In this six-part series, I want to offer practical, actionable advice on how to earn and gain your independence.
Today, we are focusing on overcoming vice: what is vice, why it hinders your progress to greater independence, and how to overcome it.
Table of Contents
- What Is Vice?
- What Is Independence?
- How Does Vice Ruin Your Chance At Independence?
- Shame Creates Constant Suffering that Will Slow You Down
- Vice Always Undermines Your Independence
- How Does Society’s Love Of Vice Undermine Your Independence?
- How To Overcome Vice
- Identify what you struggle with
- Understand that if you overcome your vices, you will be strong
- Create a tangible game plan for your vices. Make sure you have clear goals
- Do physical and practical things to clear your mind and overcome your vices
- Become Independent by Defeating Your Vices
What Is Vice?
“No one gossips about other people’s secret virtues.” – Bertrand Russell
Vice is “immoral or wicked behavior.”
Vice is a pervasive issue. There will always be behaviors, habits, and biases that directly and indirectly detract from the quality of life.
The range and impact of vices can significantly differ. For instance, a lesser moral fault, such as indulging in too many sweets, is unlikely to wreak havoc on one’s family. However, potential health issues that grow from such overindulgence might, over time, subtly and negatively permeate one’s community.
The unhealthier you are, the less you can help others, the more expensive your health care is, and the lower quality of life you can enjoy. Small vices can grow into more significant vices, and too much dysfunction will wreck your life.
What Is Independence?
Independence is “not relying on another or others for aid or support.”
Independence is surviving and thriving on your own.
The objective is not to embody solitude, like a lone wolf, but to liberate oneself from malignant, cynical, and dysfunctional forces, including governments and weak individuals.
Thus, it’s vital to acknowledge that one cannot and should not tackle every task alone. The goal is to avoid becoming another victim of society’s vices and arbitrary edicts of the ruling classes.
How Does Vice Ruin Your Chance At Independence?
For example, I like to play video games. Video games and the tools needed to play them are not inexpensive. Additionally, it requires time and energy to play video games. I’m not reading or working out if I’m playing a game.
This arrangement isn’t the end of the world if I have a clear budget and time to enjoy my hobby. But, video games quickly become a vice if I spend hours playing games at the cost of my health and family. Additionally, buying more and more games to play will drain my bank account.
With less money, I can’t buy the things I need to secure my independence, such as backup food or labor-saving devices like a better dishwasher. I can’t learn new skills and expand my money-making potential with less time. With less energy, I can’t exercise as much.
Vice is always costly. The more you invest in your vices, the less you have for your virtues.
Shame Creates Constant Suffering that Will Slow You Down
And when we engage in vice, we feel guilt and shame for our actions. We know we should be doing better things with the resources we have. We know that vice can enslave us and that such enslavement serves no one except the worst people.
Therefore, you either wallow in shame or create the justifications needed to excuse it. The justifications are never convincing; you must use more mental energy to lie to yourself. At the end of the day, you waste time that could be better spent overcoming your vices and moving on.
The arguments that try to justify pornography fall apart very quickly. Everything from the consenting adults to “everyone looks at porn” won’t stand up to scrutiny. Pro-porn arguments are post facto justifications for an addiction.
The real solution is to own the shame, admit the issue, and seek help. The other is to argue fervently the justifications for your vices, even as time is wasted and energy is displaced.
Vice Always Undermines Your Independence
“Our labour preserves us from three great evils — weariness, vice, and want.” – Voltaire
Lastly, you will hate yourself if your vices control you. You can never know if you will keep your word when you set a goal. Will you remain focused while working on the computer? Or will you go to the gym at the time you scheduled? You can never know if you are enslaved to your whims. Such a distrustful mindset towards yourself is not the foundation for building independence.
If you have too many vices, you can’t keep a tight schedule, earn your independence, or control what you want to be. You will be a slave, and a slave has to make plans based on the whims of his master.
Vice is your enemy. You have a fierce battle ahead to overcome the worst aspects of yourself. However, the fight is worth doing; your victory is essential if you wish to become independent.
How Does Society’s Love Of Vice Undermine Your Independence?
Before we dive into overcoming vice, I want to highlight society’s natural inclination towards enslaving you.
Our society rewards our vices. When we do poorly or abuse the beautiful life we’ve been given, we find support and justification in our broader society. There is profit in making people addicts, power garnered by deceiving voters, and mobs grown by dismantling people’s common sense.
Remember, society does not benefit from your freedom. The church does not benefit from your selfish pursuit of your virtuous ends; the government does not benefit from you being free of their “safety nets” and unsustainable programs; corporations do not benefit from you buying little and consuming less. The mob does not benefit from you refusing to engage and being another empty shell to abuse others.
So when we take this journey to free you from vice, do not look to your broader culture for help or direction. No one wants you free. You must free yourself.
How To Overcome Vice
Overcoming vice is essential if you want to be free. To overcome your vices, you must be willing to suffer. But through this suffering, you become a better individual, capable of shouldering the responsibility of living your life.
Identify what you struggle with
We all have vices that we struggle with. Thus, you must be very clear about your struggles. Denial will not save you. Be courageous enough to see your vices and admit what they are.
Remember that your problems will be, and will not be, the same as others. You are an individual, so the way a vice affects you, how easily you can overcome it, and what tools you have will be unique to you. But everyone struggles with vice, and the things you feel addicted to others also feel the same. The commonality of vices should fuel your resolve to overcome them for a few reasons:
- If you defeat your vices, you will be unique, building your individualist ideal.
