According to Plato, a person who has the virtue of moderation subordinates the desire for pleasure to the dictates of reason.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”It shows a weak mind not to bear prosperity as well as adversity with moderation.” author=”Cicero”/]
Have you been in a relationship that started out with amazing passion? You got butterflies every time you saw the person and wanted to be with them every moment of every day. The connection was electric, but after a few month things started to fizzle. You began to get bored and restless. The fire faded to a spark. Or have you ever moved to a new and breathtakingly beautiful place? The first few months you lived there you were awed each day by the scenery. Just going out to get the mail was an opportunity to gaze with wonder into the distance. But as the years go by those once breathtaking surroundings become just the ordinary background of your day to day life.
Remember the last time you bought a CD that you were completely blown away by? You listened to the songs over and over again; they stirred something inside you. But after a few months you could listen without really even noticing it was on. And eventually you got a bit tired of it and put a new CD in rotation.
What is the common thread in all of these situations? They all show the way in which our brains quickly become accustomed to stimulation. While at first our senses are acutely tuned in to the input they are receiving, they fast become acclimated to the stimuli. The stimuli lose the ability to wow us and give us pleasure. We become numb to it. At this point most people reach for something new to experience those fresh feelings anew.
This is certainly the answer society gives us for our restlessness, our boredom, our anxiousness, and unhappiness. The answer is always MORE….More stimulation. More computer games, more movies, more music, more Face Book, more texting, more steroids, more pot, more prescription drugs, more drinking, more sex, more money, more freedom, more food. More of anything is sold as the cure for everything. Yet paradoxically, the more stimulation we receive, the less joy and enjoyment we get out of it. The key to experiencing greater fulfillment and pleasure is actually moderation.
Moderation doesn’t seem to get a lot of play these days. Everything is presented in extremes. We have extreme sports, extreme deodorants, extreme energy drinks, etc. etc.. We seek extremes because we erroneously believe that the more intense an experience is, the more pleasurable it will be. As we increase our stimulation, our appetite consequently rises to meet it. We then need even more stimulation to achieve the same pleasure the old level of stimulation gave us. Yet the ratcheting up of stimulation will eventually reach the point of diminishing returns. As you seek higher and higher levels of stimulation, you eventually damage the delicate mechanisms your body and mind have for receiving and enjoying pleasure. We can overload our pleasure circuits, and become numb to future enjoyments.
For Aristotle, all virtues are to be understood as the mean (moderation) between vicious extremes.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”The choicest pleasures of life lie within the ring of moderation.” author=”Martin Tupper”/]
TEENS AND MODERATION OF TECHNOLOGY
By Rachel Simmons
What’s the impact of technology on teens socially?
You can’t talk about teens, and raising teens, without talking about social media. And because it is essential to teens, parents must participate. Some parents feel so overwhelmed and confused by the onslaught of gadgetry that they want to log out. They can’t. Just because something is electronic doesn’t give parents a pass not to engage. There is seamless integration between their online lives and their real lives. They constantly move between those worlds in a way that adults will never understand. Social media is the biggest and most important change in the lives of today’s adolescents.
Should parents be concerned that teens seem to be constantly connected?
The average pre-teen or teen is not capable of moderating their use of technology. They are addicts. Girls are addicts because they are relationship addicts and social media enables relationships. Kids desperately need parents to set limits on use. Technology is a place where you can’t be your child’s friend. I always say to parents, “If your kid likes your technology policy, you’re probably doing something wrong.” Your kid should be a little annoyed at you for your technology limits, and if she’s not, I guarantee she’s probably on it too much or she is one of those rare kids who does not want to be. Parents need to understand that, despite their love for social media, these technologies often end up making kids feel more insecure in the world.
How does social media make teens feel insecure?
Social media publicizes friendship in a way that enables comparison and competition. Now teens can look at how many friends someone else has and wonder, “Why don’t I have that many friends?” Teens can look at the number of happy birthday messages a friend received and wonder, “Why didn’t I get that many?” Teens can see friends receiving texts from someone and wonder, “Why didn’t I get a text from her.” So the public nature of friendship can make teens feel both more connected and intensely anxious and insecure. Parents need to understand that the compelling drive to stay connected produces good and bad results. The opinions of others and fear of exclusion can drive teens to be continually connected to their friends.
Can social media magnify a teen’s anxieties about her peer relationships?
Yes. Social media magnifies and enflames existing feelings and struggles, thereby causing social drama to spin out of control. For this reason, I encourage parents to say, “No.”
As a parent, it’s hard to know what to allow and when to allow it.
Parents need to evaluate and define their family values: How important is respect? How important is moderation and balance? How important is good citizenship and etiquette? Then, parents can apply these family values to the use of technology. If a family prioritizes balance and moderation, then nobody gets carte blanche access to anything, including technology. Parents should treat technology the same way they set boundaries for everything else.
What signs indicate a problem?
Parents should intervene when their teens are unable to put the technology away or when it becomes a source of drama. Girls may spend excessive time on their computer when they are anxious or upset. Some teens can’t separate from the phone or computer. On the first day of my girls’ summer camp, each camper must hand me her phone. After their initial hysteria and a brief digital detox, they are actually quite happy because the phone can be a burden.
