“Control” is generally considered a negative word. No-one wants to be controlled and when other people are controlling, it drives us nuts. But, what about controlling yourself? Can controlling yourself make you happy? To the human mind, less control seems to promote freedom, doesn’t it? Or does just the opposite occur?
Recently I started a diet that requires eating 500 calories a day. (You know the one…) And, as you might expect, it requires a considerable amount of discipline. After a few days of determined effort, I discovered something spectacular. I felt fantastic. 3.5 ounces of chicken, 4 ounces of spinach and I’m on cloud nine. The same guy that gorged himself on steak and rice, washed down with copious amounts of wine, is suddenly standing a little taller and feeling a lot better. So, I asked myself why? Why would such apparent deprivation lead to such elation?
As I thought more about my life I realized I was a slave to comfort. And, by the age of 54 I had pretty much mastered it. My comforts consisted of eating what I enjoyed most, sitting inordinate amounts of time, and drinking as much as my heart desired. And, all of those things made me feel great, at least as far as I could tell. But, my lack of control was taking a larger toll on me than I realized. Not just in terms of added weight and lethargy, but mentally in how I felt about myself. Then, the light shined in, “Humans were designed to control themselves…”
If you think about your life, you have certain habits or behaviors that you don’t like. We all do. But, have you ever considered the value of deciding to stop doing that “one” thing? Sure, it seems inconsequential in the grand scheme of life, but what you don’t control ends up controlling you. Just letting loose seems so natural, but it doesn’t really make you happy. Of course, I’m not advocating the pseudo-misery life where everything is bad and wrong and harmful. Instead I’m suggesting that you figure out those areas where you have lost control and get busy controlling them again. The Bible says everything in moderation, not don’t touch this or taste that. Denial for denial’s sake is seldom rewarding. But, insert a little control and notice what happens to you. I think deep down we all know what we should do, but actually doing it is a whole “nother” story.
So, take some time to think about your life. Consider those areas that drive you crazy. Contemplate that problem you have that has become so chronic that you accept it, and decide to simply stop it. I often think our greatest life suckers aren’t found in the big important things, but in the small stuff to which we seldom pay attention. What thing do you do everyday that you wish you didn’t do? What haunts you? What is plaguing you? That’s the thing. That is the chink in your armor. The adversary knows that the best way to beat your opponent is to get him to beat himself. Not controlling yourself makes you hurt yourself.
Honestly, I didn’t start a diet because I wanted to discipline myself. I started the diet because that belly in my bathroom mirror was driving me nucking futs! The belly that grew out of days without end in comfort was my motivation. Then, just three days in of exercising serious determination and finally telling myself “no,” something wonderful took place. The same will happen for you, believe me. Being able to tell yourself “no” at times is the essence of control. Say no to too much! Say no to just laying there! Say no to just one more! Say no to the endless stream of distractions directed at your noggin and get busy doing the stuff you really want to do! Imagine what you could accomplish if your mind wasn’t glazed over from excess booze and nachos. Imagine how much precious time you would find by getting serious and determined. Imagine…
Life is funny in that sometimes you learn the strangest lessons quite by mistake. Or maybe it isn’t a mistake… (;-) Pay attention to the signals and hints that run across your mind. Something glorious and wonderful wants you to find that elusive happiness you’ve been working so hard to get. And ironically, many times the lesson reveals the solution in the exact opposite manner than you formerly thought. Funny.
I’m excited to see a fit stomach in my mirror, but even more psyched about the new things I can learn and control in the process.
Just some good thoughts…