There can be no real substitute for self-control. In almost all areas of my life I find that when I choose to live as my whims please, than I become the worst form of my self. I will spare you all the nitty gritty details of what can probably best be described as my "college years".
The most dangerous part of all this is when you forget to check yourself, because really we do it without even noticing. We are exhausted after work and choose to just "veg" out on the couch and watch tv. Before you know it its 9pm and you did nothing at all in your precious after work hours other than mentally shut down. Or you devote your time and resources to consumeristic pleasure and wake up one day with a house full of things that fill a room but leave you feeling empty. The beauty of self-control is that it forces us to live below our wants. And our wants are a scary scary thing.
What I want, if I actually got it, would probably turn me into a monster. If I were free to snap my fingers and instantly be in possession of the world I would probably feel the exact same way I do now. We know this to be true because of Solomon - who wrote arguably the saddest book in the whole Bible. We find that without self-control our passions and our wants and our emotions run rampant and binge x,y, and z. Lust becomes porn, greed becomes theft, pride becomes idolatry, the list goes on and on. A life without self-control isn't freedom and it isn't happiness. It is hell.
To live within boundaries is how we are designed. I know that this isn't a popular thing to say. In a capitalistic culture where everything operates at the speed of light, we often think we deserve to have exactly what we want when we want it. And if we can't have it then we find a way to change things so that we can. Have you ever said no? Was there ever an object that you reeeeaaaallly wanted and truly let it go? I realized today with a shock that I hardly ever do this. If I can't have it now, I find a way to get it "tomorrow" so that one way or another Billy gets what Billy wants. And while that item, or that trinket, or that feeling lasts for a while, I am always amazed to find how quickly that want transitions into another, and another, and another. There will always be something more or new to want or obtain.
So what happens when we say no? Contentedness. What you have, becomes enough. Please hear me, I'm not saying that we should always say no to things and not strive to become better or more learned or practice better forms of living - I'm simply saying that having self-control allows you to find peace, true peace, in what you have. Self-control = self-awareness. And when you are fully aware of yourself, what you have, what you deserve, and what role you are meant to fill, at that point you begin to understand what it means to be you. And from there, you begin to build.