Has the social hierarchy changed at all because of technology?
Social media levels the playing field by allowing anybody to say anything and be heard. If teens share some dirt, they can be heard in a way that might not happen in real life. That’s one reason why websites, like Face Book, can be really popular because anybody can say anything, and it doesn’t really matter who you are. For good and bad, everybody has a voice.
What is the upside to everyone having a voice online?
Kids can use social media to explore and connect with other people in a way that they can’t do in real life. Many teens, and not just ones with social challenges, have relationships with peers that don’t go beyond texting. There are now new permutations of relationships: people I text with, but don’t talk to, people I am friends with on Facebook, but don’t know personally, people I am friends with on Facebook, but don’t say hello to in the school hallway. One eighth-grader referred to this hierarchy as her “food chain of relationships.”
Does the ease of online communication inhibit social growth?
Many teens’ social skills are likely being limited by their overuse of technology. I see teens whose social skills are very different because they lean on technology, particularly when it comes to interacting with adults. Kids email their teachers and coaches to say that they can’t come to practice or to ask the coach for more playing time. The online communication replaces the awkward and difficult personal interaction that gives kids the vital practice they need to develop effective communication skills.
Are parents modeling bad behavior?
Adults do things with technology that they would never do in real life. Adults who constantly check their phones send an unhealthy message to their teens about addiction and the inability to be present. How can parents expect teens to moderate themselves when parents can’t? Parents who are constantly online and texting, are coaching their teens to act the same way. We put so much pressure on kids and let ourselves off the hook.
How are boys different than girls when it comes to technology?
The virtual world is similar to the playground. On the playground and online, most boys are playing games and most girls are talking. Girls are more likely to carry their phones on them at all times. They send 50 more texts a day on average than boys. They gossip more online. They are more likely to be cyber-bullied and have gossip spread about them online. Girls focus more on relationships in real life and online. Again, the Internet isn’t that different than real life.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”A thing moderately good is not so good as it ought to be. Moderation in temper is always a virtue, but moderation in principle is always a vice.” author=”Thomas Paine”/]
MODERATION AS A PRINCIPLE OF LIFE
In ancient Greece, the temple of Apollo at Delphi bore the inscription Meden Agan – ‘Nothing in excess’. Doing something “in moderation” means not doing it excessively. For instance, someone who moderates their food consumption tries to eat all food groups, but limits their intake of those that may cause deleterious effects to harmless levels.
Similarly in Christianity, moderation is the position that drinking alcoholic beverages temperately is permissible, though drunkenness is forbidden (see Christianity and alcohol).
Moderation is a characteristic of the Swedish national psyche, more specifically described by the Swedish synonym Lagom.
Islam also considers moderation as a preferred way of life, even when applying religious norms. Moderate Muslims adhere to the concept of contextual relativism as a way to grasp meaning from the Quran. They also understand the Quran as a whole opposed to a discrete understanding. Furthermore, Moderate Muslims also follow various types of Hadith (prophet Mohammed’s sayings) that favor moderation and view Muhammad as an ideal example of a moderate Muslim and Human.
Moderation is considered a key part of ones personal development in Taoist philosophy and religion and is one of the three jewels of Taoist thought. There is nothing that cannot be moderated including ones actions, ones desires and even thoughts. It is believed that by doing so one achieves a more natural state, faces less resistance in life and recognizes their limits.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”Never go to excess, but let moderation be your guide.” author=”Cicero”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Looks are part of business. A businessman should never stand out more than his customers. His mannerisms, his clothes, everything about him… Moderation is the key.” author=”Takayuki Ikkaku”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Moderation in all things.” author=”Terence”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Only actions give life strength; only moderation gives it a charm.” author=”Jean Paul Richter”/]
How Moderation Can Increase Our Pleasure?
When we feel unhappy and bored there are two ways to revive our feelings of enjoyment and pleasure. One is to seek new things and more stimulation. You can start going out more, drinking more, and buying more new things and experiences. But the pleasure you get from ratcheting up the intensity of these experiences will eventually end in a plateau. The alternative is to cultivate the virtue of moderation by seeking greater enjoyment and pleasure in things you are already doing now.
