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Manly Virtue: Temperance (10 Steps To Self-Control And Self-Discipline)

8 July 2008 8 Comments

Temperance is one of the 7 main virtues that oppose the 7 deadly sins. It is opposite of Gluttony and can best be described as “moderation” or “practicing self-control”. It may be defined as the righteous habit which makes a man govern his natural appetite for pleasures of the senses.

How this virtue is seen as manly in nature is obvious to most. The results often lie in how people perceive us as men and having manliness characteristics. If we have a strong temperance to never ending temptations that present themselves, those results will be seen by others.

Reasons why we should practice this manly virtue

Live longer. Without the constant abuse of gluttonous activity on our bodies (over eating, over smoking, over drinking, over whatever), we stand a much better chance to grow old gracefully and live much longer. Of course, any vice we have in our lives should be done in moderation, if at all, but this goes for any activity – whether it be a traditional vice or something less apparent such as working. Us workaholics also have to show good temperance to know when to relax and play.

Have better health. Being overweight, sick all the time, using too much medication and the like can all be viewed as results of gluttonous activity. Moderation and temperance towards eating and other temptations we are faced with every day may lead to much better health in your life. It could lead to better exercise, better sex, better mental stability, a better marriage, better family relationships, and so on. Having better health is also MUCH better for your wallet…

Less expensive. Showing moderation, self-control, self-discipline, and temperance all lead to a more frugal lifestyle. It gets very expensive if you have to go to a doctor, chiropractor or psychotherapist every other week to help fix one’s addictions or over-indulgences. Check out some empirical evidence from some of the experts at The Simple Dollar, Get Rich Slowly and Frugal Dad. Frugal Dad tackles another very key aspect of practicing temperance – contentment. Having this is key to being able to say “no” when others who are faced with the same temptations say “yes”.

Seen as strong willed. Most people associate a strong man with a strong will to do what is right. Showing restraint, moderation and contentment when all others are giving into their temptations to splurge is a clear message to all around you that your are a man with convictions. You know what is best for you and your body and will not be deterred.

Modesty. A key trait in manliness is to show modesty in one’s success. The ability to control one’s celebration in victory (or one’s mourning in defeat) shows wonderful temperance. Modesty is also a key virtue that we will explore at a later date. This virtue can also be described as having great humility.

Be a role model. If you don’t or can’t show restraint for yourself, then do it for others – especially your children. Kids are like sponges and will see you as the parent as “the way to do things”. They see their parents as superheros that will always show them the right way of doing things. If you are not showing self-discipline and self-control when it comes to certain vices, how would you expect them to show it as well? If you don’t have kids, then do it for the people who love you. They give their love unconditionally, but there is no better way to pay them back for their love by being a good role model.

Tips to practicing self-control and self-discipline

The act of showing temperance is often related to those who have great self control and self discipline. Napoleon Hill once said,

Self-disciplined begins with the mastery of your thoughts. If you don’t control what you think, you can’t control what you do. Simply, self-discipline enables you to think first and act afterward.

Here are some helpful tips in showing the manly virtue of temperance.

