Giving up chocolate for Lent; Easter, Baumeister and Willpower

Easter EggsEaster is coming and the Easter eggs are in the stores, lines and lines of them. It is a very British tradition. Around 80 million eggs are eaten in the UK each year. There are an estimated 63 million people in the UK and that means some people are eating more than one egg. Even the Queen on her jubilee year may be tucking into a few of them.

Lent lasts for fourty days. It is based on the time Jesus spent fourty days and fourty nights in the desert. 40 days and 40 nights. The number fourty seems to have significance in many areas. The flood which Noah built his ark for was for fourty days, Jonah gave the people of Nivenah fourty days to repent. Then this idea of fasting or avoiding the thing you love to eat developed. It is odd; it is about giving up something and not taking up something. Someone I know is giving up takeaways for Lent, another chocolate and crisps. Chocolate seems a common one.

For the last few weeks I have not eaten chocolate. Chocolate is something I do love and have eaten almost everyday of my life. No doubt I was even crunching it in my mothers womb. These past few weeks have made me think though. I have missed it but not as much as I thought I would. It has become a matter of habit now and if I see something with chocolate on it (biscuits, cake and even cappuccino) I then push it aside. Before that I would always go towards the chocolate. Chocolate galore it was, chocolate heaven. This is different. Odd, it was not as difficult as I thought it would be. Why is it some things can be so easily given up and others seem to be so difficult to do so? Was it the temporary nature? Maybe chocolate was not as important as I had thought? Or maybe the time was right to give it up? Or, maybe because I had said I would do it and many other people I know are still doing it? Has that maintained some pressure on me to continue? I still have over a week to go. Will I falter in the last few days?

This giving up and being without is such an interesting concept. Baumeister (2011) in his book on Willpower writes as to how willpower cannot be maintained endlessly. There is a point when we weaken, willpower wanes and difficulty raises it ugly head and this is when depletion occurs. Self-regulation is an important part in our own success. To be successful in something we need self-regulation. It is not an easy thing to self-regulate and maintain success. There is always a tipping point in continuing the hoped for activity. We all have that point in something and the depletion can occur. The point is to choose what counts for you. It is a muscle that requires practice and constant creative input.

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Filed under Addiction Patterns, Psychology, Self-regulation, Thinking Patterns

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