Reconnect with Your Senses. We live in a society saturated by stimulation. We have become numbed to nuance. You don’t need new stimulation, you need to rediscover the hidden layers of ordinary experiences. Stop wolfing down your food. Start tasting the unique flavors and textures of each mouthful. Instead of doing a keg stand and chugging cheap beer, learn to savor and appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into a quality brew. Start allowing yourself to feel some awe when you look at the night sky. We’re usually walking through life like zombies because we are so over stimulated. Wake up and start delving into the wonder of the world.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”Temperance is moderation in the things that are good and total abstinence from the things that are foul.” author=”Frances E. Willard”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Where there are love and generosity, there is joy. Where there are sincerity and sacrifice, there is friendship. Where there are harmony and simplicity, there is beauty. Where there are prayer and forgiveness, there is peace. Where there are moderation and patience, there is wisdom. Where there are conflicts and crises, there is opportunity. Where there are wonder and adventure, there is growth. Where there are adoration and confession, there is worship. Where there are compassion and concern, there is good. Where there are faith and hope, there is spring.” author=”Larry Reed”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.” author=”Patrick Henry”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”A lawsuit, however just, can never be rightly prosecuted by any man, unless he treats his adversary with the same love and good will as if the business under controversy were already amicably settled and composed. Perhaps someone will interpose here that such moderation is so uniformly absent from any lawsuit that it would be a miracle if any such were found. Indeed, I admit that, as the customs of these times go, an example of an upright litigant is rare; but the thing itself, when not corrupted by the addition of anything evil, does not cease to be good and pure.” author=”John Calvin”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Be moderate in order to taste the joys of life in abundance.” author=”Epicurus”/]
Take a Fast from Stimulation: Too much stimulation overloads our sensory circuits. It is thus essential to unplug and get away. The best thing to do is to periodically get out into the outdoors. Leave your phone and computer behind. If you don’t have the opportunity to do this, at least try a phone and/or internet “fast.” Pick one day a week where you don’t check either.
Delay your Gratification: The more you hold out for something, the greater the pleasure you’ll experience when you finally attain it. If you eat ice cream everyday, it’s not going to taste as good as it would if you ate it only once a month. The more you hold out for that new car, the more pleasure you will feel when you finally get it. Have you ever noticed that the anticipation of a holiday can be just as good and sometimes better than the actual holiday itself? Hold out for things and enjoy the exquisite pleasure of anticipation.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”The choicest pleasures of life lie within the ring of moderation.” author=”Martin Tupper”/]
Aristotle, Moderation, and the Government
Aristotle wisely advised moderation in all things. Gluttons, fanatics, and the weak willed self-destruct by refusing to make the tradeoffs necessary to lead a good life. “Don’t tell me that I can’t drink and carouse every night and not succeed in school or my career!” insists the idiot. “I can have it all.”
Well, you can’t. No one can. That’s the thing about tradeoffs. They’re unavoidable. If you don’t make your own tradeoffs, they will be made for you by nature, by chance, or by other people. And it’s a sure bet that when you abdicate your ability to choose how your tradeoffs are made, the ways that nature, chance, or other people make them for you will displease you. You start screaming that you are a victim in all this!
Grow up! Aristotle’s counsel of moderation is no puritanical call for an austere life unadorned by intense sentiments, pleasures, and passions. Rather, he counsels personal responsibility and rationality in pursuing your sentiments, pleasures, and passions. You simply cannot enjoy limitless amounts of all the possible joys available in life. If you grasp unthinkingly at every pleasurable opportunity that passes your way, you will not be making choices. You will be reacting mindlessly. And your mindless pursuit of immediate pleasures will deny you access to other opportunities. You will enjoy fewer pleasures and much less happiness over the long haul than you would have enjoyed had you acted rationally. You let emotions make choices for you that reason should have made.
Make whatever choices you wish, constrained only by your respect for the rights of others to make whatever choices they wish. But make your choices. Make them rationally and wisely. Your choices may differ substantially from mine. But as long as you choose your own tradeoffs rationally—without abdicating that responsibility to others or to fate or victimhood —your prospects for living a virtuous life are pretty good.
The Aristotelian counsel of moderation is, thus, a plea to weigh tradeoffs mindfully. It has an important implication for government institutions whose sole purpose is to help us, which is this: true moderation (and its resulting happiness) is necessarily an individual pursuit and accomplishment. It cannot be achieved by a third party, whether that third party is a democratic majority or a dictator. The reason is that, in each instance, striking the right tradeoff requires assessing the relative merits of many different options in light of each person’s unique circumstances, opportunities, and aspirations.
Because you cannot know my preferences, hopes, history, and opportunities, and because I cannot know yours, neither of us is well equipped to make sound decisions for the other. When I to attempt, even with excellent intentions, to make your choices for you, the result might not be moderation for you. The result would be immoderation. My inability to know your aspirations and circumstances inevitably would cause me to foist on you too much of some things and to deny you too much of others. Your life would be imbalanced.
Indeed, to the extent that you as an individual are stripped of your right to choose, you are stripped of humanity. Whether you believe that your capacity for rational thought is God-given or the exclusive product of natural selection, the fact is that you possess this capacity. Your capacity to think and to choose is who you are. Exercising it is what makes you an individual. The very concept of individuality is empty absent each person’s right to make his own life’s choices.
