Dec 172011
“‘Tis the Season”, blah blah blah…

Okay, so for most of the world that can currently afford it, we are coming into a time of year heavily associated with excess. Excess spending, excess eating, excess drinking… The only thing that seems to avoid this excess is often “anything good for us”.

I’m not going to bother with a post berating you and saying you shouldn’t have a good time. Quite the opposite..

I firmly believe that it is an essential point of our existence to be able to have a good time in a social situation. The hormones released when we are stressed (cortisol etc) generally have negative effects when they are present too often, so having happy and enjoyable experiences to balance and diminish their presence just seems like a Good Idea.

 But how happy does it really make you?

I am going to tell you something that I would like you to consider:

Feeling powerful makes me feel happier.

Does it make you feel happier?

There is then, obviously, a flip side:

Feeling powerless or manipulated makes me feel less happy.

Does it make you feel less happy?

Enjoy the moment… but it’s not just a moment…

I have become very fond of the word “predict” and all of its variants. I would love for anyone reading this to engage in a little experiment for me.

Whenever it seems relevant, I would like you to look at an action you are about to take, and attempt to predict how much action you could take to get the greatest ongoing benefit from it.

Please note that in this context, I am considering only emotion, but our emotions are very much tied to our physical form and goals.

  • One alcoholic drink will do you little harm. The next day, you will likely feel proud of your restraint and not regret not drinking more. There is likely to be a point where the volume consumed will result in shame or other negative feelings in the future that outweigh any immediate benefits. How close to this predicted point do you want to risk?
  • Refusing to eat any dessert or similar “treats” may make the most sense regarding your energy intake not becoming excessive… but would complete refusal make you feel proud of your restraint or would it make you feel isolated from the social experience? Would you feel regret having not at least experienced a little?
  • It may seem like a lot of stress to fit in an “entire” workout session during busy times, but how much would you need to achieve to at least have that comforting thought that you “at least did something, moved forward in one way or another”? Do you think having that feeling would be worth the stress of fitting something in?
Just a few examples to consider. Do you check your actions before you take them? Are you selling your future contentment for a fleeting moment of satisfaction? Are you sacrificing too much now for a satisfaction that may never come?

Food for thought?