Today, I want to explore what vice is, why it should be shunned, and how it affects the individual. Then, I will detail two rules about vices to help you overcome them.
Table of Contents
- What Is Vice?
- Why Should Vice Be Shunned?
- Overcoming Vice Will Be A Challenge
- 1) Admit That Vice Is Bad
- 2) Eliminate as many vices as you can by looking at which ones cost the most
- You Control Yourself – Not Your Vices
What Is Vice?
Vice is “immoral or wicked behavior.”
Vices vary in scope and the damages they cause. For example, a minor iniquity would be eating too many sweets. You’re not likely to destroy your family by eating an extra cookie after dinner. However, some health issues from your overeating can negatively affect your community in the long term. Therefore, it’s essential to regulate this behavior and acknowledge its drawbacks.
However, a significant vice would be pornography. Pornography negatively warps the consumer’s mind, setting unrealistic expectations for sex and sexual behavior. Additionally, the porn industry is corrupted to the core. It is closely connected with sex trafficking, sexual abuse, and exploitation. Lastly, the consumption of porn will affect relationships with spouses, partners, children, parents, and others within the community.
Such high costs have no benefit.
Why Should Vice Be Shunned?
“The world says: “You have needs — satisfy them. You have as much right as the rich and the mighty. Don’t hesitate to satisfy your needs; indeed, expand your needs and demand more.” This is the worldly doctrine of today. And they believe that this is freedom. The result for the rich is isolation and suicide, for the poor, envy and murder.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
No matter how small, vice always affects the individual. Firstly, vice is inherently negative behavior. Therefore, it doesn’t produce a good. Overeating sweets does not create any good – it only makes you unhealthy. Pornography does not create a good – it only exploits and denigrates.
Additionally, vice pleases but does not fulfill. An individual may look at porn and feel the arousal of doing so, but what has he gained? Has he learned a skill? Has he become more adept at sex? Does he understand women better? He has gained nothing, and as soon as he finishes with consumption, the high he achieved will dissipate.
And that’s the danger of vice. It is never filling and never produces anything productive. The cost always outweighs any “productive” benefit. Sure, drug dealing “creates” jobs, but it also perpetuates trauma and bulwarks criminals and the violence they bring.
Overcoming Vice Will Be A Challenge
The best thing an individual can do with his life is overcome the worst aspects of himself. Of course, our current cultures do not promote self-control and greatness. Such things give more power to the individual, and when individuals have power, we can remove themselves from the brokenness of a broken world.
However, if you focus on two things, you can work towards overcoming the vices that may plague you.
1) Admit That Vice Is Bad
So much of our culture is about promoting vice as good. When we look at any issue or problem, people vehemently argue that such negative behaviors or outcomes are good and should be continued.
We have to be smarter than this. Not every vice has to go on the chopping block. In fact, many vices can be reworked into hobbies or rewards for good behavior. However, you must admit to yourself that any iniquity you possess has to be defeated, or you will not live as virtuous as possible.
2) Eliminate as many vices as you can by looking at which ones cost the most
You should always seek to eliminate or convert your vices. Which vices are ripe for elimination or conversion depends on many factors, including:
- How expensive or health-costly is the vice?
- What is the broader cost of the vice? i.e., how does this vice affect the world outside of your immediate community?
- How much time, energy, and money must you invest in this vice to keep it going?
- Traditionally and historically speaking, how have wise men viewed this vice?
Let’s take two common vices: porn and overeating.
Porn has a wide range of negative consequences beyond someone searching for it on the web. It negatively affects virtuous institutions and people while bolstering dubious and evil industries. Furthermore, porn costs by wasting people’s time, energy, and money while taking their attention away from more positive pursuits and relationships. The ancients understood its evil and condemned it roundly. Such a vice is only fit for elimination.
On the other hand, overeating is relatively small, affecting mainly the individual and the immediate community. Individuals will spend too much money on food and suffer from adverse health effects.
However, this vice can be managed, contained, and converted. If an individual eats less and saves “cheat food” for special occasions, he will benefit. He will feel joy and accomplishment when looking at his improved health. He will appreciate that tasty snack even more because he refrains.
You Control Yourself – Not Your Vices
“There is not a crime, there is not a dodge, there is not a trick, there is not a swindle, there is not a vice which does not live by secrecy.” – Joseph Pulitzer
If an individual can overcome his vices, he will be freer than ever. Thus, defeating one’s vices should be a primary focus of one’s life to maximize happiness and potential.
For example, I love video games. Video games can be a vice, as I can often play too much. However, through immense self-control, I can prevent it from being a vice and ensure it is a hobby—a fun way to spend time.
Is it the most productive use of my time? Of course not. But it is something that I enjoy. I have regulated this bad habit into something more positive.
So, when you have a vice, there are two choices: conversion or elimination. The more controllable vices should be converted into something you can enjoy. The more costly the vice, the more eager you should be to kill it.
- What are your most significant vices? How do you feel when you participate in them? How do you feel after you have had your “fill”? What do these vices cost you and others?
- Do you have any previous vices that you’ve turned into hobbies or rewards? How do you view these vices now?
- What are some vices that you have? How does our society view these vices? Why do you think these vices are viewed the way they are? If the view is positive, you should reflect on how such a positive view benefits the ruling classes, elites, and mobs. For example, poor eating is a vice. This vice creates a society of depressed, overweight individuals. Fat people are easier to control, more expensive to maintain and depend on a corrupt healthcare system. Therefore, everyone benefits from an unhealthy individual except the individual.
- I suggest reading Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins and Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. The first book shows what greatness an individual can achieve when he discards his vices and weaknesses. The second shows the same but also displays the cost of vices such as drug abuse. It’s crucial to remember that no matter how small, all vices have a cost to the individual and his community.
Please remember that 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.