Strength is the ability to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands and then eat just one of those pieces. – Judith Viorst
What does that mean?
This quote is not about the strength of our arms or of our backs. This quote, when speaking of strength is speaking of restraint and the strength of will.
The quote specifically mentions the ability to break a chocolate bar into pieces. For most people and most chocolate bars, that isn’t really a feat of strength.
But the strength required to eat just one of them, and leave the other three for a later time or for other people, that shows restraint, and the strength of will to choose to not do something.
Whether you share or delay, it is by strength of will and our determination to decide to show restraint, and then carry out that action without fail.
Why is the strength of restraint important?
Usually we think of restraint as being an outside force. Whether that is because we have so little that it’s the only way restraint happens, or whether it is so natural that we do it and consider it normal, the ability to show restraint is a very useful skill to have.
If we show no restraint at all, others will do it for us. Whether it is our friends and family talking us out of doing something stupid, or the police restraining us after we have done it, restraint is part of our lives. When we can do so from within, we are that much better off than if it must come from outside.
What happens if we were getting ready to do something stupid and no one was there to stop us? Sometimes it’s words instead of deeds where restraint is better advised. People can say some pretty silly, stupid, and even damaging things when they are not able to show the strength of self-restraint.
Those who have the strength of self-restraint, the strength of will, to choose and stick to that choice despite temptation and desire, have a powerful tool in their lives. Being able to say “No” when no is the proper thing, even if you want it badly, is a wonderful feeling and very rewarding.
Where can I apply this in my life?
For me, chocolate is a terrible weakness. While intellectually it is easy to say that I would leave the other three pieces of chocolate behind, in reality, I probably would not. I might walk away once, or even twice, but eventually, I would find myself standing before the three remaining chunks, arguing and justifying my behavior, and then eating them.
It’s ok to have a weakness, and to fail from time to time. That’s just human nature. But what is dangerous is when we either don’t know we lack the strength to restrain our desires, or when we lie to ourselves about our ability to show restraint. That is when we are at our most vulnerable.
What if someone knew of our weakness, in my case, for chocolate? If they wanted something and knew I couldn’t say no to chocolate, they could exert quite a bit of leverage just by waving some chocolate in front of me. Would that influence my decision making process? Yes, somewhat. And that’s the problem.
What are some of your weaknesses? No, you don’t have to tell me or anyone else. But you do have to know them and acknowledge them to yourself. To hide from them, to ignore them, to pretend they don’t exist, that is asking for trouble, for it is likely that somehow, in some way, they will present themselves at the time when we are weakest or most vulnerable.
Then what? How do you suddenly develop strength where none was before? If what you are tempted to do is sufficiently abhorrent, so as to more than counterbalance your desires, you probably won’t do it. I wouldn’t hit someone for a bar of chocolate, that’s just not something I would do, and the chocolate wouldn’t be a sufficient enticement.
In short, learning self-restraint is a habit. Like all habits, new ones are woven one thread at a time. Pick something easy, and do it. Stick to it. Remind yourself that this is a test, and that you can and will pass it. It’s something you can do, and will successfully complete.
Old habits can be broken either by slowly breaking them down, declining to do the undesired behavior more and more often, until it is easily terminated. But that in itself requires you to have the strength to reduce or eliminate the desire, since you will still know how to it and have the skill to do it. All that remains is the desire. And that requires strength.
What is one small thing you can do to build your strength, your ability to show restraint? To what temptation can you Say no? What can you do to build the new habit and reduce the old one of giving in to temptation?
It’s your life, and your temptation. What are you willing to do to improve your life, and control when you say yes, and when you say no? Having the strength to say no does not mean you have to always use it.
Strength is the ability to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands and then eat just one of those pieces.
From: Twitter, @Fit_Motivator
confirmed at : As she is an author of note, I have been unable to source an interview or book passage for this quote, but thought it too interesting to pass up.
photo by Olga Filonenko