So make your choices, make them wisely and moderately and then live with them.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”moderation is the inseparable companion of wisdom, but with it genius has not even a nodding acquaintance.” author=”Charles Caleb”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”A wise man is superior to any insults which can be put upon him, and the best reply to unseemly behavior is patience and moderation.” author=”Moliere”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Exactness and neatness in moderation is a virtue, but carried to extremes narrows the mind.” author=”Francois de Salignac Fenelon”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Be a pattern to others, and then all will go well; for as a whole city is affected by the licentious passions and vices of great men, so it is likewise reformed by their moderation.” author=”Thomas Carlyle”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”The man who mortifies his body for his soul’s sake has at least his motive to plead for him. But the sensualist has no such justification. He deliberately chooses the evil and rejects the good. Forfeiting his character as a son of good, he yields himself a slave to unworthy passions. It is the same with the worldly man, who lives only for sordid ends, such as wealth and the pleasures it buys. He, too, utterly misses his vocation. His pursuit of riches may be moral in itself; he may be a perfectly honest man. But his life is unmoral all the same, for it aims at nothing higher than itself.” author=”Morris Joseph”/]
Moderation and Spiritual Progress: Moderation is necessary for any spiritual progress. Unruly thoughts, attractions of the senses, lustful desires, anger, covetousness, and avarice constantly arise in the mind of the person who has no mental discipline; and these impel him to do evil deeds. If a person cannot direct his thoughts, desires, and actions according to his own will, how can he possibly direct his soul to virtue and keep his life on the path of truth? Unless the higher mind is strengthened and given the will power to master the impulses of the flesh mind, there will be little room for virtue to dwell with that mind. Thus, central to the virtuous life is moderation.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”Irrigators lead the waters. Iron smiths bend the shafts. Carpenters bend wood. The virtuous control themselves.” author=”Buddhism”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Though one should conquer a million men on the battlefield, yet he, indeed, is the noblest victor who has conquered himself.” author=”Buddhism”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” author=”Judaism and Christianity”/]
MODERATION IN ALL THINGS
The phrase, “Moderation in all things,” is common extrapolation of Aristotle’s Doctrine of the Mean (as presented in his Nicomachean Ethics). His ethic works around finding the mean, or middle ground, between excess and deficiency. An example of this would be his presentation of courage being the happy medium between the extreme of rash action and the deficiency of cowardice, in respect to a person’s possible action in the face of danger.
It should be noted that Aristotle’s ethic is often misunderstood by its summary: moderation in all things. It is frequently reasoned by those unfamiliar with context that the common phrase means that a person should approach all things (whether healthy or unhealthy) with moderation; therefore, reasoning that a moderate amount of a bad thing can be indulged is not uncommon to find. This is an inaccurate representation of the perspective summarized in the popular phrase.
But what about Scripture? Though there is no direct quotation matching the proverb, Paul does use a similar idea in his description of the successful athlete:[do action=”vfquote” quote=”And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown” author=”1 Corinthians 9:25″/]
While Paul could be making reference to an Aristotelian sort of ethic of moderation here, it is more likely that the phrase translated here as “temperate in all things” should be better rendered as “wholly self-controlled” or “entirely self-disciplined.” Several alternative translations favor this reading of the text. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon notes that Paul is presenting the figure of an athlete who trains himself, taking charge of his body, abstaining from “unwholesome foods, wine, and sexual indulgence” that he might perform at the peak of his potential prowess.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”Who is strong? He who controls his passions.” author=”Judaism.”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”He who knows others is wise; He who knows himself is enlightened. He who conquers others has physical strength; He who conquers himself is strong.” author=”Taoism”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding for moderation, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not keep with you.” author=”Judaism and Christianity”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Know that the Self is the rider, and the body the chariot; that the intellect is the charioteer, and the mind the reins. The senses, say the wise, are the horses; the roads they travel are the mazes of desire…. When a man lacks discrimination and his mind is uncontrolled, his senses are unmanageable, like the restive horses of a charioteer. But when a man has discrimination and his mind is controlled, his senses, like the well-broken horses of a charioteer, lightly obey the rein.” author=”Hinduism”/]
Moderation in Medicine: The virtue of moderation is not highly acclaimed in modern society; nor, indeed, in modern medicine. However, moderation is still called for, and not only in relation to the pursuit of pleasure; moderation is also needed in the pursuit of perfection. Over the last decades there has been a formidable growth in the dimensions and ambitions of the health services. Limited resources may bring this growth to a halt; there are, however, also other reasons for moderation. In preventive healthcare, outreach activities such as genetic testing may have considerable adverse effects. Interventionist approaches to the management of patients, be it in the use of antibiotics or the granting of social benefits, may have unfortunate consequences. The concept of sustainable health services calls for an adequate level of healthcare, not for the pursuit of perfection at any price. There is a right balance between ideals and what can actually be attained; finding it requires an understanding of the fallibility of medicine and of the limits to even the accomplishments of modern medicine.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”Whatever you do, do it in moderation ” author=”Proverb”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”To go beyond the bounds of moderation is to outrage humanity.” author=”Blaise Pascal”/]
Moderation in American Society
Moderation is a difficult virtue for many people to practice, so it should come as no surprise that it’s also difficult for many to write about. The Delphic maxim “nothing in excess” is an excellent example of a concise definition of this concept.
The virtue of moderation is what allows one to go shopping in the most tempting store and purchase a small treat instead of spending all that’s in your wallet. It allows you to take a bowl of ice cream from the carton, not the entire carton itself, or have a glass of wine without downing the entire bottle. This is not to say that indulgence is always a bad thing- who hasn’t heard the saying “everything in moderation- including moderation”? However, a lack of control over one’s impulses and desires can be troublesome- or far more dangerous. It’s nearly impossible to turn to the media anymore without seeing news of some celebrity going into drug rehab, or advertisements for various means of help for those with any number of addictions. For those with addictions, moderation is extremely difficult or downright impossible.
