A few days after Halloween, I was giving my daughter a piece of candy as part of her allowance from her Trick-or-Treating loot. As I gave it to her, she started munching on it right away with great fervour. As I began my lesson to her to think about the long game of enjoying less over more time, I said, “You know, if you bite the candy, it will finish more quickly -” to which she promptly and excitedly replied, “I know!”
There’s no question that she gets her sweet tooth from me. My wife can’t eat more than a single piece of anything sweet before needing to move on. I actually used to feel bad for her that she couldn’t enjoy an assortment of sweets if there was, for example, more than one kind of cupcake or doughnut.
I, on the other hand, have a major sweet tooth. I eat pretty much any sweet thing if it’s vegan. This wasn’t always a problem for me. Being vegan, my options for dessert used to be quite few and far between, so I would usually get a nice bowl of fruit at get togethers while the others would eat their cakes and treats. Over time, family and friends would experiment in making those said treats without dairy and now that more of them are seeing the health benefits of the vegan diet in general, nearly everything, healthy or not, is vegan at get togethers. This is great for everyone, but made me realize something about myself.
I used to think that I had great discipline when it came to my eating habits. I was never tempted to go back on my choice to be vegan and so it was easy to say no to anything that didn’t fit that criteria. It was the introduction of the “qualified” temptation from which came the realization that the illusion of discipline came not from a mastery of self-control, but abstinence. This, of course, is not the best way to conquer overindulgence. In the case of vegan desserts, I am at perfect liberty to enjoy them but self-control will come by exercising self-control while in their presence. Whereas abstinence is absolutely necessary to conquer addiction, overindulgence in desires that are not necessarily harmful in controlled quantities calls for practice. Putting limits in place with consequences for breaking those promises and being held accountable aid in that practice. Over time, desire decreases and contentment with less increases.
I’m going to start practicing this for the month of December along with a greater emphasis on personal health and fitness. I will be posting my progress on Patreon and would love if you signed up and joined me. Each month I will be focusing on a new habit and engaging with patrons who would like to come along for the journey.
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