January 18, 2023

Short-Term Rewards Leave Bitter Aftertaste

I'm reading Discipline is Destiny, written by Ryan Holiday. He shares stories about great, accomplished people, and one of them is Lou Gehrig.

In contrast to Gehrig's discipline, he tells us Babe Ruth's lack of it in his diet.

“Take a look at the diet of Babe Ruth, as he played alongside Lou Gehrig. Breakfast was a pint of whiskey mixed with ginger ale, then steak, four eggs, fried potatoes, and a pot of coffee. For an afternoon snack, it was four hot dogs, each washed down with a bottle of Coca-Cola. He had an early supper and a late supper, each the same: two porterhouse steaks, two heads of lettuce drenched with blue cheese dressing, two platefuls of cottage-fried potatoes, and then two apple pies. Oh and between the two suppers, he had four more hot dogs and four more bottles of Coca-Cola.

Perhaps all that needs to be said is that Ruth was once rushed to the hospital for drinking too much soda and eating too many hot dogs.

It was fun while it went down, but the aftertaste was bitter.”

Excerpt from Discipline is Destiny, written by Ryan Holiday.

I love the last line: It was fun while it went down, but the aftertaste was bitter.

Isn't that the case for all bad habits? For all our vices. Our weakest moments of giving in to temptation. It feels good at the moment, but the consequences bite.

And the opposite is true with discipline. It might be difficult now, but it'll bring us rewards later. Not fleeting fun. Fulfilling, sustainable pleasure.

From now on, I'll use that as a reminder. I'll keep going back to it every time I catch myself losing discipline—the aftertaste is bitter.