The Power of Moderation

By Dr. Joan F. Marques

If you allow yourself you can drive everything to the extreme. Most of the time that’s not a good idea. Even the pleasant things in life become hazardous when applied excessively. Some examples? Excessive eating can lead to obesity, excessive dieting to anorexia; excessive partying to empty pockets, excessive working to stress; excessive traveling to alienation of loved ones, and excessive home-boundness to boredom.

The art of living may very well lie in finding the right balance between all extremes that are offered to us. Seen in that light, successful living could easily be defined as applying the right degree of moderation. “The right degree” is a very subjective amount, though, because it will vary from one person to another, depending on variables such as age, environment, preferences, and in many cases also financial capacity.

All of the above may seem pretty straightforward when merely reading it, and perhaps even unnecessary to mention, but it is far more difficult to apply once you really get confronted with the choices in life. We often get overzealous when we engage in enthralling activities, and lose touch with our rational side until it’s too late and the damage is hard to repair.

The other day I was visiting Las Vegas and found myself in a crowd of people staring at the ceiling over Fremont Street. Those of you who have been to Las Vegas know how high the top of this fancy street overarch really is. There, on the top, stood a man, and the rumor went that he was about to jump in an attempt to commit suicide. Why? He had gotten out of touch with his sense of moderation and lost a large sum of money through gambling. More money than he could justify – so his only way out seemed to end it all.

This example may illustrate how difficult it is to remain moderate when we face fascinating temptations. Our specific area of weakness determines what we should be overly cautious about. If we like eating, we should instate alert mechanisms in that area. If it’s gambling, dieting, partying, working, drinking, smoking, or anything else that we are overly zealous in, we should do the same with those. How? Here’s an idea:

1.. First determine your zone of weakness. You may very well find more than one. Most people do.

2.. Determine what you consider “moderation” in this area. What level should you apply to stay out of physical, psychological, legal, or spiritual trouble? Consider this when you are sober and not around or in desperate need of your object of weakness. So, for instance, don’t determine what is moderate in eating if you are hungry.

3.. Set a time frame to your self-determined moderation. Your time frame could be a day, a week, a month, or a year. If you want to moderate your smoking, for instance, determine how many cigarettes you consider reasonable per day.

4.. Decide on a control mechanism. If you feel strong enough to moderate yourself, write down your resolution and keep track of your actions. If you feel that you need external help, identify a buddy of whom you’re willing to accept advise – and stick to it.

5.. Evaluate your achievements regularly. Monthly may be the best way to go for most weaknesses.

As you may have concluded by now, it’s not as easy as it seems to moderate ourselves. The numbers of obese and anorexic people, excessive smokers, drug-, alcohol-, and gambling addicts, workaholics and other excessive performers attest to this fact. Moderation, once achieved, is a private but very rewarding victory – and can make a difference like day or night about our self-perception.

About the author:

Dr. Joan Marques is a professor of business and management, and co-founder/board member of the Business Renaissance Institute. She has authored 2 books on the topics of Leadership and Global Awareness, and is currently working on two additional ones on Workplace Spirituality, and Leadership. She regularly co-organizes workshops for business and non-profit organizations in Los Angeles.

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It is better to live in serene poverty than in hectic affluence. Everything has a price. The price for nurturing your soul is turning away from excessive stress, destruction of self-respect, and the constant strive in lifestyle with the Joneses. But it’s worth it.

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