  1. Analyze your life and be specific. Learn the areas you want to start exhibiting self control and start the process ASAP. Be specific. Don’t simply say I want to practice more self-control or discipline in my life.
  2. Analyze the area where you lack self-control. Educate yourself on the right ways to accomplish what you are setting out to do. You need to arm yourself with the right information and, more importantly, surround yourself with the right people to support the area you wish to change.
  3. Set goals easily accomplished. Some call it Progressive Training. I simply say you need to build momentum. Once you know you can accomplish a goal of self-discipline or self-control, then you will start believing you can do it forever. You mind will be tricked, trained, re-wired, etc to believe you now have those skills. You will be building the self-control habit and exercising those muscles.
  4. Stay accountable. Do your best not to cheat on your goals. Of course, you will slip up from time to time, but it is how we react to those mini-failures that determines our long-term success. If you slip up, admit it like a man. Take responsibility and move on. Remember, you are in it for the long-term and nothing will deter your goals – even yourself.
  5. Review your progress regularly with others. Set those attainable goals, stay accountable to yourself and your plan, and review your progress with others. Telling your support group how you are doing is one the strongest techniques to getting through the temptations of the lack of self-control.
  6. Deny yourself. That’s right. Self-discipline and self-control is about denying yourself your temptations. If you have things around that tempt you (i.e. junkfood, cigarettes, the wrong people, etc) then give them away or sell them immediately. Have fun with it. It is only going to make you stronger in your convictions to accomplish your goals.
  7. Don’t remove your desire from your life. If you don’t want to give them away or sell whatever tempts you, then embrace it and put it front and center. Deliberately challenge yourself with that desire. Addicted to chocolate? Put a big bowl of M&M’s in the center of your kitchen table and every time you see it, convince yourself you are stronger than your addiction. Before long, you will have programmed yourself to exhibit tremendous temperance.
  8. Don’t punish yourself for slipping up. Everyone has the weak moments. Acknowledge them and move on with your goals. Understand why you did it and how you will address the desire next time it comes up. Never beat yourself up or put yourself down for the slip up. You are human and it is not a matter of IF it was going to happen, but WHEN.
  9. Comparing to others is a waste of time. You have your own goals and your own agenda. Manliness is about setting your own rules and living by your own set of beliefs. You will not be duped into believing you are failing in your quest or not doing enough by comparing (or having someone compare you) to someone else. Be strong and believe in your convictions.
  10. Don’t get carried away. Even self-discipline and self-control can be overdone. Don’t fall off the deep end with this. Realize when enough is enough and never let your desires get in the way with loving your family and friends. This is oftentimes the biggest challenge once you have conquered self-control and self-discipline.

Finally, my father said it best when I was very young. He told me that “too much of anything is not good for you.” From time to time, I try very hard to think of things that don’t fit that mold – love; happiness; friends; family; health. The more I think about it, he was right. All those things are wonderful, but if not taken care of, can have an ugly side as well. I guess that’s why I love the saying “Everything in moderation (even moderation).”


  • John said:

    In my opinion, temperance is the root of all other virtues. It is the one that makes you stop and think about every action you take. Parcticing temperance will have an impact on the successful practice of every other virtue. Great article, and a great encouragement for all of us who try to practice these virtues in our lives!

    Johns last blog post..Pampers vs. Huggies

  • Kevin said:

    Thanks John…I read your last post. I am a father of a 14 week old. We struggle with the two, but have settled in with Huggies. My wife loves the Pampers though and she will probably win out in the end. Congrats on being a father…we are so happy and I am sure you are too!!!

  • rummuser said:

    I am a father of an alcoholic in recovery. I too joined up with AA to help him get over his addiction and while I have now been without any alcohol in my system for nine years, my son with God’s grace has been so for the past eight. That turning point in my life made me realize that moderation alone is not enough in many cases and temperance or even total giving up is a far better alternative. Your post is very inspiring. Thank you.

    rummusers last blog post..Customer Service – Price.

  • Kevin (author) said:

    @rummuser – thank you for sharing. Your comments are very touching and I wish you and your son the absolute very best.

  • SAMUEL said:


  • Bill @ howtofixarelationship said:

    There is one area in my life that I have been trying to change for sometime now and still find it dificult, it has landed me in trouble more time than I can remamber. I have managed to control it in certain areas in my life, and thats round my family. Now I need to take control at work, I might just get that promotion.

  • danboy said:


    Thanks for this site. I have been a long time drinker. I stayed sober for 5 yrs once and gave in to lifes frustrations. When I was young, I was made fun of often for my (real) name. I believe this had such a profound impact on me that from that moment on, I subconciously decided to run instead of deal with my emotions in the future toward people.

    I generally don’t like people and have jumped around from job to job for a long time. I think I’ve worked at 15-18 places in 22 years time. Could someone please relate to me how the practice of temperance can help in my gaining enough self esteem so as to not let people and the general conditional requirements of life continue to overtake me along with my default reactions.

    I should also say I have asked God to come into my life and help me to remove all negative reactions and practice temperance. God blessed me with an understanding spouse who has been carrying the ball in many areas, a very strongwill focused person, the opposite of me. I need to also repay her in due tome, but don;t know really how.

    Thanks very much, danboy524 aattggmmaillddottccomm

  • Bradon Wall said:

    I am wondering if you be OK with me using the Temperance image in a video I am making about virtue? Do you own the rights to it? I am simply posting the video on Youtube.

    Brandon Wall

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