Lately, I’ve been reading (and reviewing) self-help books, ones that offer advice on how to improve oneself. The title of this book caught my attention: Your Future Self Will Thank You. I have a love/hate relationship with my current self, so I’m not sure my future self would thank me for anything. More like a “thanks for nothing”. lol At any rate, I was curious (plus, it has a cute picture of a dog and cookies!). The overall subject matter of this book is temptations vs will power (or the lack thereof). And the examples the author uses help make something that could be so clinical (brain, chemistry, zzzzz) and helps apply it in a more personal or interesting way. With avoiding temptation and taking practical precautions, he uses the story of Odysseus when they are sailing through the area full of sirens. How can they avoid the temptation of the siren song? Odysseus takes a realistic look at his nature, accounts for his weakness (being unable to resist the song) and plans accordingly, thus the crew makes it safely to the other side. At the same time, the author shows another way to approach temptations. In the second approach to self-control, he uses the story of Jason and the Argonauts. While they sail through the sirens, instead of tying Jason to the mast and the crew putting beeswax in their ears, they employ a musician to play louder and more beautifully in order to drown out the song of the sirens. And it works.
The author doesn’t stick with just interesting myths and stories. He often shares the struggles Paul dealt with during his journies and quotes him often. For those familiar with the Bible, you’ll know the best know Paul quote regarding running the race. But one that I really liked (and looked up) was this one: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Romans 7:15. Isn’t that the way for a lot of us? We really want to improve. We want to exercise 3-5 days a week as recommended. We want to quit smoking or drinking. We want to break the sugar addition. We want to stop seeking out damaging relationships, or cheating on those who matter most in our lives. We want to control our anger. Yet, for all that we want to do, we find ourselves doing what we hate. And that throws us into a spiral of guilt and self-criticism.
“Future me” has more time, energy and will power. But in the heat of the moment, in the present day, that will power falters. So what to do about it? Avoid those “heat of the moments” such as getting more sleep and, as my doctor always recommends, avoid stress. Well, duh. I don’t have to have a medical license to figure out that stress isn’t good for my health. Thankfully, the author recognizes that this isn’t so easy. The thing is, I wish the rest of the world would have the foresight, the wisdom, and the compassion to recognize those hot states in others and learn to adapt to them. But no. Our society says, “It’s not my fault that you’re having a bad day. Deal with it on your own” as they cut you off on the freeway or in line at Starbucks. I try to make a point of it, when I’m in my “cool state” where I’m not as bothered by life, to recognize when someone else is struggling in their hot state, to be more understanding and compassionate regardless of their reaction. But how do I manage my own hot state when someone isn’t so understanding? Therein lies the challenge as well as the opportunity for self-control. The author provides really good insight into why we struggle to go from good intentions to actually meeting those goals (such as weight loss). I highly recommend this for anyone that wants to exercise and strengthen their self-control “muscle” but needs the knowledge to be better equipped to recognize falters and failings and to try, try again. I received a complimentary copy from Moody publisher in exchange for my review. The honest opinions and thoughts in this review are my own.