Every year or so, I observe the so called tradition of Lent, popular in many Christian circles, and I can’t help but feel the utmost respect for the people that practice it. In the six weeks leading up to Easter, the faithful give up something luxurious or otherwise extremely attached to, and seek to survive without it. This can include something extremely trivial like Facebook to something that can be life-changing such as giving up meat, all contingent on how committed the person is to the idea.
I can respect this tradition because it solely exemplifies the well known trait of self-control. Sometimes, it’s best in a society to not indulge in something completely to the point where it can be damaging to your lifestyle. When I was a kid, I used to get a big bag of hot cheetos every week. Sometimes, due to the addictive chemicals within the bag of chips, I would keep and keep eating until all the bag was gone. The result? A stomach ache mixed with fiery constipation (TMI). Instead, if I had ate the bag of chips evenly throughout the week, I wouldn’t be feeling the negative repercussions nearly as much. As trivial as a bag of Hot Cheetos sounds, I have tried my best to resist the temptations, and instead indulge in the life principle of maintaining self-control.
My moral compass looked upon alcohol as an inherent evil, and I was able to successfully “resist” its consumption my entire freshman year of college. This was a difficult feat though, due to the constant amount of peer pressure and necessity to fit in required of me during this time period…. And yet, I broke my temperance in my first ever consumption of alcohol in the summer of 2009, in an effort to unsuccessfully deal with the negative repercussions of a lonely summer hallmarked by the deepest possible rejection. And yet, that decision to consume alcohol was largely my own, and nobody else’s. When making a decision to indulge in something, it’s important to be aware of the potential side effects that can ultimately bring. For 3 months from August 2009 to October 2009, I drank to the point where my depression was inherently obvious during my drunken stages. From yelling at people, ripping down pictures, and being an emotional trainwreck, I controlled my indulges and rejected using alcohol as a mechanism to overcome depression. And I swore from that point on I would not abuse alcohol to try to achieve happiness (although granted I broke that yet again Winter Quarter 2012).
The point remains though that in order to systematically become a better person, not only on the surface, but internally the recognition that an overdose of ANYTHING is a bad thing. This could be through over consumption of television, alcohol, soda, fast food, or anything that might seem like a good thing. Overworking is bad, getting attached too often is bad, and overdoing things for people is bad. If one truly can maintain a sense of self-control I personally believe they have the ability to achieve happiness in the right way: living ultimately a life in balance.