Friday, October 16, 2015

Led Around By Your “Gotta Haves”

Two women who had just met at a health spa were talking about their lifestyles and how they hope to stay healthy. One asked the other to detail her daily routine.

“I eat moderately,” she replied, “I exercise moderately, I drink moderately, and I live moderately.”

“Is there anything else you do?” her new friend asked.

“Yes,” she said, “I lie extensively.”

A Hindu proverb says, “Even nectar is poison if taken in excess.” I believe in moderation. But moderation takes a certain amount of self discipline. It’s about saying no from time to time. But how does it feel to never say no? To be out of control? Success and even happiness are simply not possible without some inner discipline.

One hospital patient aptly described the problem. When visiting with a chaplain, this patient, who was being treated for venereal disease, said, “Reverend, my trouble is I’ve been led around by my ‘gotta haves’ all my life.”

Without learning how to say no to ourselves at the appropriate times, it’s like we’re led around by our “gotta haves” all our lives. Whatever we think we gotta have this moment is what we go after. We gotta have more pleasure or less discomfort or this experience or that new thing or another glass or more of this or a bigger and better something else.... You fill in the blanks.

On the other hand, some of the happiest people I know feel in control of themselves most of the time. If they overdo, their excessiveness does not become a lifestyle. If they deviate from the goals they’ve set, they soon get back on course. They know how to have fun without being led around by their gotta haves.

I like the words of Bernard Baruch. “In the last analysis,” he said, “our only freedom is the freedom to discipline ourselves.” The point is -- control is going to come from somewhere. If not from ourselves, then from somebody else. 

Discipline is deciding not to be led around by our gotta haves. It is the task of a lifetime, an indispensable prerequisite to success, and the only way to be truly free.

-- Steve Goodier

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