Strength is the ability to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands and then eat just one of those pieces. – Judith Viorst
It is not easy for many people to leave the other pieces on the table and walk away from their worse temptations.
People are experience rich and theory poor.
Sometimes we don’t understand why we do what we do. We do and experience so many things in life but can’t explain them (theory).
When we are young, we bow down to peer pressure, when we are old, bow down to temptations.
Judith Viorst’s quote is not about the strength of our arms or of our backs. This quote, when speaking of strength is speaking of restraint and the strength of will.
The quote specifically mentions the ability to break a chocolate bar into pieces. For most people and most chocolate bars, that is not really a test of strength. But the strength required to eat just one of them, and leave the other three for a later time or for other people, that shows restraint, and the strength of will to choose to not do something.
Whether you share or delay, it is by strength of will and our determination to decide to show restraint, and then carry out that action without fail.
Usually we think of restraint as being an outside force. Restraining from doing things we are not suppose to do is usually an inside force.
Those who have the strength of self-restraint, the strength of will, to choose and stick to that choice despite temptation and desire, have a powerful tool in their lives.
Being able to say “No” when no is the proper thing, even if you want it badly, is a wonderful feeling and very rewarding.
For most people, chocolate is a terrible weakness. While intellectually it is easy to say that we would leave the other three pieces of chocolate behind, in reality, we probably would not. We might walk away once, or even twice, but eventually, we would find ourselves standing before the three remaining chunks, arguing and justifying our behavior, and then eating them.
It is okay to have a weakness, and to fail from time to time. That is just human nature. But what is dangerous is when we either don’t know we lack the strength to restrain our desires, or when we lie to ourselves about our ability to show restraint. That is when we are at our most vulnerable.
What if someone knew of our weakness, in this case, say chocolate? If they wanted something and knew I couldn’t say no to chocolate, they could exert quite a bit of leverage just by waving some chocolate in front of me. Would that influence your decision making process? Yes, somewhat. And that’s the problem.
Learning self-restraint is a habit. Like all habits, new ones are woven one thread at a time. Pick something easy, and do it. Stick to it. Remind yourself that this is a test, and that you can and will pass it. It’s something you can do, and will successfully complete.
Old habits can be broken either by slowly breaking them down, declining to do the undesired behavior more and more often, until it is easily terminated.
Strength is the ability to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands and then eat just one of those pieces.
The first step to solve a problem is to admit that there is a problem and then work hard to walk away from the chocolate pieces.
Ps: thanks to the The A-Philosopher’s Chair for this insight.