Our contemporary culture desires its affairs to be as expedient, as convenient and as streamlined as possible. Yet when it comes to knowing others, and knowing ourselves, expediency breeds superficiality. In effect, our love for expediency is making us strangers to one another, and strangers to ourselves.
Socrates once said that an unexamined life is not worth living. This isn’t the time or place to discuss the merits of that statement. But I can say this with certainty: an unexamined life is impossible to live faithfully and well.
One reason for this is that controlling our desires has everything to do with getting to know ourselves better, that is, understanding what people, situations, and substances give us problems, and what responses are effective in countering them.
A good way to begin practicing the examined life is to ask yourself what you’re feeling before you indulge your cravings. Our cravings are often the result of, and a superficial way of dealing with, some negative emotion.
This may be anger, depression, anxiety, boredom, loneliness, or any host of other emotions. Once you’ve identified the feeling behind the drive, you can more appropriately express or deal with it, instead of trying to ignore it by engaging in some appetite you think will make the feeling disappear.
When you learn to know yourself and express your feelings appropriately, your appetites can stop being emotional buffers and once again serve the purposes God intended them to serve.
- Steve Arterburn