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The Joys of Discipline

Jeff Goldblum was the featured guest on an episode of Gregory Porter’s podcast a few years ago. Though best known for his acting, Goldblum is also an accomplished jazz pianist. He performs alongside, and has released two albums with, his band The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra.

Early in the episode, Goldblum begins telling Porter the story of how he got into music. He discusses taking piano lessons when he was young, and said something that caught my attention:

“... I had some facility for it, but I didn’t know the joys of discipline…”

When we talk about discipline, our focus tends to be on the external positive outcomes that accompany it, like how regularly practicing a skill leads to improvement. But Goldblum’s statement suggests there is joy to be found within discipline itself; a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with.

Being disciplined, especially about my musical habits, is joyful for me. Since music is something I value so highly, it is satisfying to consistently show up and do the hard work it takes to learn and grow. When the day is done, I feel a deep sense of accomplishment. The results of my efforts certainly do come, but they end up feeling more like a bonus rather than the whole reward.

For those who struggle to stay consistent in their music habits because they’re too focused on the end goal, this mindset could be an effective remedy.

It can often take a long while to see improvement in something you’re practicing, or to finish a piece of original music you’re writing. This can lead to impatience, which may even prompt some people to give up because it’s taking too long for them to get where they want to go.

Instead, finding joy and satisfaction in the discipline—the act of committing to something, and then following through day after day—will ensure that even when progress is slow, there will still be incentive to stay the course.


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