Today’s post is a solid one. It’s about a virtue that I personally really need to work on, and it’s a virtue that anyone who ever comes into any of sort of wealth needs to have unless they want to risk loving everything.
I am talking about the virtue of temperance.
This is the ability of one to abstain from an action or event; to restrain oneself if you will. Sure, it would be great to have another drink, but maybe that would be too much and then you wouldn’t be able to drive home. Sure it would be great to watch another Netflix episode, but maybe then you would stay up too late and wouldn’t be rested for work tomorrow. Sure it would be great to buy another car, but maybe that would be too much money you are spending every month and now you start to pile up debt and you risk losing both or all of your cars.
You can see where I am going with this.
Temperance is very important. It always has been and it always will be, but in today’s advanced society where so many material goods are available to so many people like never before in human history, I think it is more important than ever.
Today there is always the next phone, next computer, next fashion season, next car, next fad, next this, next that, next etc. etc. It literally never ends. There is always something to buy. And you need to ask yourself,
Does it make sense?
Now, as some of you readers already know, I am fiercely anti-socialist. I am very averse to the ideas that some people have too much and that necessarily merely because they have more than others they don’t deserve to have what they have and that it needs to be taken from them. Re-distribution of wealth is something that I find very alarming, but that is a whole other post; which will be written someday, maybe sooner than later.
In short, my stuff is my stuff and your stuff is your stuff.
Regardless of how excessive or how foolish it is. Just because I have a lot of computers does not mean that that is reason enough for someone else to have my computers. They are mine. I paid for them. If I don’t want to use them then that is my choice. They are still mine. Now it may be foolish of me to have them if I am not using them, and that is something that I cannot argue against.
This is why the virtue of temperance is so important. I firmly believe that it is totally fine for people to accrue whatever goods they want. They can do it. But that does not mean that it is smart. I would look at someone how has an excessive collection of something as impractical and not a good use of money; i.e. intemperate. That money that was spent on those items could have been better put to use in some other way: maybe in savings or in investments, or charity etc. And I am not necessarily the one to judge in that situation, but I think we can all attest to some moment where we or someone we know made unwise purchases.
It’s not that these purchases were evil and unfair, the people, in question spent their own monies on the products, but we know that they were unwise to do so.
Maybe they already had plenty of the product such that what benefit could getting another really add? Maybe a cheap high from the purchase, but after that not much. We need to guard against these feelings. Our wants literally never have an end. Human beings will never be satisfied. We are always hungry. Literally and figuratively. Just as we cannot eat one meal that will satisfy our body for the rest of our lives, so too will one purchase not satisfy us either.
There will always be something else that we desire.
And this is where we must be temperate. We need to realize this and be able to control ourselves. Our else we risk losing everything. We could lose our money if we can’t stop buying cars (which is such an easy to blow tremendous amounts of money, take it from me I used to sell BMWs and I have owned 2) or even worse we could lose our most trusted relationships, especially with our partners, if we can’t stop from desiring from other people.
Life is all about choices.
Don’t look at just your desires, look at the things that make your life work well, and that are smart for you. Sure, your desires must be part of your life. I am not advocating for buying a car that you don’t like, or for dating someone that you are not attracted to, but you need to realize that these are situations where you must choose.
You cannot change what you want, that often happens against your will. Every time I see a nice car, I think damn I want that. But, I know that getting it really wouldn’t keep me satisfied, therefore I need to be happy with something that is good enough.
Now this is much easier said than done, and that honestly is how I would sum up the virtue of temperance.
Easier said than done.
But if you can accomplish it, your life will be much better off. Much less stress from desiring anything and everything that comes your way but instead being able to be happy with moderated desires.
Well, good luck to everyone, especially to myself.