Mind Vs Heart & Temptations
by Anita Menon
” Only way to conquer temptation is to succumb to it”
This was the thought I woke up with, early in the morning. Why would I wake up with such a dubious thought in my head? What was I dreaming about? Chocolates or maybe some bread ( I haven’t had bread or any form of carbohydrates in a long time), or a stunning dress which was ridiculously overpriced or something even more interesting which I would leave to everybody’s imagination.
I hit the search on google to see the source of this wonderful quote and found many results which lead me to understand it was one of Oscar Wilde’s famous quotes from his work The Picture of Dorian Gray”. I will have to read this now.
It kept hovering all over me during the day as I went about my chores (resisting temptations of food, shopping plans or otherwise). I put it out on my Facebook status, twitter and it was liked, retweeted but nothing of consequence was discussed about it. So I let it stay until I was compelled to understand more about it by writing here.
The sun is setting and I see a golden glow in the sky. It looks like liquid gold which I would love to bottle and preserve forever. Soon I see it disappear and observe the darkness spread across the little world I see outside the large windows of my drawing room. But nothing earth shattering reveals itself and I am still struggling to understand why my day was consumed by such a provocative thought. It was time for dinner and I realized I was looking at a dull lentil soup and some stir fried vegetables as my dinner. The thought completely send my mind on to a tizzy. I sought the husband’s help and he acceded that dinner shouldn’t be this boring. We settled for ordering some Pizza, bread sticks and Pepsi for dinner. It was such a satisfactory meal, that settled all the restlessness that I was feeling since morning. A full tummy can change many perspectives.
What did I do here? I just succumbed to my temptation of having some not-good-for-me, food. But I enjoyed it. I am feeling a little guilty but less frustrated. So what do I prefer? Less guilt or More frustration? A little guilt didn’t hurt anyone. I made promises to myself to work it off in the morning at the gym. Don’t know if I will actually do it or not, though. But for now, I am fine. I am good. I am happy.
Why did yielding to temptation make me feel better? That is because I listened to how I was feeling. I was listening to what was in my heart. Was it a stupid thing to do? Yes, most probably, Yes. So giving in to temptation was by all means, a heart over mind decision.
This pizza-dinner adventure has got me thinking about :
1. How many times I would have succumbed to temptations; say out of 10 times? 8 out 10 or 5 out 10 times? What is a good ratio? What sort of a person does that make me?
Well to this question, I feel no ratio is good or bad. Guided by instincts, I should listen to my heart or my mind depending on the situation at hand. As far as the question of , what sort of person would that make me is concerned, – I would be as good or as bad a person, as I let myself be or think to be.
2. What is the best way to assess any situation? Should I let my heart rule over my mind?
This will ensure that I would end up wearing my heart on my sleeve at all times. This will lead to a lot of heartache, pain and misery, I am sure. I don’t want that. I want to protect myself. Self-preservation is a natural instinct and the mind ensures that I assess a situation first before I jump into it, like a child would.
3. If I let my heart rule over my mind, would that mean I would have more experience (good or bad) which would in turn be more fulfilling?
But soon a time would come when the emotional side would have been wrecked by the vagaries of life and the heart would turn skeptical. Will such a situation be regarded as a life well-lived? I am not sure.
4. What about a situation where I let my mind take all the decisions and the heart has nothing to say?
This should the basic course on survival that God should have already taught us before we entered this World. But it is not so because we would then miss out on the beautiful experiences and some bad ones as well, that shape us and our personalities. Wouldn’t work at all or would it? Would it make me cold hearted and calculative? Possibly. Would it shield me from all the hurt? It may or may not.
So there is no one truth to any of this.
We do something or take decisions based of multitude of factors that present themselves at that very instant such as our mood, our experience, the situation at point in time and sometimes even the company. Also, it is the societal pressure that probably makes us take many decisions.
Another window to this debate would be about creative people like poets, writers, artists, painters – do they have more of a leeway to give in to their temptations than us ordinary mortals? Is that why this lot appears more alluring to the commonplace? Is society more forgiving when they yield to temptations of all sorts as a way to further their artistic aspiration and expression? I would say yes and good for them!!!
Why does one even encounter temptation?
The most common reason would be discontent with the current situation and selfishness. These are facts of life which hit us at some point or the other. We feel this because we compare all the time which is also quite natural a thing to do as we live in a world where everything is relative to something. Nothing is absolute in itself. So the best way to counter temptation is to stop comparing! Easier said than done!!! So what do we do under such dolorous circumstances? Well nothing but to accept the situation for how it presents itself.
Acceptance is the biggest gift one can give oneself. To be able to accept the situation, the heart to accept others the way they are and the courage to accept ones limits and faults are the best weapons to deal with temptations for any kind of a situation. Having said that, it wouldn’t mean that one wouldn’t succumb to temptation but atleast one can hope to cut some slack for ourselves and for others. Thus making the whole situation bearable. That’s when one can think straight and then decide on whether one wants to listen to the heart or the mind. That time is crucial. Everyone should have that window to decide and that is solely possible when one is more accepting and hence more forgiving.
Another aspect is our talent to compensate. We all make compensations for things that we do or don’t and for us or for others. It is the most reasonable way to justify, reason, seek forgiveness for something that we feel guilty about. So if temptation is at large and there is no way one can avoid it or one doesn’t want to avoid it, then compensation is the best sort of artillery one can resort too. 2 positives for one negative? Will that work?? It may or it may not. But it is worth the shot given that at sometime or the other we are bound to give in to our senses and temptations.
So if I gobble up a bar of chocolate, then I compensate by either going to the gym or eating light. Works, right? In certain cases it will and in certain, it won’t.
Either ways, for me personally the ratio of mind over heart has kept changing as I have grown older. In my opinion, the older you grow, you weigh on your mind more than you would on your heart. How does this change come about? Well for me it has come about through some tough-love that life has showered on me. Having weathered some storms, I have realized that in order to protect me and my interests I have to resort to my mind before I let my heart take over. Sometimes when I see them working in tandem is when I know I have made the right decision.
Hope that it happens more and more.
Now about the Pizza; I have promised myself that I would work it off by hitting the gym tomorrow morning. Whether I do it or not is something I can decide on in the morning. Most probably the heart is going to win this one and soon there might be a post on my blog stating how one MUST NOT succumb to temptation at any cost.