Let’s face it — this is the decade of bingeing. We binge drink, binge-watch T.V. shows, and binge eat. The worst part is that we justify our bingeing activities with meme humor. Someone else has made a joke about it, so now it’s relate-able. It shows us that we’re not the only ones engaging in this behavior, and this makes us feel like it’s much more acceptable.
What exactly does it mean, though? ‘To binge’ means indulging in something excessively. A little indulgence never hurt anyone, right?
That’s true, but ‘bingeing’ isn’t just a little indulging. It’s excessive indulging, and too much of anything is not good.
Moderation is key, as you’ve probably heard many people say. It’s true — with relationships, with dieting, with socializing, and with work. In love, extreme feelings bordering obsession and high levels of infatuation often stem from ‘unrequited love’ scenarios. Have you ever noticed how the happiest couples seem to mirror a mutual level of affection for one another? Often times, people feeling the extremes of love are either too fixated on their beloved, or they’re completely uninterested.
Socializing requires a kind of balance, too. Talking about yourself too much can leave the other person feeling undervalued and uninterested. They’ll feel more like your therapist than a friend. On the other hand, only asking them questions and never having anything to say in return can leave them feeling like you’re their therapist, or like you’re interrogating them.
Psychologists have “found strong evidence that moderation also gets results on the job,” Carlin Flora writes in a Psychology Today article “Moderation is the Key to Life”. It’s commonly thought that successful people work much harder than most, but that’s not entirely true.
Most of them just work smarter. They figure out what works instead of continually trying to force something that simply doesn’t. Of course, hard work is still necessary, but it’s been shown that productivity actually increases with the moderation of work and down time.
“Social interaction has been shown to boost mood and get people thinking in new directions and in ways that could enhance any post-lunch effort,” Flora writes.
There’s actually lots of evidence that shows the importance of moderation.
“And yet, our culture valorizes extremes. ‘You can never be too rich or too thin’ is a persistent message. People are no longer capable of watching just one favorite TV show; they binge on whole seasons at a time, forgoing sleep and other basic needs.”
Well, that’s exactly the point. So how do we thrive amidst a society so accepting of bingeing behavior? How do we overcome this unhealthy habit in order to uncover the best version of ourselves? Do we really want to spend all our free time eating and drinking too much, or watching too much Netflix, only to hate ourselves the next morning before continuing the cycle all over again in response to those very same negative feelings it caused in the first place? How do we rise above these habits and start achieving our goals?
“A key to moderation is not becoming fixated on one part of life but, instead, taking a big-picture view so that assessing your overall balance of priorities is possible,” Flora says.
Do a big-picture assessment. This could be making a goals list, or even drawing up a whole vision board for your life. Organize actual plans for getting somewhere with your goals. Ask yourself if you’re making any kind of progress with the habits you have today. If not, make the necessary changes for tomorrow’s habits.
A lot of bingeing behavior could result from procrastination, or avoiding something else you know you should be doing. A lot of procrastination stems from negative feelings regarding one’s self around a particular task, and as I’ve discussed in “How to Stop Needing Instant Gratification”, these negative connotations are often experienced when we don’t find the instant positive reinforcement and satisfaction we instinctively desire from completing the task.
Through research, I found some pretty good ideas of getting past those feelings, which can help to combat bingeing habits as well. One pertained to minimizing the amount of work in our heads so that our goals seem less overwhelming. When we have large projects that aren’t easily or quickly completed, it’s easy to want to ‘put it off’ for the time being, i.e. procrastinating.
Instead, focusing on only the very next step, and even tricking our minds into thinking that next step is the only one we have to do, we’ll feel less intimidated by the looming project or task. This will ultimately lead to less procrastination and more productivity.
Yoga is also a great practice that will help you work toward balance in all aspects of life. As a yoga teacher, I will always recommend yoga and meditation as self-improvement methods because I truly believe in their transformational powers.
Watching some Netflix is okay. Indulging in junk food every now and then is normal, but maintain consciousness. Be very aware of how your actions truly affect your life in the long run. Recognize that to induce change, you must first create change within your own habits.
Despite our current binge-happy society, we can still thrive in the pursuit of success and happiness.
“Moderation is the balance of life.” — Frank Sonnenburg