The recent posts on Rolf Wetzell's Chessmaster...at any age have got me thinking about not just improving my chess, but using chess for self-improvement. Wetzell talks a lot about discipline: the discipline to avoid time pressure, the discipline to study on schedule, to maintain one's health as the basis for achieving long-term career goals in chess, etc.
I like this idea of using chess to improve one's life. Feel like eating junk food? Not good for your chess! Jogging not attractive on a cold morning? Get out and do it for your chess! Sleeping, eating and breathing chess could be the best thing to motivate one to do the right things in life, if it was looked at in that light.
I think some of those who've gone before us talked about training to be a warrior in this way; the great thing about chess is that after the discipline and the preparation, when you put it in practice you have a much better chance of coming home alive and with all of your limbs intact!