Today, I discuss how to overcome your vices.
Table of Contents
- What are vices?
- Why do we justify our vices?
- How To Regulate Your Small Vices And Overcome The Big Ones
- Start with determining the cost
- Embrace your desire to change and improve
- Keep the smaller vices while you work to defeat the more significant vices
- Take the smaller vices and exploit them
- Don’t Justify Your Vices – Overcome Them
What are vices?
“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
Vice is behavior that serves the worst within us at the expense of our virtue, communities, and goals. What is the worst within us? Our desire for immediate gratification, our laziness, our selfishness, and arrogance. Vice strengthens the negative aspects of your humanity. When such aspects are strengthened, we lose sight of our commitments, life goals, and happiness.
Vices range from pornography to overeating. Vices can be bad habits, such as watching too many videos when you should be working. Vice can be a lack of control over things such as finances. Vice can be over-indulgences in habits such as eating too many sweets.
Of course, some vices are life-destroying while others are trivial. There’s a vast difference between adultery and eating an extra cookie after dinner. However, you need to regulate or eliminate all degeneracies, even trivial ones. Why? Because minor vices metastasize into something worse.
Why do we justify our vices?
Whether you get a high from drugs or a numbing feeling from too much television, our iniquities, big and small, help us feel good. However, all perversions come at a cost. Watch too much television, and you don’t have time to do your work. Take too many drugs, and you become dependent on them, and the dealers as your health deteriorates. Spend too frivolously to get over a breakup, and you have no money for saving, investing, or emergencies.
Even though vices feel good in the short term, they usually wreck economies, families, and wellbeing. And this reality creates shame. The average person knows indulging in their vices will cost time, energy, and peace of mind. However, the average person is too weak-willed to regulate their behaviors. Thus, weak individuals feel internal shame because they are hurting themselves and others by losing oneself in a vice.
So, we must justify our vices. We rationalize to calm our internal shames and to quell the criticism of those with virtue and honor. It’s easier to lie, manipulate, and attack than to reject vice and embrace goodness.
How To Regulate Your Small Vices And Overcome The Big Ones
“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
Having a vice, big or small, will always create shame. Why? Because you know you can spend your time, energy, and money better instead of indulging in short-term thrills.
However, very few of us can live a monk’s life. Thus, we will have a “thing” we like to do that isn’t productive at all. You are human, and engaging in short-term pleasure is not always the end of the world. For example, an extra cookie won’t break up your family and tank your health. However, an extra snack is a vice and should be regulated fiercely.
- Start with determining the cost – What does playing too many games cost you? How about pornography? Remember to factor in more than just money and time. Think about your peace of mind. Think about your relationships: would your partner be hurt if they knew the things you were doing? Factor relationship costs like this into your analysis.
- Embrace your desire to change and improve – The modern world will provide all the reasoning in the world for why you should indulge in every little thing. Ignore those voices. You’re here for a reason. You want to improve yourself and overcome the problems ailing you. Do you not lose sight of that goal. Track the day-to-day. And remain patient with yourself as you progress.
- Keep the smaller vices while you work to defeat the more significant vices – I would argue never go cold turkey on everything. For example, if you want to conquer a porn addiction, then keep the YouTube videos. As you knock out the bigger problems, you’ll have freed time and money. You can take your resources and regulate your smaller iniquities with newfound strength, courage, and confidence.
- Take the smaller vices and exploit them – Once you regulate the more minor iniquities, you can use them as rewards for good work. You’ll always feel an immense rush of rational pride when you accomplish a goal and indulge in a vice that once controlled you.
Don’t Justify Your Vices – Overcome Them
I want to conclude that your hostility should be towards your justification for your vices. You should not embrace self-hatred. You should not despise your existence or inability to quickly defeat what troubles you. Self-improvement takes time.
However, you should always be disgusted and ashamed by any effort you make to justify your vices. Don’t switch up the narrative – you are not oppressed because of your vice, your perversion is not an identity, and people do not have to tolerate your iniquities. Don’t lie to yourself.
Don’t become yet another weak individual seeking movements, politics, and culture to justify their weaknesses. You can overcome the worse aspects of yourself with humility, virtue, community, and faith.
Focus on pursuing your best self. Everyone will thank you for it.
“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.” – Winston S. Churchill
- What is a vice you cannot live without? What is it costing you?
- What’s a vice you’ve overcome? How did you do it? Why did you feel compelled to defeat it?
- What are some vices you have that can be used as rewards? Move these vices from things you expect to things you have to earn. For example, you only get sweets when you run a certain number of miles.
- Read Atomic Habits by James Clear. The book provides practical advice on overcoming bad habits while solidifying good ones.
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.