- Defeating your vices leaves you free in a world of people who are slaves.
- You won’t spend time legitimizing your vices; you can focus on building yourself to be a better, greater person instead of wasting time giving meaning to what harms you.
Look at yourself, highlight what tempts you, and figure out why. Why do you have this addiction? Why do you want to be distracted? Asking questions will give you more confidence in communicating internally about your struggles.
So, list the things that distract you, take your time, and cause you pain if you forgo them. A vice, to me, is something you couldn’t give up for three weeks without suffering mental and physical pain: video games, candy, pornography, drugs, etc.
Lastly, never justify your vices. Society teaches people to justify their vices, not fight through them. Justifying what harms us grows in strength and influence, poisoning everything within our lives. Dysfunction begets dysfunction.
Understand that if you overcome your vices, you will be strong
The more vices you defeat, the more time and energy you get back. Our vices suck the life from us, robbing us of peace of mind and opportunities. But if you prioritize overcoming vices, you will dominate the worst parts of yourself. Within that domination is the independence you seek.
Society paints vice as good because the stronger you are, the harder you are to control. They need you to be convinced that being an addict will grant you power and make life fun. This is a lie.
Casual sex does make you “cool” or “interesting.” You’re just an addict incapable of making lasting connections with others and holding down a relationship. Drugs do not give you more enlightenment or strength. You just become dependent on substances designed to warp your mind and slowly kill you.
The overindulgence in things destroys your soul, giving you less control over yourself and who you could be. If you overcome your vices, you repair the broken parts of your mind, face life fully, and work to overcome what ails you.
Create a tangible game plan for your vices. Make sure you have clear goals
After you’ve understood the mental benefits, the challenge of overcoming vices is to prepare for the mental battle.
You will suffer. Overcoming your vices will cause you pain both mentally and physically. No matter what people tell you or how desperately they paint vices as good, once you try to go cold turkey, you will see how addicted you are to the distractions in your life.
So, we start by taking your list of vices and setting goals. When do you want to overcome these vices? Why do you want to win at that time? Ask yourself honestly: can I triumph over this vice by this time? Can I overcome this vice sooner?
Next, look at your vices: what do you struggle with the most? What is costing you the most time, energy, and self-respect? What do you think would be harder to overcome? Easier?
From there, it’s time you do research. We all suffer unique vices, but there are scores and scores of resources on the internet that will detail how you can defeat what ails you.
The goals you set should match with what the experts say and what others have done to defeat what you struggle with. You are not alone in this.
Overcoming vices should be a priority for you. Furthermore, the more goals you set, the better off you will be in overcoming the worst aspects of yourself. Setting clear goals is crucial to the success you want to experience. And the more success you have, the greater your life becomes. Additionally, always give yourself clear rewards for overcoming your vices and defeating the worst aspects of yourself.
Do physical and practical things to clear your mind and overcome your vices
- Mindfulness and Meditation: Engage in mindfulness activities that encourage recognizing your emotions. Meditate, pray, and frequently reflect on your thoughts and emotions, especially as you are experiencing them.
- Journaling: Journaling can help you navigate your thoughts and undercover the sources of your vices. Physical Activity and Nutritious Eating: Regular physical activities can trigger the release of endorphins, acting as natural mood enhancers. Consuming a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can uplift mental health.
- Moderating Stimulants: Cut back on sweets, coffee, alcohol, and other subtle ways you swing your moods. Furthermore, avoiding stimulants can facilitate better sleep, which in turn, helps in managing vice more effectively.
- Nature and Outdoor Engagements: Allocating time to be in nature and disconnecting from electronic devices can revitalize the mind and body.
- Practices of Gratitude: Maintaining a gratitude journal or pausing daily to recognize the positives can redirect focus from what is absent or painful to what is plentiful and uplifting.
- Participation in Purposeful Activities: Involving yourself in volunteering, assisting others, or engaging in activities that resonate with your values can bestow a sense of purpose and satisfaction. Witnessing and alleviating the suffering of others can, in turn, mitigate your own pain.
Become Independent by Defeating Your Vices
So far, we’ve discussed life goals and value systems. These tools help you understand what you should suffer for. Today, we discussed vices and their negative impact on your life.
Vice enslaves you. A slave cannot be independent. He is desperate for his master’s edicts and petty rewards. You cannot be independent if you are addicted to various things that drain your time, energy, and money. Our vices, by their very nature, slow us down. We will fail to direct ourselves toward freedom if we cannot overcome them.
However, you can choose different. Your freedom demands your discipline.
Take stock of what we’ve discussed today: recognize the negatives of your vices; seek help from the experts; plan out what you want to do and why you want to overcome your vice; be physical and reflective so your journey is easier than it initially seems.
Next week, we discuss building yourself up and how developing your passions, achievements, skills, and opportunities grants you the independence you seek.
Become an Individual.
“The modern world is not evil; in some ways the modern world is far too good. It is full of wild and wasted virtues. When a religious scheme is shattered (as Christianity was shattered at the Reformation), it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful.” – G.K. Chesterton
- What vices do you struggle with? Why do you think you struggle with them?
- How many vices have you overcome? What did you feel after your victory?
- Try to track the time and money you spend on your vices. Reflect on how you could better use those resources.
Please remember it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.