In our contemporary culture in the US, advertisers and the media frequently seem to scream “More! Bigger! Faster! Extreme!” and we push ourselves to the limit in many ways- credit card debt and bankruptcy filings are out of control. Workaholics barely know their families. Cars and trucks are bigger, faster, louder. Many celebrities lead very public lives of hedonism and extreme indulgence.
We may consider a classic tale of indulgence- the tale of King Midas and his golden touch. When King Midas was granted his wish that everything he touched turned to gold, he got it…and everything he touched did turn to solid gold- including his own daughter.
King Midas’s tale and others particular to today’s society, such as the drug overdose of actor River Phoenix and the suicide of singer Kurt Cobain clearly illustrate that just because you seem to be getting everything you want does not necessarily mean that that is what’s right or what’s good and if you’re not careful, you may lose everything. These stories may be a bit more extreme than what most people face, but it is somewhat appropriate that they are a bit “larger than life” and therefore may be a wake up call or a lesson to some people that it’s not a good thing to- as the bumper sticker goes- “Live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse.”[do action=”vfquote” quote=”The decent moderation of today will be the least of human things tomorrow. At the time of the Spanish Inquisition, the opinion of good sense and of the good medium was certainly that people ought not to burn too large a number of heretics; extreme and unreasonable opinion obviously demanded that they should burn none at all.” author=”Maurice Maeterlinck”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Moderation is the secret of survival.” author=”Manly Hall”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Where there are love and generosity, there is joy. Where there are sincerity and sacrifice, there is friendship. Where there are harmony and simplicity, there is beauty. Where there are prayer and forgiveness, there is peace. Where there are moderation and patience, there is wisdom. Where there are conflicts and crises, there is opportunity. Where there are wonder and adventure, there is growth. Where there are adoration and confession, there is worship. Where there are compassion and concern, there is God. Where there are faith and hope, there is spring.” author=”Larry Reed”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Only actions give life strength; only moderation gives it charm. ” author=”Jean Paul Richter”/]
Moderation and Dieting
What comes to mind for you when you hear the word diet? If you’re like most people, you probably imagine eating carrot sticks, going to bed hungry, and giving up your favorite foods—and that’s why so many diets fail. Most people just can’t tolerate those kinds of restrictions for very long. The more you try to eliminate your favorite foods, the more feelings of discomfort, deprivation and resentment build up. This can result in bingeing on all the foods you’ve been denying yourself, undoing all your hard work in a single day. But even if you can avoid that problem, are you willing to eat like a rabbit for the rest of your life?
Studies show that 95 percent of people who follow a highly restrictive diet to lose weight will put the weight back on when they return to “normal” eating again. So what’s the alternative? How do you manage to lose weight without eliminating the problem foods and problem behaviors that made you overweight to begin with?
The alternative is moderation—in your eating and, perhaps most importantly, in your thinking.
What is Moderation?
On the surface, moderation simply means avoiding extremes. It involves finding strategies and habits that can be maintained over the long-term, without cycling between one extreme and the other.
At a deeper level, moderation is a commitment to balance and wholeness. It is rooted in the recognition that each person has many different (and often competing) needs, desires, abilities, and goals. Living up to your full potential means finding ways to incorporate all of them into your decision-making processes and choices.
Practicing moderation in your weight loss program begins with practical strategies, such as counting calories, measuring portions, learning about your nutritional needs, and planning healthy meals. Achieving a reasonable rate of weight loss (about 1-2 pounds per week) by combining a tolerable calorie restriction with exercise is the moderate way to go. Fad diets, eliminating food groups, severely cutting calories and using diet pills are just as extreme as completely denying yourself foods that you enjoy.
The idea is to follow a healthy, balanced, and enjoyable nutrition and fitness plan that you can stick with—for life. There’s no “ending the diet” or going back to “normal” eating or anything that will cause you to regain the weight you’ve lost. When you reach your goal weight, all you need to do is gradually increase your caloric intake to a level where you can maintain your weight loss.
Sounds simple, right?
Like many things, it’s not quite as easy as it sounds. Chances are…you want results quickly. And you probably know that your current routine is problematic in one or more ways—too much fast food, sugar, or fat and not enough physical activity. Your natural inclination is going to be making big, sweeping changes to your diet and activity level right away.
In short, everything in you is clamoring for a very anti-moderate approach. You’re primed to play the extreme diet game, even though your odds of winning are less than five percent.
Moderate Your Thinking
To rescue yourself from your own impatience (and the clutches of the diet industry that feeds on it), you need to moderate your thinking. Here are two core concepts that will help you do that:
Concept #1: Food is not the enemy. There are no “good” or “bad” foods. True, some foods offer you a better nutritional deal than others. Refined sugar, for example, provides calories for energy but no other nutrients, while fruit is sweet but also provides vitamins and fiber in a low-calorie package. But refined sugar isn’t evil or bad—it can have a place in a healthy diet. It’s important to know what you need nutritionally and where you can find it, so you can take charge of balancing your needs for pleasure, nutrition, and fuel.
