Friday, August 2, 2013

Choice: The Crucial Conjunction

If I’m going to make the sacrifice of eating a healthier diet, I do it in order to obtain something better.  In the past I have been confused about what this reward is.  What exactly am I sacrificing for?

Elder Dallin H. Oaks “Good, Better, Best”

The media suggests that I make these sacrifices so I can look as fit, trim, and attractive as the models they post in magazines, TV, and movies.  End of story.  Be that attractive and wow, that’s the reward!  Oh, but it is also implied that I need to show it off to everyone and their dog.  That’s when the reward will be mine.

In respect to good, better, and best, I have learned that the object is to not sacrifice better or best for something good. There is always a Crucial Conjunction or an opportunity cost in sacrifice. When we give something up, the hope is to obtain something better. That is the reward for making the sacrifice. It costs us a lot to give up immediate pleasure. That's expensive. At least it feels pretty expensive in the moment. But in the end we gain Sustainable Joy. The cheapness of immediate pleasures only becomes apparent once we obtain that Sustainable Joy. 

So this is where I got the phrase, 'Crucial Conjunction.' In the following video clip from Emperor's New Groove, the bad lady says: "Tell us where the talking llama is AND we'll burn your house to the ground." But that won't convince anyone to do what she wants.  If one hard thing ends with another hard thing, where's the motivation?  So she has to switch that conjunction:  "Tell us where the talking llama is OR we'll burn your house to the ground."  The little girls responds, "Well, which is it?  That seems like a pretty crucial conjunction." 

She is well aware as are all of us that an avoidance of a bad consequence or the promise of a good consequence usually motivates us to make sacrifices.

So here’s my Crucial Conjunction that the world suggests to me for eating right:  Sacrifice the treats AND a million strangers including a bunch of weirdos and salivating dogs will think I’m hot. Just what I wanted. Where's the good in that promise?

The world's values behave like a synthetic med (see blog post Anxiety and Depression).  They present a synthetic, plastic, vain reason for obtaining a real true goal. It is a false key that plugs up the keyhole preventing the real key of motivation from doing its job.

I’ve tried to give up being evaluated saying, “I don’t care what anyone thinks about me.” Not enough. Just pitters out and I go back to looking around again for validation.  This is like thinking I can choose not to have any key. I have to choose someone to report to. I live to please Him. I want to become what is valuable to the person who is valuable to me. It is just the way that it is.

The crucial point is that I have to have a pretty darn good reason for making the diet and exercise sacrifices required to obtain my fitness goals. It hurts. And vanity isn’t worth all that pain. When the going gets tough enough, I defect. I go over and join Team Treat.

I have come to understand that there are other more foundational reasons for making the sacrifice of healthy eating.

Reason #1 is described in the song "The Reason" by Hoobastank (see below). It's just pure love. Jesus Christ sacrificed himself. He suffered it. I gotta figure out where he wants me to sacrifice and do it.  I do it for Him.

Reason #2, which also motivates me to my core, is that I have been given my body as a gift.  The promise or reward is given in ADVANCE!  I know the Gift Giver is evaluating me on how I take care of it.  I want to demonstrate that I value his gifts.  So rather than put myself in front of a panel of strangers to judge my fitness, I choose to report back to him and subject myself to his evaluation.

Matthew 25:14-29
Reason #3 is that I have found that healthy eating creates an environment in my body that promotes emotional health which in turn promotes the overall development of my spirit. I progress faster in my Desire Obtainment Process when I find the balance in my body. The intensity of spiritual energy I experience when I eat better and exercise in moderation enables me to feel closer to God.  

"Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven." ~Praise to the Man, Hymn #27

Fasting from junk food and kick-butt-glory-of-the-world exercise on a continuous basis is a sacrifice. And through my experience I have noticed that my heart and mind are more sensitive to the Spirit when I do that. The best thing about this reason is that I don’t have to wait until I reach my goal to experience this reward. I feel an immediate change in my mind and heart upon changing my way of eating. Over time, it increases in intensity and sustainability. Since I have setbacks on this journey, I also experience empathy and comfort from our Savior who seems to know exactly what I’m going through.

Reason #4 is to set an example for my children.  I believe I make the greatest impact on them through my example. 
It’s like taking care of my home. When I keep my home clean, organized, smelling good, and stocked with healthy meals, I make it a more comfortable and happy place for them to be in.  Making them happy motivates me. More than temporary happiness (immediate pleasure), I want my children to be happy eternally.

I always remember it is their choice.  I teach the reasons I make this sacrifice and then strive to exemplify it. I create an environment to the best of my ability that I believe promotes the greatest balance.  Then I let them choose. They can always go out and buy their own food….but they do have to earn the money to pay for it. ; )

I take this saying (to the left) to mean that everyone has their own view and level of what is beautiful, comfortable, clean, and delicious. So if I choose to be beautiful for everyone and their dog I am literally subjecting myself to an impossible conjunction. If one person thinks it’s beautiful to be tall while their dog thinks it’s beautiful to be short how will I please them both? One person makes me feel ugly and their dog makes me feel beautiful. Which am I? Ugly or beautiful?  Trying to please everyone will just make it impossible for me ever to be convinced that I am beautiful.

In regards to height, I am what I am so I better find someone to please who thinks short is beautiful because that’s never gonna change. There are other variables about myself that I flat out don’t have the power to change. But there are some variables about myself that I do have the power to change.  Therein lies my choice.

The bottom line is this: I attract the kind of people I want to be around when I demonstrate how I take care of the things I’ve been given. That's why I continue to attempt to sacrifice to the extent that I do.

I often liken songs to the concepts I'm trying to understand. This next song by Carrie Underwood is talking about sacrifice in relationships. Since I see my eating habits as a relationship, I liken the he in this song to my old eating habits.  

Listen:  Carrie Underwood:  "Starts With Goodbye"