Wow, French fries are delicious. Seriously, I ate some fries the other day at lunch with my friend Susanne, and they were so great! Seasoned just right, crispy on the outside and a little soft on the inside. They held up great when dipped into a big dollop of ketchup and complemented my black bean burger over micro-greens perfectly.
French fries, while yummy, sure aren’t considered healthy. So why is it that I am so quick to order them at a restaurant? It’s like that big bowl of Halloween candy on the counter where I buy my coffee some mornings. I do
not need a Reese’s peanut butter cup, so why is it so hard to resist one? The beer my boyfriend just offered me is another example.
Why are we so attracted to things that are not good for us? How could something so wrong be so right?
On the face of it, it really makes no sense that we humans would crave things that are bad for us. You would think that I would be like, “Man, I could really use some spinach because I’m feeling low on iron right now.” But that never really happens.
Of course, this attraction to the “bad” doesn’t just stop at food and beverage. Relationships can certainly fall into this category, as well as general habits. Isn’t plopping in front of the television a really attractive concept on some days? Ever get a massage, only to have those shoulders tight again almost immediately? It’s like we WANT what is clearly not good for us.
Why don’t we naturally want to honor our highest self? Why is it so difficult to do the right thing?
This summer, I went to the gym a lot. My boyfriend was away doing his own thing, and I needed some activities
to fill my time in a positive, healthy way. So I joined a group training session at the gym, started running the bridges and committed to a generally healthy diet. I learned something: I probably would never have otherwise done squats unless someone was yelling at me to do so. And yet, after I did hundreds of them, my body changed for the positive and I felt a lot stronger. You would think that I would naturally love doing squats because they were good for me.
That’s the thing. Squats, like other forms of hard exercise, are designed to break you down, literally. You are breaking down your muscle tissue so that it can regrow bigger and stronger. And it sucks! Humans tend to operate in homeostasis as often as possible. Change is difficult, so even though change is the best thing for us, we avoid it. We are adverse to it, rather than attracted to it.
So this may be part of the answer for why we like things (and people) that are bad for us. We need to numb ourselves. Even though it’s not healthy to work those long hours in a stressful job, we do it – in part because it numbs us from addressing what is truly important in life. (<– Without love in the dream it will never come true!) Junk food does not really nourish us, but the fat and sugar will numb us. All of this, especially alcohol, helps us live in a state of denial.
It’s attachment. We are attached to things that we think will make us feel good. And yet the attachment itself is the root of so much suffering.
It’s almost as if the attraction to the things that are bad happen as a result of the perversion and pollution that we do to ourselves in this life. If we never ate sugar, we would never crave sugar. If we never suffered from feeling unwanted or hurt, we wouldn’t seek attention from those who are emotionally unavailable or abusive.
So, how do we get back to our good nature? How can we start directing our lives so that we bring in the things and people who are good for us?
The answer, of course, is inside each of us. What are we numbing? I mean, really – be honest with yourself. I knew exactly what I wasn’t interested in feeling for the moment when I grabbed that piece of candy from the Halloween bowl. Did that Reese’s cup make me feel any better? It did not. Did those fries make me feel any better? They did not. Would I likely eat both again? You betcha.
It takes a long time to accept that the norm isn’t working. My friend Holly and I talked today about the joy of giving up reality television. It was more than a decade ago for me. I just realized one day that the shows that were attracting me were not really that great for me. So I stopped. I now no longer own a TV at all. Some things are easier to let go of than others.
I am working on letting go of negative thinking, of fear, of using anger to mask my true emotions, of limited thought processes, of not honoring my own beautiful self worth, of not being a completely authentic me. These are all things that I sometimes tend to do, strangely. I am working on eating cleanly, not drinking a lot of alcohol, being active and loving everyone, even those who threaten me or misunderstand me.
Rejecting cravings is really the only way we can release ourselves from the trappings of this life of suffering and transcend to happiness. Happiness? Now that is something worth attracting.