The Payoff: When you stop labeling foods as good or bad, diet or non-diet, you won’t feel guilty when you eat a food that isn’t on your “approved” list. Instead you’ll have more energy to learn about nutrition and improve your ability to make informed choices. And you won’t have to give up your favorite treats if you find ways to work them into your meal plans so they don’t interfere with your health goals. Without the guilt and deprivation, you’ll be able to break the pattern of cravings, emotional swings, and binges that defeats so many diets. Without all those “diet” rules to follow, you’ll learn to trust your own instincts and make good judgments.
Concept #2: Progress—not perfection—is important. To be successful, you don’t have to always make perfect decisions and have perfect days where things go exactly as you planned. If you eat more or exercise less than you wanted to one day, you can make up for it over the next several days if you want, or you can just chalk it up to experience and move on. Remind yourself that what happens on any one day is not going to make or break your whole effort. This is not a contest or a race, where every little misstep could mean the difference between winning and losing. It’s your life—and you’ll enjoy it a lot more when you can keep the daily ups and downs of your eating and exercise routine in perspective.
The Payoff: By refusing to be a perfectionist, you can take most of the stress out of weight loss. You’ll see small problems as what they are—very small problems, not major calamities that mean you’ve blown it. You’ll be able to find pleasure and satisfaction in the fact you’re learning as you go and doing a little better all the time. No more making things worse because your perfectionism caused you to write off the rest of the day or week after one little slip.
There are many more ways practicing moderation can help you both with weight loss and with creating your healthy lifestyle. Take some time and study the virtue of moderation….it will do you good.
Drink Alcohol Only in Moderation (Good Advice for Controlling Alcohol Consumption)
Here are some strategies to help you cut back or stop drinking.
1. Try to limit your drinking to no more than: 1 drink a day for women or 2 drinks a day for men.
2. Keep track of your drinking: First, set a drinking limit. For example, you may decide to have no more than 3 drinks per week.
Step 1: Write down your drinking limit on a piece of paper.
Step 2: Keep track of your drinking. Write down every time you have a drink for 1 week.
3. Take a day off from drinking: Choose a day each week (for example, Tuesday) when you will not drink.
4. Don’t drink when you are upset: If you have a bad day or are feeling angry, don’t reach for a drink. Try taking a walk, calling a friend, or seeing a movie. Find healthy ways to manage stress.
5. Avoid places where people drink too much: Stay away from bars or other places that make you want to drink.
6. Learn new skills to change your drinking habits: Planning ahead can help you manage situations when you might be tempted to drink too much. Plan ahead of time how you will say “no” if someone offers you a drink. Practice these strategies to handle an urge to drink.
7. Limit the amount of alcohol you keep at home.
8. Make a list of reasons not to drink: Keep this list in your wallet, bag, or on your fridge. Refer to it when you have the urge to drink.
9. Ask for help if you need it: Ask your friends and family to support you, they are just waiting for you to ask for help.
10. Find a doctor or treatment program near you. Call (1-800-662-4357) for information about treatment. What about cost? Screening and counseling for alcohol misuse are covered under the new Affordable Care Act. You may be able to get these services at no cost to you.
How can I tell if I’m at risk for a drinking problem?
- If you are drinking 4 or more drinks every day.
- If you are drinking 10 or more drinks every week.
- If you feel like you need a drink to solve any sort of problem.
If you are drinking too much, you can improve your health by cutting down or quitting.
If you have a problem, it’s important to see a doctor right away.
How will drinking less or quitting help me?
Drinking in moderation or not drinking at all can help you:
- Lower your blood pressure
- Lower your risk of injury, heart disease, stroke, some types of cancer, and liver problems
- Lose weight
- Save money
- Get along better with your family
Who needs to avoid drinking completely?
Don’t drink at all if you:
- Are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to get pregnant
- Are under age 21
- Plan to drive a car or use machines
- Take over-the-counter or prescription medicine that can interact with alcohol (check the label)
- Are recovering from alcoholism
- Have a health condition that can be made worse by drinking (like liver disease)
Are you worried about a loved one’s drinking?
It takes courage to talk to a family member or friend about her drinking. Use these tips to help you get started.
*Be honest about how you feel. Try starting a conversation with…
- “I care about you.”
- “I worry about your health. Drinking too much puts you at risk for heart disease, stroke, some types of cancer, and liver problems.”
- “Your drinking is affecting our relationship.”
- Offer tips on how to cut back or quit.
*Here are some ideas that you can suggest:
- “Set a drinking limit. Stick to your limit by writing down every drink.”
- “Let’s take a night or two off from drinking each week.”
- “When we go out, we can stay away from bars or other places that make you want to drink.”
- “If you are having trouble sticking to your limits, consider joining a support group or talking to a doctor.”
*Support a change.
- “Talk to me when you want a drink. We can go for a walk and talk instead.”
- “Let’s enjoy activities that don’t involve drinking – like seeing a movie or working in the garden.”
- “How else can I support you?”
