By Megha Bajaj September 2011 Thinking of the consequences of our actions helps rein in bad habits and gives good ones a fillip Megha is, above all, a seeker. These days sheis attempting to find herself in the role of a teacherthrough the online writing course designed by her. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org That all-too familiar burning in the stomach was back. I sighed. Once again, yet, once again, I had let my tongue get the better of me. I had over-eaten and my excuse was just this: it was my favourite kind of food (Italian, if you must know!). Karma, unfortunately, didn’t have much of a taste for it and it was now repayment time. Arun, my husband, was snoring softly beside me. He had stuck to simple food in the fancy restaurant while I had gorged on the delicacies. After an extremely uncomfortable night, I finally dozed off in the morning only to have a terribly cranky day ahead. A few weeks later, once again I found myself at a friend’s house being served delicacies. Mindlessly, I was about to pig out when suddenly the events of the fateful night flashed before me. The ‘sick feeling’ seemed to engulf me and the word, “after-effects” surfaced in my consciousness. Just thinking about the consequences of eating to my heart’s content made me limit my food. Needless to say, since I ate light, I slept tight. After-effects. This word was lingering in my head the next morning. I realised by simply anticipating what the after-effects of over-indulging would be, I had been able to curb myself. The mind, by its very nature, embraces pleasure and resists pain. So far, hogging was associated as an extremely pleasurable act for me. However, as I thought of the after-effects, I was able to associate pain with it and thereafter curb my enthusiastic palate. After-effects. It’s interesting to see that most great habits may not necessarily be pleasurable while we are involved in it – but the aftereffects are life-enhancing. Waking up in the morning and exercising doesn’t sound exciting, eating simple food doesn’t seem so thrilling, being disciplined with my meditation isn’t always what I love to do – and yet, each of these have wonderful after-effects. Most bad habits are extremely enjoyable in the moment – but the after-effects are life-draining. Over-eating, over-sleeping, smoking, leading an undisciplined life… all the bad habits that you can think of usually have after-effects ranging from guilt to serious health issues. Somehow, I had never been able to bring discipline into my life. The bad habits seemed a bit too pleasurable to drop. However, with my exploration of the word after-effects, it’s becoming easier to work upon them. The plan is simple – while involved in an act, I simply think of what the after-effects of it will be. Junk food? Acidity! My mind seeks to avoid it. Not exercising? Guilt. I feel it’s not worth it – I would rather get moving! Meditation? Peace, intimacy with God. May as well make it a regular part of my day. That is how my mind has started working these days and quite effectively too. Essentially, all I am doing is changing the pleasure associated with bad habits into pain and pain associated with great habits with pleasure. With pleasure and pain in their right place, I am able to make the right choice more easily. Essentially, all I am doing is changing the pleasure associated with bad habits into pain and pain associated with great habits with pleasure. With pleasure and pain in their right place, I am able to make the right choice more easily.
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