Today Dublins sky is a pale slate grey and really doesn’t entice me to leave the home. Warm socks and cups of tea are what this day calls for, but filling out forms and a few meetings are what is scheduled.
However I can’t help but wonder, as I gaze out into the greyness of the day, how easy it would be to give in to temptation and just curl up with a good book and ignore the world outside.
Our material world is driven by temptation: advertisement plays on it, the shops stock to enhance it, the ping of emails, Facebook and instant messages trigger it and the allure of delicious food even makes us salivate. And the pleasure we derive from giving in to all the temptation around us somehow allows us to justify it.
A recent study by associate professor Sriram Chellappan shows that giving in to temptation may be all down to alleviating pain. His study looked at the internet usage of students and he quickly discovered that those students suffering from depression checked their emails a lot more than those who didn’t.
The reason behind this could be the fact that people who are experiencing negative thoughts and feel anxious are looking for ways to make them feel batter, lessen their emotional pain, and turning towards the the web seems to boost their mood.
And since trying to make ourselves feel good is what we all do, not just those with depression, our brains are primed to seek out ways to lessen pain and increase joy. And since how we experience physical pain and emotional pain are very closely linked our brain even adds pain to things we experienced as pleasurable to push us to seek out what our bodies want. So when our body, or mind, wants something, not only does our brain open up our pleasure responses it also adds our stress response into the mix.
“Chocolate cravers” stated in a 2005 study that when they imagine themselves eating the yummy goodness, they didn’t only feel good about it, but they also experienced feelings of agitation and a sense of loss of control – temptation for them wasn’t only pleasurable, it had quite a lot of stress attached to it.
And then of course there is the “fear of missing out” – if the person next to you has something, you may want it too. Just think of siblings having desert and making sure that they both have the exact same amount, even the same thing – give one a larger slice or more smarties, or even give one ice cream and the other cake, there is sure to be a war.
It seems that temptation is just something we all have to deal with – one way or another. And giving in doesn’t really seem to be the solution, since the relief is just short lived, but always resisting won’t make us happy either, since our minds are programmed to want. So maybe it is all about picking which temptation to give in to. Maybe we should really just try to figure out which one has the most positive and long-lasting effect – both physically and emotionally.
So keeping that in mind I think it is time to ignore that beckoning book and head out into the grey world and find another temptation to give in to.