MODERATION IN ALL THINGS
By Donald Boudreaux
Aristotle wisely advised moderation in all things. Gluttons and fanatics self-destruct by refusing to make the tradeoffs necessary to lead a good life. “Don’t tell me that I can’t drink and carouse every night and not succeed in my career!” insists the fool. “I can have it all.”
Well, he can’t. No one can.
That’s the thing about tradeoffs. They’re unavoidable. If you don’t make your own tradeoffs, they will be made for you by nature, by chance, or by other people. And it’s a sure bet that when you abdicate your ability to choose how your tradeoffs are made, the ways that nature, chance, or other people make them for you will displease you.
As I read it, Aristotle’s counsel of moderation is no puritanical call for an austere life unadorned by intense sentiments, pleasures, and passions. Rather, he counsels personal responsibility and rationality in pursuing your sentiments, pleasures, and passions. You simply cannot enjoy limitless amounts of all the possible joys available in life. If you grasp unthinkingly at every pleasurable opportunity that passes your way, you will not be making choices. You will be reacting mindlessly. And your mindless pursuit of immediate pleasures will deny you access to other opportunities. You will enjoy fewer pleasures and much less happiness over the long haul than you would have enjoyed had you acted rationally.
Make whatever choices you wish, constrained only by your respect for the rights of others to make whatever choices they wish. But make your choices. Make them rationally and wisely. Your choices may differ substantially from mine. But as long as you choose your own tradeoffs rationally—without abdicating that responsibility to others or to fate—your prospects for a fulfilling life are promising.
The Aristotelian counsel of moderation is, thus, a plea to weigh tradeoffs mindfully. It has an important implication for public policy, which is this: true moderation (and its resulting happiness) is necessarily an individual pursuit and accomplishment. It cannot be achieved by a third party, whether that third party is a democratic majority or a dictator. The reason is that, in each instance, striking the right tradeoff requires assessing the relative merits of many different options in light of each person’s unique circumstances, opportunities, and aspirations.
Because you cannot know my preferences, hopes, history, and opportunities, and because I cannot know yours, neither of us is well equipped to make sound decisions for the other. Were I to attempt, even with excellent intentions, to make your choices for you, the result would not be moderation for you. The result would be immoderation. My inability to know your aspirations and circumstances inevitably would cause me to foist on you too much of some things and to deny you too much of others. Your life would be imbalanced.
Indeed, to the extent that you as an individual are stripped of your right to choose, you are stripped of humanity. Whether you believe that your capacity for rational thought is God-given or the exclusive product of natural selection, the fact is that you possess this capacity. Your capacity to think and to choose is who you are. Exercising it is what makes you an individual. The very concept of individuality is empty absent each person’s right to make his own life’s choices.
Some readers might respond with an “Of course. Who denies that freedom to choose is necessary both for human happiness and for the flourishing of individuality?” To this response I say: While many people pay lip service to this fact, too few really believe it.
Consider, for example, the demonization over the past several years of tobacco companies. This demonization occurred only because it is widely believed that people are mindless fools who lack sufficient capacity to judge and choose wisely. If people so lack the capacity to choose wisely that the mere sight of a cigarette jutting from the chiseled chin of a cowboy impels them to smoke, then a solid case might be made that tobacco companies are predators seizing profit from a fundamental human weakness—namely, an inability to choose and act wisely.
But if most of us truly believe both that people are capable of making their own choices wisely and that people’s freedom to choose ought not be throttled, then efforts to demonize tobacco companies would fail. It is today’s presumption that smokers are helpless dupes—that people are mere reactors rather than actors—that is the source of the current hostility toward smoking and tobacco companies. And it follows almost inevitably from this despairing view of humans-as-foolish-reactors that ordinary men and women must be protected from themselves by the Wise and the Good—or, at least, by those who fancy themselves anointed because they’ve achieved political power.
Of course, it’s true that even the most prudent amongst us sometimes make poor choices. It’s also true that some of us persistently react childishly rather than choose wisely. But one of the beauties of a society governed by the impartial rules of private property rights rather than by government dictates is that the consequences—good and bad—that fall on each decision-maker correspond closely to the consequences that these decisions have on others. If I produce a $200 computer that has all of the features and reliability of a model that costs $2,000, I prosper. If, in contrast, I use resources to produce chocolate-covered pickles, I lose money. Likewise, if I use my energy and time to acquire productive skills and knowledge, I prosper. If, in contrast, I squander my energy and time pursuing nothing other than my own immediate gratifications, I personally pay the price.
But when politics replaces freedom and personal responsibility, people who make poor decisions—for example, domestic producers who don’t invest as wisely as foreign firms—are often shielded from the consequences of their poor choices. Political favors enable such people to persist in their own immoderation, but only by taxing and regulating the rest of us in ways that compel us to support their immoderate behavior. In the end, society winds up with immoderately large amounts of the undesirable behavior protected by government and too little of the desirable behaviors necessary for a prosperous, free, and civil society.
