SO, I know that's a pretty grand title, and believe me, I'll get to that point. But to begin I have to explain the thought process that led me there.


I've had the idea for a while now that my life would be considerably better if I could fully control my own actions, based solely on reasonable decisions. However, this doesn't seem to be the current case. The other day, after having eaten half a pizza, I still had the other half left. I KNEW that: the calories would worsen my already burgeoning weight problem, that my girlfriend would be mad that I didn't save her dinner, and that there would be shame in my own lack of self control if I ate the pizza. I was even full, and knew that it would cause me some discomfort to carry the extra food around. But the smell of that cheese and pepperoni was too much, and I ate it anyways.

The ultimate result was worse than if I'd just put the half back in the fridge. I knew it was an unreasonable choice and that the end would be bad, but I made that decision anyways. And as an atheist, I find it very disturbing that I can't even enforce my own reason on myself. I've seen the same pattern evolve with homework, getting up in the morning, exercise, cleaning, masturbation, even things like my work. The immediate reward of procrastinating, eating, laying there, etc is overwhelmingly chosen, and I don't even usually like the outcome

I feel that if I were somehow able to force myself to make the "correct" choices, my life would be better. I'd be healthier, I'd be fit, I'd go to bed on time, I'd get better grades, I'd live in a spotless apartment, and I'd have more money. There is no question that overriding my base desires would (a vast majority of the time) improve my life.


So now I admit, the title was just to catch your eye- it is a far reaching extension of my own observations about myself. It is a bit of a reach to assume that just this is the source of "man's suffering". But I do still pose the question- how can one overcome these short term, self-destructive, basic desires, these urges, in order to undoubtedly improve your life?

Tags: self-control, urges

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Don't worry- she wasn't really all that disappointed. The pizza was my lunch and she wasn't all that excited about having reheated pizza for dinner. I think I just added the part about her being disappointed to exaggerate the "badness" of what I was doing. If in reality it would have made her upset, I would definitely have saved it. The consequences of eating the entire thing were minor and not immediate; I think that maybe I just need to lower my threshold for acceptable misbehavior.

You are missing the point - you let her decide if she wants it or not - and in the bigger picture, carry on with everything else, she won't be around for long anyway :(

I don't get the impression he is missing the point.  The purpose of his examples was just to serve as an illustration of his thought process, not to demonstrate that he was some train wreck of a person who needed us to sort him out.  I think he was trying to clarify that people are reading too deeply into the example provided.  The pizza affair?  Not a life event.

For all we know, his life could be ninety percent on track, and he's just a mindful person contemplating that other ten percent.  Then again, for all we know he could be a total slob.  Either way I don't think that was the point of the thread.

None of us live our lives as perfectly as reason would allow.  None of us.  As in not one.  So why not?  Why do you and Lee and I act against reason and our own self interest from time to time? 

I believe that was the point of the thread.  If you cannot find examples analogous the pizza affair in your own life, I will concede a very marginal possibility that there are none, but more likely than not, you just aren't digging.

I actually agree with you.  It's fine to have your pleasures if you do it responsibly.  Then, they're not destructive. 

When you're young you can afford to squander your time.  When you get older you realise you've got no time left, and the last thing you want to do is waste your rapidly dwindling days. 

Urges can be a source of suffering. Urges can also be a source of motivation to complete a goal it jsut depends on how you use them. Here are a few things that help me deal with urges:

- Get a stack of post-it notes and a pen and write yourself reminders and stick them in places you will read them... like on the bathroom mirror or front door.

- To keep myself from over eating I package my food into serving size quantities and then use those post-it notes to write for example: "Tuesday Lunch." It helps to invest in some nice reusable containers that are serving sized.

- I make deals with myself. It sounds silly but I tell myself 1 hour of studying set a timer and then I get to watch that show or bum around on the internet for a while.

- I like Heather's suggestion for cleaning, give yourself 5, 10, 15 minutes and clean as much as you can in that amount of time each day. It really does make a difference.


You have already identified things that you'd like to change. The next step is to make these things a priority and create new habits. Don't bite off more than you can chew though. Don't think you are going to go from overeating and sitting around to going to the gym 5 days a week. Don't think your house is suddenly going to be spotless. Take it a step at a time.

Moderation and discipline. Longed for but rarely attained. An idle mind is the devil's playground so to speak. Avoid the couch or easy chair like the plague and immerse yourself in physical activities. For myself keeping a small vineyard and large vegetable garden going provides many opportunities to stay in shape. Being outdoors is key for me. That way I'm not in the house looking at food. 

All things in moderation, including moderation --

Is this advice any use to you?  Decide what your goals are (say, for the day), and once those are achieved, you're free to do as you wish. 

Only unfulfilled ones - juevos azule, I think is the technical term --

OK, smart alec, what does juevos azule mean? Talk about running to the dictionary!!!!

Literally, blue eggs, but I think it is actually a testicular reference.

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