Are you interested in knowing why we find it difficult to be moderate?
When we eat, exercise, work, get praised, challenge ourselves, or do something that benefits someone else, we are achieving goals that trigger positive feelings. When we achieve what we want in life, we feel happy. Therefore a goal of creating balance in life needs to be something that we want to achieve in order for it to be happiness evoking.
Striving for your healthy desires, without needing them is key to achieving a balance.
We all like to be in state of comfort as opposed to discomfort. This can be tricky because achieving the goal of a balanced and healthy life requires you to do the work in the here and now in order to succeed later. Naturally, this means that working and putting in effort is essential. You may feel uncomfortable at first.
If you focus only on achieving future goals, constantly working and putting in lots of effort, you will not feel happy in the here and now. This usually triggers stress. A philosophy of balance is necessary so that you can experience happiness and enjoyment in the short term while you are working towards long term goals.
It is easy to understand why you want to be in state of comfort, enjoyment, happiness as opposed to discomfort. Comfort feels good. Excitement feels good. Alcohol, for most people feels good, food tastes good, exercise releases endorphins and that feels good and so on.
You grow up knowing that there are certain things you can do or have others do for you that provoke feelings of comfort and happiness. If as a child you feel uncomfortable or fearful, your parents will look after you or remove the object of fear. You grow up learning that if you avoid something that triggers you to feel fear, your feelings of fear will disappear quickly.
This can also be a source of problems for adults. Emotional maturity will not be accomplished if the adult continues to engage in the same strategies of either avoiding things that trigger feelings of discomfort or having a desire to indulge in excess because you need to continue feeling happiness, positivity, joy etc.
Two main reasons why people indulge in excess
1) A strong need for immediate gratification and hedonism e.g. need for enjoyment now, oblivion, joy, happiness, relaxation
2) Low frustration tolerance to discomfort e.g. boredom, effort, negative feelings
Some might see moderation as being middle aged and dull. This assumption is called ‘rationalisation’. This means the person is justifying the behaviour so they can continue it. The real reason is the need for immediate gratification and hedonism.
“The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom” William Blake
Avoidance of discomfort is a major coping unhealthy strategy for many people. For example, someone may eat too much because it distracts them from a feeling of anxiety about being alone. Others may play on their Xbox or surf the net because to avoid the discomfort of filling an application form or organising bills.
Unhealthy beliefs stop you from moving forward and creating the balance in life you desire. They provoke feelings like anxiety, depression, guilt, hurt, rage, shame etc. They also provoke unhealthy behaviours like excess and difficulty in moderating gratification. They can also trigger unhealthy behaviours as a means of coping with other problems i.e. they trigger dysfunctional behaviours like excess as a way of avoiding emotions or focusing on problems.
Unhealthy beliefs are unrealistic, rigid or inflexible and sabotage goals.