on vices and human tendencies

Something that I’ve really thought on since graduating college is how much people use either food, alcohol or smoking as a vice. It seems to be a fairly intrinsic part of our nature – to consume or use something as an outlet for our emotions or as a way to cope with our circumstances. It’s pretty interesting, though, that the most common vices (debateably) are all negative when there are positive, beneficial options as well. I suppose that even considering something a “vice) infers that it is harmful in some way.

For myself, I’ve been realizing how much I use food as a vice, sugar and coffee being the main things I turn to. Coffee is my drug of choice when I’m tired or cranky or it’s a cold day and I want something warm. Sugar, I’ve realized, is what I really “use” – if something bad or sad happens, I usually want cookies or ice cream, pronto. Bread, another carbohydrate, can fall into that category sometimes as well.

I’m trying to make the point (mostly to myself) that by simply making better choices, we don’t have to have real vices; we can simply have a coping mechanism that is beneficial for us. This probably sounds like it’s straight out of a self-help book; but really, we are the ones who have the power to make better choices for ourselves.

One way that I’m trying to not eat as much sugar is by not making desserts/baked goods with white sugar anymore. I’m not 100% doing this yet, but I think making food with higher quality ingredients makes it easier to eat less and feel more fulfilled. (Sugar has been shown to have addictive qualities.) And now that I’m getting into eating less sugary things, I’m much less tempted by the convenience food options that are so easy to reach for, like candy bars, soda, packaged cookies, and ice cream. (Okay, I still really like ice cream… but I’m trying to eat higher quality stuff, at least.)

I’m also trying to incorporate drinking tea into my routine, vs. buying or making coffee. Tea is much cheaper and tends to be much healthier for our bodies. I also think that tea is really good at helping me warm up when I’m cold.

I also am trying to get into the habit of exercising. Going for a walk or bike ride vs. plopping down on the couch is definitely more stimulating. I am really looking forward to the weather getting warmer so that going outside will be a little easier. I’m also really looking forward to gardening this summer with friends! Time spend outside is so much better than sitting inside all day.

Final thought: do you have any “vices,” or even just habits that you could alter or give up? The Bible talks about us not being “mastered by anything,” and I think that includes our own desires. This obviously varies person to person; if you’ve got any feedback I’d love to hear it.

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One thought on “on vices and human tendencies

  1. Coffee. I used to drink maybe one cup a day, but now it is quite a bit more. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a coping mechanism, but it is definitely a force of habit and a semi-social activity. And it is tasty. Given the frequency of caffeine headaches and occasional rapid heart beat, I need to cut back, but I haven’t made any changes yet. After all, I live in Seattle. Coffee is a way of life here.

    Another one for me is dancing. I have at times gone dancing to make myself feel better about life, and I have used it in worship as a substitution for actually spending time with God. I wouldn’t call dancing itself the problem, but my heart attitude toward it. There is a fine line between having fun and using the endorphins to avoid soul searching or between connecting to God through dance and using it to achieve a feeling of relationship without the actually growing spiritually. When I fall into this mentality, it’s a sure sign that I have been lax in pursuing relationship with God.

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