self-dis·ci·pline [self-dis-uh-plin, self-] - Noun
Discipline and training of oneself, usually for improvement: Acquiring the habit of promptness requires self-discipline
Self-discipline takes many forms - everything from biting one's fingernails to throwing things in a fit of anger. It is something that we struggle with everyday. One person's self-discipline in one area may be easy while it is very difficult for another. Oftentimes, self-discipline can be a too much of a good thing...not knowing when to stop. There is a saying "all things in moderation." What areas do you need to work on self-discipline? Here are a few - Being neat and tidy; being prompt; procrastinating, doing exercises; eating a good balance of food. Then, there are bigger issues - giving in to the temptations of smoking, gambling, and drinking. Others may have issues with anger management or being too curious. How does self-discipline affect the everyday lives of students? Every day they need to do their homework after school, they must keep their desks and lockers clean, they must practice their musical instruments, they must attend their sport's practices, they must take their vitamins...the list goes on. It is an issue that faces them every day. In the story that follows you will see how one of the greatest warriors of China failed to control his anger.
"The first and best victory is to conquer self." Greek Philosopher - Plato
On Your Own
Have you ever been so angry that you wanted to hit something? What do you do when that anger wells up in you? Have you actually hit something in anger? What were the consequences? Where is the "Far East" located on a map? What is the largest country in the Far East? Do you know the name of the greatest warrior of China?
The King and His Hawk
Retold by James Baldwin
Thomas Jefferson gave us simple but effective advice about controlling our temper: count to ten before you do anything, and if very angry, count to a hundred. Genghis Khan (c. 11621227), whose Mongol empire stretched from eastern Europe to the Sea of Japan, could have used Jefferson's remedy in this tale.
In the story by James Baldwin , he compares Genghis Khan with Alexander the Great. Do some research on these two historical and famous warrior leaders. How are they the same and how do they differ?
Creative Writing: There are two other stories that follow the same theme as The King and His Hawk - rushing to judgment through anger or grief can cause dire consequences. Read these two stories The Fable of the Goat by S.Y. Agnon and The Legend of Gelert.
Before having the class write their own story along this theme. Discuss the following:
What three places do these stories take place? China in the mountains and woods, starts in father's house in land outside Israel but boy goes to Land of Israel, Wales in a castle.
What kind of words in each story give clues as to where the story came from? This could be specific descriptions or individual words (like "Queen Sabbath" or a "palace of stone on the banks of the Conwy, lived Llywelyn ap Iorwerth - Llywelyn Fawr - Llywelyn the Great - Lord of Snowdon"
What time periods did these stories take place - 1200's, does not say in the story but clues let you know it was a long time ago, Medieval times
What animals were killed - hawk, goat, dog
Who killed the animals - Genghis Kahn, the father, Prince Llywelyn
For more stories like The Legend of Gelert, read these short stories: http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0178a.html
As you can see the setting, the characters, the kind of words used, are different, but they all tell basically the same story. Each character has a good relationship with an animal they love. Then, in a fit of anger and grief, they unthinkingly destroy the animal. Now, find your own time, place, characters, words and write your own story using the same theme.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Stories from fellow tellers- These are categorized by the type of self-discipline that is in the story. I humbly thank my good cyber buddies from the Storytell listserve and the Northlands Google Group for the following suggestions: Csesnge Zalka, Richard Martin, Karen Chace, Marilyn McPhie, Judy Schmidt, Priscilla Howe, Yvonne Healy, Mel Davenport
Frau Holle - a good girl/bad girl story. The good girl does as she is told, but the bad girl is lazy and gets her comeuppance.
The Wounded Selkie - a fisherman get so angry at a selkie that he drives a knife into its skin.
- The Story of Job - where Lot's wife is turned into a pillar of salt because she turned around.
- Girl From Heaven - African. When a star maiden is captured she agrees to stay as long as he doesn't look in her basket.
- The Gift of the Mermaid- Good girl/Bad girl story. Each is given a box to open when they get home. Bad girl can't wait and opens it to find crabs, seaweed and shells. The other is rewarded with riches.
- Orpheus and Eurydice - the Greek gods warned Orpheus not to look at Eurydice until they made it safely out of Hades.
- Anansi and the Hat-Shaking Dance - Anansi the Spider vows not to eat for the 8 days of the funeral.
- The King Has Donkey Ears - The barber can't stand not telling anyone that the king has donkey ears, so he tells it to a hole in the ground. The secret still finds it's way to the king.
- The Golden Fish -or The Fisherman and His Wife an old folktale about a man who saves a fish that grants him a wish. The wife keeps asking for a bigger and bigger house until they find themselves back where they began.
- Why the Sky Is Far Away - African. The people become greedy and complacent about the gifts of the sky until the sky rises up so high they can no longer reach it. Book Form
Little Penguin’s Tale, by Audrey Wood, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, San Diego, 1989. One little penguin does not do as he is advised. He has no self-discipline and it almost causes his sad demise.
Baby Rattlesnake retold by Lynn Moroney - Baby Rattlesnake thinks he's old enough to have a rattle. But, he gives into his desire to trick others with it...until he meet the Indian maiden.
Doorways to the Soul; 52 Wisdom Tales from Around collected by Elisa Davy Pearmain. A collection of stories with 6 under the heading of "self-discipline.
The Six Swan Brothers retold by Adele Geres. Young sister endures hardship, and exemplifies true self-discipline, as she saves her brothers.
Loren Niemi: Both Zen and Sufi traditions have stories where self discipline and/or perseverance are rewarded. The various Idries Shah collections would be where I'd be looking
Self-respect is the fruit of discipline: the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself. Abraham Heschel
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