be 10 and the lowest score will be 0.
The system is not perfect, but I think it will help me live with basic discipline. I will not do everything at the highest level every day because that might lead to burnout followed by laziness. I will gradually try to raise the level of discipline over a year until I am living at a high level of discipline.
For now, a good day for me would be to wake up at 6 am, work eight hours, have a one-hour workout, do 108 bows after waking and before going to bed, and not have any instances of “bad conduct” despite going out and dealing with people. Of course, sex is prohibited. On such a day I would give myself a discipline score of 10. If I wake up a bit later but do more work or exercise to compensate, I would still get a score of 10 because the level of discipline is similar.
I think this is roughly the discipline level of an average adult in a developed country (excluding the “bowing” and “sex” parts) and most adults live like this every day without having to score themselves. A monk would perhaps have a score of 14 or higher from waking up earlier, doing more work, bowing, and living a cleaner and more impeccable life (e.g. meditating, being celibate, helping or teaching others, not watching TV, following a vegan diet, etc.).
One thing that seems to be helping me is brewing a pot of green tea and drinking it through the day. This subtly purifies and settles my mind and keeps it focused on higher things.
I am also considering going on a temple stay to ratchet up my level of discipline by being among cultivators and adhering to a very strict schedule under severe conditions. I hope the self-control will transfer into my regular life. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but never had the boldness to jump into.
Having a “score” of 10 is basic and something I should have implemented a long time ago. I truly need to get this dialed in if I want to improve my life.
woke up before 6 am: + 1
woke up 6-8 am: 0
woke up 8-9 am: – 1
woke up 9-10 am: – 2
woke up after 10 am: – 3
worked > 9 hrs: + 1
worked 8-9 hrs: 0
worked 6-8 hrs: – 1
worked 4-6 hrs: – 2
worked 2-4 hrs: – 3
worked < 2 hrs: – 4
324 bows or more: + 2
216 bows: + 1
108 bows: 0
0 bows: – 2
no bad conduct*: 0
1 act** of bad conduct: – 1
2 acts of bad conduct: – 2
3 acts of bad conduct: – 3
4 acts of bad conduct: – 4
2 or more workouts: + 1
1 workout: 0
0 workouts: – 1
erotic contact: – 5 every day for a week
intercourse: – 10 every day for a week
[masturbation is not included because I haven't masturbated in nine years and don't even feel tempted to do it]
*”bad conduct”: chat, useless internet browsing, sexual thoughts, rudeness, meanness, irresponsibility
**1 “act”: 1 hour of chat/internet browsing, 1 sexual thought, 1 incident of rudeness/meanness/irresponsibility
[Edit Feb 5, 2014: I made several revisions to these rules. First, I made the penalties for erotic contact and intercourse more severe: - 5 and - 10 every day for a week respectively, because sex undermines my condition for at least a week. Second, under "bad conduct", I've specified that only "useless" internet browsing (not related to work or self-improvement, such as humor sites, entertainment sites, lewd sites including porn, random blogs, and facebook) be penalized. Third, I extended the punishable time unit for chat and internet to one hour from 15 minutes because the latter seemed too short. Fourth, under "bowing", I assigned a "+ 1" to 216 bows and a "+ 2" to 324 or more bows because I felt bowing 216 times should be scored higher than bowing 108 times.]