The Gucci bags, Louboutin shoes, travelling business class for holidays in Paris, the latest gadgets and the toys of comfort, the selection of world cuisines and some of the most expensive Prosecco’s, Italian marble floorings and the plush leather sofas, the crystal chandeliers and the king size beds, fast luxury cars and diamond studded watches — we have filled our world with such amenities, comforts and all sorts of pleasures that give us so much sensory enjoyment, pleasure and satisfaction. The comforts and the amenities provided are almost heavenly and we have been indulging in them without least restrain since time eternal. The thirst for more is always there. What else can I buy? What’s latest and new? What more can I flaunt?

Believe it or not, the greatest paradox of this uncontrolled and excessive indulgence is that it dissipates ones’ personality and unfortunately leads to sorrow and misery.

Living a life full of comforts and luxury and enjoying the best things that life has to offer is not wrong at all. It is breathtaking and exciting. What is required, is the right balance and to know how much.

Law of Diminishing Returns

Let us look at a very simple example of a sweet chocolate brownie. Your mouth starts watering just by the thought of a molten gooey chocolate brownie. You have not even tasted the brownie, yet the pleasure kicks in through the sight of the dessert and the warm aroma that fills the air. You take a spoon and wantonly dig into the brownie and ensure that the chocolatey lava fills the spoon as you carve out your bite. All your senses are heightened as you feel the sweetness of the warm brownie in your drooling mouth. You close your eyes, smack your lips, lick the chocolate that’s oozing from your mouth and fill your spoon with the next portion even before you have finished the first one. I am sure the thought itself is making you want to open a food delivery app on your mobile and order a brownie right now.

Do you get the same feeling in the second or the third brownie? What about when you are offered the 10th brownie? If you have read Matilda by Roald Dahl, or seen the movie, can you recall the scene where Bruce Bogtotter is presented with a cake by Headmistress Agatha Trunchbull? His eyes sparkle and his senses are ignited at the sight of the scrumptious chocolate cake. But what happens when he overindulges? He falls sick. The source of his greatest joy becomes the reason for his painful torture.

There has to be basic regulation of self-restraint and discipline for gaining a more permanent joy. Nonetheless, we humans do not like to be told what to do. Traffic lights create safety and order on the roads, but you can witness such exaggerated human emotions and use of flowery words by the one who has to stop his car because the light just turned red.

While most pleasures reduce with uncontrolled and promiscuous indulgence, there are others that lead to direct harm and damage — having 20 cigarettes a day, consumption of alcohol every night, buying lottery tickets on the day you get your salary, gambling every weekend, binge watching through the night, uncontrolled hours on social media etc. Addictions creep into our lives before we even realize it, leading to temporary pleasures again, but permanent damage. That’s why choosing how much to enjoy and when to stop is extremely important.

Free will and Will Power

Nature has only gifted humans with the faculty to choose, which gives us free will. How we exercise this free will defines the person we evolve into and the life story we write.

For example, when you choose to be healthy, what you actually choose is a complete lifestyle that requires control towards overindulging in unhealthy food, be more active and move your body through weight training, running, yoga, spinning or whatever suits you. You choose to drink ample amount of water and give your mind and body time to rejuvenate through meditation and good sleep. It is a package deal that you make with yourself just with that one choice of being healthy. Do you follow through on the choice you made? Is it easy to follow through on choices like these? Well I can say for sure that it is extremely difficult, but not impossible.

This is what brings us to the importance of ‘Will Power’. Whether you will, or will not, is decided by how strong or weak is your will power. Will power and the faculty to choose is a gift available only to us humans and both and interlinked to one another.

Just before going to bed at night, so many people say to themselves, “I will go for a run tomorrow morning.” The ‘will’ is to run in the morning. Now what choice you make when the enemy sounds the war bugle in the morning, i.e. the alarm goes off at 5 AM, will decide whether your ‘will’ to run was ‘power’ful enough or not. It is much easier to hit the snooze button. To wake up and wear those shoes and head out of your front door requires the magic power-pill of the will.

Ritu Agarwal brings you episodes on Mindfulness and Holistic Life. Ritu is a certified Mental Health Practitioner and a Life Coach.