Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Enjoying Enough

Wanting More: The Challenge of Enjoyment in the Age of Addiction
Here is where you can buy this book
I bought a book years ago.  It has been calling out to me, begging me to pick it up and read.  I read it years ago, loved it, loaned it out, put it back on the shelf and forgot about it.   I picked it up  yesterday.  It was just what I needed. A book we all should read.  Wanting More; the challenge of enjoyment in the Age of Addiction, by Mark Chamberlain

One of my biggest struggles with self esteem and food is the concept of "enough."  Am I good enough, bright enough, smart enough, athletic enough, skinny enough, accomplished enough?  Can I ever have enough cake, cookies, ICE CREAM (yeah I eat the whole carton myself sometimes), french cheese, or other delicious, divine food?

"One good-bye is never enough" (name that movie)

But "enough" is elusive, always evading me.  The first bite of ice cream is AMAZING, but the second never seems to as good; so I eat another and another and  another bite trying to recapture the enjoyment of that first moment.

Success is the same way for me.  I loose 5 lbs and I am proud of myself, but a nagging feeling returns saying more, more, more.  If some is good more is better.  I can run a marathon, why not an Ironman, or ultras or [fill in the blank]?

It is our "natural man"  appetite that craves and is never satiated; hungers and is every thirsty; desires and is never satisfied.   I just need a bigger house, to loose 10 more pounds, to eat one more cookie, to get this job promotion-- then I will be happy/satisfied/content.  But satisfied/content/happy never really happens.  We (I) still want more.  It is a trap that we (I) never really recognize in the moment. This longing for more can help us become better, more productive people, but it becomes a trap when we allow our appetite to control, lead and direct our lives.

Let's pause for an awesome quote segment:
The world lacks and hankers, and is enslaved to thirst.
-- Buddha

He who knows not when he has enough is poor.
-- Japaneese Proverb

Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.
-- Epicurus

Enough is as good as a feast.
-- Mary Poppins
 Mark Chamberlain describes the cycle of addiction.  We begin with normal sized appetites/desires/cravings.  When we indulge in said appetites/desires/cravings we get immediate gratification.  Immediate gratification leads to dissatisfation and subsequently larger appetites/desires/cravings, creating a downward spiral of needing more and more to feel satisfied/content/happy.  (Think alcohol/drug abuse but with food, money, and success.)

On the up side, Mr. Chamberlain says there is a way to thwart the cycle of addiction.  The key?  Working and waiting.  Working/Waiting lead to deprivation.  Deprevation leads to increased sensitivity.  Increased sensitivity helps us feel satisfied/content/happy with less, thereby making our appetites/desires/cravings shrink.  Over time, if we have not damaged our bodies to the point that they can not repair themselves, our appetites will return to "sub-standard" size.

I have seen this cycle in myself.  Living in France for a couple of months with only a bath and no shower deprived me of a seemingly normal luxury.  When I returned home, I thoroughly enjoyed the luxury of standing up to wash and having water cascade from overhead.  Now a bath is a luxury!

The key then is to increase our sensitiviy to our blessings.  Bring on the second awesome quote segment:

"Let us remain as empty as possible, so that God can fill us up."
-- Mother Theresa

"You're body is precious.  It is your vehicle for awakening.  Treat it with care."
-- Buddha

"I have learned to seek my happiness by limiting my desires, rather than in attempting to satisfy them."
-- John Stuart Mill
 Chamberlain noted a study where college students were given yogurt to eat with their favorite T.V. show and were asked to report their enjoyment factor.  One group had plain yogurt and the other group got to pick their favorite flavor to eat.  At the beginnning of the experiment the gruop with the flavored yogurt ranked their enjoyment higher than the plain yogurt group.  But as the days and weeks passed, the flavored yogurt group became less and less content.  On the other hand, as the plain yogurt group adapted to the experience they found more and more enjoyment and actually surpassed the enjoyment rating the flavored yogurt eaters had at the beginning of the experiment.

The lesson:  Eat plain yogurt?  Maybe...  How about giving less a try.  Less sugar in your oatmeal.  Fewer chocolate chips in that cookie.  Fewer nights eating out.  Wait longer before you indulge in that cheesecake.  Savor and enjoy one bite.  Then put it away.  (The hardest part for me.)

Plan ahead:  learn your triggers (stress, hunger, not eating enough healthy food, temptation).  We can do this.  It will be a battle.  We are fighting our own nature, but with God's grace we can LOVE LESS!

Today, Enjoy Enough!

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