Good morning, you gorgeous creature! How was your bank holiday weekend?
Today I’d like to have a chat about temptation and what it means to each of us. To a married person it might mean avoiding the temptation to flirt with an attractive stranger; to a student it could be staying home to revise on a Saturday night. To a lot of Londoners it’s deciding not to push tourists down the escalators, and for pretty much everyone it’s not kicking your television in when Simon Cowell makes an appearance on it.
Being tempted in any sense is a bit of an ordeal, because it combines two juxtaposing things: the opportunity to have something that we want, and the anticipation of impending doom. It’s lovely to imagine obtaining something that would make us happy, but the key is to remember that that happiness would only be fleeting. The person on a strict diet is only happy for as long as takes to consume a doughnut, and the recovering alcoholic who falls off the wagon will only have their hangover as a souvenir of the fun times. Greatness comes before a fall, look before you leap and bad things come to those who just can’t wait.
The key to successfully defeating temptation is, bizarrely, not to avoid it. Repeatedly facing temptation makes us better at seeing it for what it is: a very temporary sensation that would have catastrophic effects in the long run. Not many people have the clear-sightedness to see past the moment of temptation, but the more times we come up against these moments, the better we become at looking beyond them. George Bernard Shaw said, “virtue is insufficient temptation”, but I think virtue is actually temptation that got bored and was eventually forced to leave us alone. We won’t become people we are proud of by avoiding the things that could ruin us: we become those people by standing up to our demons and saying “bog off, demons. I’ve got better things to do.”
Speaking of which, have a glorious Tuesday. I hope you tick lots of things off your to do list.
Good morning, lovely reader. How is your weekend going so far?
As those of you who have read this post about me bullying a pepper pot will already know, I recently made a sweeping declaration about a particular aspect of my life, i.e. that if something hadn’t changed by a certain point in time, I would have to radically change my behaviour. Without delving too far into the hows and the whys and the “do you mind if I don’t?”s (sorry – I can’t resist the opportunity to include a Blackadder reference), I will tell you that the deadline for something to change is today. I now realise that I was being ludicrously optimistic about that time frame. Radically changed behaviour, here I come.
When my house mate gave up smoking, she went completely cold turkey straight away. I have rarely seen such impressive will power, especially given that she went to a snazzy industry party in Soho three nights later and could very easily have reneged on her decision. She was out in central London with a lot of booze, a lot of smokers and some very famous actors, but she didn’t give in. Amazing, isn’t it? I know. She’s a legend.
It is examples of self-control like that one which make me determined not to go back on my deadline thing. It’s going to be painful and difficult. I will probably change my mind about it in the next few days, hours or even minutes. I feel incredibly sorry for my friends, who are going to have to put up with a lot from me for the next few weeks, but it has to be done. This may have started with a sweeping declaration and an unfortunate condiment container, but I think we all know that when we try to make big decisions about our lives it’s because we recognise that something is wrong, and our job as human beings with a sense of self-preservation is to get the heck out.
Who knows what we are missing by pursuing things that are bad for us? What kind of amazing stuff is happening that we don’t even know about because we’re too busy being addicted to a harmful substance, malingering in a dead end job or chasing after someone who doesn’t love us? I can tell you for certain that you are a fascinating person with a lot to offer, and I hate to think of you wasting your time on something that is hurting you or holding you back. Make the decision to stop what you’re doing, and then stick to your guns. I cannot stress enough how utterly and completely metaphorical these guns should be (unless you’ve got water pistols, which are just cool).
Have the kind of Sunday that will make for a great anecdote tomorrow.