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The Tao of Habits: Finding Freedom Between the Extremes

Swinging Between The Extremes

I’ve always had a thing for sweets.

Not just any will do: my weakness is for treats that are a perfect combination of fat and sugar. Fudge for instance. I can eat my body weight in fudge, and still go back for ‘just one more piece’.

For the most part, I’ve been able to control my sweet tooth, and generally maintain a well-balanced, healthy diet. But there have been times in my life – episodes, let’s call them – when I overindulged.

Ok, maybe more like binged.

At times like these, the idea of giving up sweets seemed about as reasonable as severing a limb. But as with most bad habits, the euphoria in the moment was always quickly surpassed by the absolute misery that followed. During a sugar phase, I’d struggle with mood swings, irritability, weight gain, digestive discomfort, lethargy and brain fog. And of course guilt. Not fun.

Eventually, I’d hit a breaking point, and decide I needed to clean up my act. Sugar would abruptly become the evil villain in my life, and I’d purge it with the ruthlessness and fervor of a 17th century witch hunt.

Then would follow the intense cravings, the two-week sugar crash, and the constant battle to avoid situations and places where sugar might be lurking to sabotage my puritanical efforts. After some length of time of being rigidly vigilant about my sugar intake, I’d unsurprisingly fall off the wagon, and start the whole cycle over again.

Rinse and repeat. 

Finding the Middle Ground

It took me many long years to finally figure out that finding an acceptable middle ground in the management of my sugar intake was a lot less work than swinging wildly between the extremes.

These days, my diet is 90% healthy, with a 10% sprinkling of things I once viewed as ‘bad for you’, including my old nemesis, sugar. I don’t eat sweets and fudge until my teeth hurt anymore, but I do allow myself the occasional indulgence of a bite of something decadent for dessert. I have a teaspoon of raw sugar in my morning coffee, but I don’t follow it with a cherry cream cheese danish for breakfast.

Most importantly, I don’t allow guilt to tag along when I opt to partake, instead choosing to enjoy my mini-indulgences with complete freedom. I no longer view sugar as the sole source of happiness in my life, but neither do I see it something inherently evil.

This change in my attitude and behaviors around sugar and diet in general have allowed me to focus on far more important and meaningful aspects of my life. I have more energy, both mental and physical, to put towards my work, hobbies and relationships. What was once a stressful and damaging habit has become a simple pleasure that I can enjoy on occasion. 

I’ve found The Tao of sweets. 

Since coming to this realization, I’ve applied the concept of The Tao to many other habits and areas of my life. Cleaning the house for instance – I no longer worry about our home being spotless when guests stop by, nor do I let it slide into a state of total anarchy, both of which require far more energy to maintain than simply keeping things generally tidy and organized. Same goes for finding a work/life balance, seeing friends and family, and exercising.

The middle ground – that reasonable, maintainable, sane balance – is far less stressful, exhausting and consuming, and far more pleasant, than swinging between the extremes.

There is freedom (and fudge) in The Tao. 

 

The Tao of Habits: Finding Freedom Between the Extremes


Mike Bundrant

Mike Bundrant is the author of Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage and co-founder at The iNLP Center which offers online certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and life coaching.


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APA Reference
Bundrant, M. (2019). The Tao of Habits: Finding Freedom Between the Extremes. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 8, 2019, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/nlp/2019/03/the-tao-of-habits-finding-freedom-between-the-extremes/

 

Last updated: 1 Mar 2019
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