To have moderation in all things requires freedom from immoderate government.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”Throw moderation to the winds, and the greatest pleasures bring the greatest pains” author=”Democritus”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”moderation, which consists in an indifference about little things, and in a prudent and well-proportioned zeal about things of importance, can proceed from nothing but true knowledge, which has its foundation in self-acquaintance.” author=”Plato”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Though a man should conquer thousands and thousands of valiant foes, greater will be his victory if he conquers nobody but himself. Fight with yourself; why fight with external foes? He who conquers himself through himself will obtain happiness…. It is difficult to conquer oneself; but when that is conquered, everything is conquered.” author=” Jainism”/]
Moderation in all things: a useless phrase
By Steven Reed
I often wondered where the phrase “Moderation in all things” came from, so I decided to so some research on my own. First of all, this phrase doesn’t come from the Bible, or the Book of Mormon or any scripture for that matter, here is a little history behind its origins:
moderation in all things proverbial saying, mid 19th century; a more recent formulation of the idea contained in there is measure in all things. The essential thought is found in the work of the Greek poet Hesiod (c.700 bc), ‘observe due measure; moderation is best in all things’, and of the Roman comic dramatist Plautus (c.250–184 bc), ‘moderation in all things is the best policy.’ (Knowles)
So basically we have an idea popularized by pagans and used loosely by Christians. I see some problems with this that I’ll cover here in a moment. Now, the closest thing we have in scripture to this idea is 1 Corinthians 9:25: And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown (1 Corinthians 9:25).
The word temperate here is from the Greek “egkrateuomai” and means to “exercise self-restraint (in diet and chastity)”. Inherent in the idea of Christianity’s self-restraint includes certain things that you much completely restrain yourself from; there’s no middle ground for moderation.
Courtesy of the Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, let’s take a look at the word moderation:
MODERA’TION, n. [L. moderatio.] The state of being moderate, or of keeping a due mean between extremes or excess of violence.
- Restraint of violent passions or indulgence of appetite.
- Calmness of mind; equanimity; as, to bear prosperity or adversity with moderation.
- Frugality in expenses.
So moderation and temperance appear to mean pretty close to the same thing in that they convey the idea of self-restraint, but moderation tends to imply the idea of a middle ground or mean. Language changes over time and when it does, our ideas of things also change. Moderation and temperance used to convey the idea of self-restraint, but today, when we look at a modern definition of the word, we find that it means:
- Being within reasonable limits; not excessive or extreme: a moderate price.
- Not violent or subject to extremes; mild or calm; temperate: a moderate climate.
- Of medium or average quantity or extent.
- Of limited or average quality; mediocre.
- Opposed to radical or extreme views or measures, especially in politics or religion.
Note that there is a subtle shift in the meaning. Today, moderate seems to stress the idea of “not being subject to extremes”. Here’s my problem with this: Who gets to define what the “extremes” are? One man’s moderate is another man’s extremist.
From a religious perspective, “moderation in all things” is a terribly incorrect idea. You can’t have a “moderate” level of adultery, pornography, theft, bearing false witness or murder in your life and expect to please God. Explain to me what the “moderate” level of rape in society should be? Remember we are talking moderation in ALL things.
To the world, living a life without any of these evil influences would certainly be extreme and outside of the norm. To the world, we most certainly would not be moderate in all things. Looking at the phrase for what it implies, why, other than the phrase sounding like it means something good, would we use it?
Maybe it is the “in all things” that is the culprit.
Can you imagine being moderate in kindness or generosity? Can one be too kind or too generous? Can one truly be moderate in righteousness or purity? We are taught to stay completely away from sin and to be completely committed to perfection. Moderation suggests to me living in between the two, a compromise that seems to be a broad road in opposition to the narrow path we are commanded to walk.
Another way to look at things
Self-restraint and our attitude towards truth seem to be the more important and legitimate aspects that we should concern ourselves with when assessing the things of life. Perhaps next time, instead of just parroting out the phrase “moderation in all things” it might be better to consider first, what is true and second, what our obligations are toward that truth. Maybe a better alternative to “moderation in all things” could be “righteousness in all things“?
Introducing Patterns of Healthy Teenager Moderation in Five Easy Steps
Step 1: In an open discussion with your teenager, help him identify a short list of specific behaviors or habits that could benefit from using moderation. Help him write down the list, along with a sentence describing a desired change, moderation, or goal for each behavior or habit.
Step 2: Have your teenager rank the behaviors in order of importance to her (not in order of importance to you!). Then together rank them in order of difficulty to change. For example, you might both agree that getting up an hour earlier would be really hard, but remembering to set out clothes to wear the night before would not.
Step 3: Pick the easiest behavior to change that is neither the least important nor the most important in your teenager’s ranked list. (Remember, the goal is successful change.)
Step 4: Help your teenager choose an increment of change that seems manageable to him. For Instance, getting to hockey practice on time three out of five days each week for the first two weeks, and then setting a new goal, might seem reasonable. Determine materials needed to help implement the change (a watch, a reminder call for the first week, a note on the door, etc.).
Step 5: Together, choose a reward that your teenager will give herself (perhaps with your help) each time she successfully achieves the new behavior. This reward should be small but significant and enjoyable, such as playing a favorite computer game for an extra fifteen minutes or more time texting or calling a friend.
Once your teenager realizes that changing a behavior and achieving healthy moderation results in more productivity and greater self-esteem, she will be able to take giant steps on the journey toward a better life.