Today’s battle of feelings:
Lust: A passionate or overmastering desiring or craving.
Temperance: Moderation or self restraint in action
JUST GO FOR IT! LIVE IT UP! LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST!
One of the unintended side effects of the pop psychology, self help movement is the focus on feelings and being happy. Feelings are thought of as the “window to the soul.” (I always thought it was the eyes.) The trouble with feelings is that they change at a moment’s notice, affected by the likes of chili cheeseburgers, corny country songs and the presence of in-laws. We all have a right to be happy, that’s understood. But there is something to be said for values and experiencing all of life, including the pain and sorrow.
The trouble with the modern self help movement? Houses built on sand won’t stand. Feelings come and go. Feeling good, all the time, is unsustainable. The “universe” doesn’t send you messages or give you everything you ask for. You do not become what you think about (otherwise, men would be breasts). Speaking of becoming what you think about, let’s talk about lust. Lust isn’t just a sexual term, it can apply to power, relationships or a really cool guitar. Lust is the unhealthy version of feeling, it is obsession, usually centered around something you don’t (or can’t) have.
The trouble with lust? It takes you over, it colors every thought, every feeling. You spend more time thinking about what you want than what you have. You lack something and decide having the one thing you lack, a perfect golf swing, the rich husband, the red convertible, will make you whole. Obsession. although sometimes useful, is not healthy. Obsessing over something you want only reinforces that you don’t already had it.
Temperance gets a bad reputation because of all that Prohibition nonsense and, more importantly because it flies in the face of modern bumper sticker philosophy. It’s hard to “Go for it!” and “Live everyday to its fullest” if you are practicing moderation. In fact, I have been known to say, “moderation sucks.” In a sprint, you should go all out, but life is a marathon. You are allowed to rest, to plan and to occasionally pull back.
Feelings, after all, are controlled by self restraint. You have a choice to control your feelings instead of letting them control you. Life is about the choices we make and the overall body of work we leave behind. Feeling good all the time is not how most of us want to be remembered. Words like contributions, work, good deeds, honor, reputation, morals, manners and integrity count too.
Lust happens but you don’t have to let it own you. If you are stuck in the vicious cycle of obsession, get quiet, meditate. Watch your feelings go by like boats on a river, don’t participate in them, simply observe them. When you feel the pain body of obsession wash over you, let it go, try to look at it as an objective bystander (this may take more than one meditation session). Let your obsession go, release it. Examine the feelings that come along with letting go, are you controlling them or are they controlling you? You decide.
Once you learn to observe, to face your fears and release your obsession, your ego will be under control, you will be able to move on. Life gets better when you are not haunted, I know, I’ve been there.