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A virtue is a quality that every human being displays when we are at our best. Remember, in an earlier chapter, when I asked you to imagine your Whole, Healed, Godly, Grace-filled self? All the good qualities you imagined this version of yourself possessing are virtues. Whenever a mood enhancer becomes beyond your control it turns into an addiction. A person is addicted when he or she relinquishes their choice to engage or to refrain. When the addiction dictates what you do, when you do it, and to what degree, then you are at its mercy. Choice is a process whereby you examine all the alternatives, and select freely exactly what you want. Choice is informed, aware, deliberate, and conscious. When you operate from choice, you have examined the alternatives, the ramifications, and the consequences of your actions, and you are senior to any substance or process that attempts to control you. Addicts relinquish their choices. It is significant to note that from Jesus to Buddha, to Lao Tse and Mohamed, and countless other renowned teachers of the ages (as well as many recent scientific studies) put forth many of the same essential philosophies of life. One is that happiness is not determined by your external circumstances. Each one taught that (I'm using modern metaphors) you have access to an internal technology that is available at any time, but you must choose to switch it on. Socrates is credited for the simple yet pinnacle ethos, "Know thyself." Self-awareness through self-study is a prerequisite teaching of nearly all of the master teachers. There are many methods of self-study, from working with a skilled therapist to contemplative meditation; there are many highly useful techniques. But one of the most rapid methods to reveal your blind side is by asking yourself high-level, illuminating questions, studying your own answers, and then, empowered by your new knowledge, taking action. Barry would need strategies to make this PIM work for him and he doesn't seem to have any. He just tries harder, which is not a strategy. If we leave a reminder on the door for an ongoing thing-"Be sure to lock the door." - then after a few days we won't see it. Our brain accommodates and it becomes invisible.

The note on the door only works for a today thing-"Carry out the garbage today"-so that it's novel, and it's not supposed to be there, and we notice it. Of course, then we still need to make ourselves carry out the garbage, but it's a good start. But Barry has had this PIM program for years; these pop-ups and alarms are not new to him. Probably when he first got this program he was enthusiastic and spent a lot of time setting it up the way he wanted it. I bet that it worked well, for a while. Here, this guiding virtue involves allowing others to exercise their own autonomy and discretion instead of trying to control them, even if you mean it for their own good or the good of others. In this context, prudence involves knowing your own limits of control and how to work within them to effect positive change, including avoiding harm to others or to yourself. The attainment of each of these guiding virtues has been the subject of much philosophical reflection in the history of ideas. So what wisdom of the sages can be gleaned to help you attain them? You can only fully control your own actions and responses. You cannot fully control other people's actions, or the conditions under which they act. Other people have their own minds, and what you think should or must be often does not happen. Thus when you try to control other people's actions, or the conditions under which they act, you set yourself up for lamentation, perturbation, fault-finding, feeling hindered, and many other forms of discontent. So what? How does a list of adjectives exemplified by some imaginary vision of ourselves help us in any practical way? Because it tricks your mind into thinking that you are giving advice to someone else. Our advice to others is almost always clearer, more rational, and more solution-focused than the advice we give ourselves. According to research published in the journal Psychological Science, when you cultivate a virtue-based approach to problem-solving, you are able to give yourself the same kinds of healthy, objective advice you give to others. Addictions have become a part of our daily lives as a way to cope with stress. These uncontrollable cravings for substances, activities, persons, places, and things are compulsive, repetitious, involve loss of control, and are continued despite adverse consequences.

Virtually anything or anyone can become an addiction. Remember, the addictive personality originates from the dysfunctional home. Trish wanted to discuss her Reese's addiction. Since it was now within her control, it was a good time for her to look underneath her addictive behavior, to understand it so that when the next attack occurred she would be prepare and know exactly what to do. What is a high-level question? A high-level question is one that generates high-level thinking, which will then engender a high-level answer. This is a technique successfully utilized by teachers through the ages, from Zen Buddhist and Sufi teachers to Anthony Robbins, yet is sadly one of the most underutilized transformational techniques. I am now going to lead you through a series of questions, and I want you to answer them in a particular way. For this to work, you must follow my directions exactly. What you will have in your hands at the end of the exercise is what I call "the book of your life." But now the PIM is repetitive and familiar and not new. Also, it's both too much and it's not enough. Maybe this program is the only strategy for daily living that Barry has, except for one calendar. And it's all there on that computer. He doesn't put notes on his phone, or use cards, or have an appointment book. So the computer becomes routine and familiar, maybe oppressive, and maybe overwhelming. Maybe it feels `bossy'. He has the pop-up notices, but he didn't talk about reviewing his schedule for the day, and doing it five times a day, or about reviewing his to-do list. Control perfectionists unrealistically attempt to control other people's actions or the conditions under which they act, creating needless stress. courage means realizing your limitations in controlling others and sticking to what is yours to control: your own actions.

The helicopter mom exercises courage when she lets go of trying to control how others treat her child and also gives him some age-appropriate autonomy (say, doing his own homework); the classical guitarist exercises courage when he focuses on his performance and not on what his audience thinks of it; and the young business executive exercises courage when he stops trying to control whether others are talking trash about him. As you reflect on these questions, remember that you don't have to believe that you have mastered patience, self-control, courage, or any other such quality. You are only looking for what virtues, objectively, you wish you could display more of. Also, don't focus solely on the qualities that would make you "nice" or try to convince yourself that the situation shouldn't be a problem. Focus on the qualities or virtues that would help you more effectively handle the problem in front of you. Here is a partial list of some excellent problem-solving virtues and qualities that can be very useful for handling anxiety-provoking situations. Feel free to either choose from these or use this list to inspire yourself to think of other helpful problem-solving virtues. "There is a chemical in chocolate called phenylethylamine or PEA, a mood enhancer which affects the brain in almost exactly the same way that falling in love feels. In other words, when you eat chocolate, you get the same calm, peaceful, dreamy feeling that you have when you fall in love," I explained. Where Do Addictions Originate? When you become addicted, you give away your power and become obsessed with something outside yourself. You believe "it" is the solution to your problems. Your focus becomes increasingly externalized. "It" becomes the thing that makes you feel good, and solves the immediate stress at hand. As an addiction develops, you begin to see it as a panacea to life's problems and your behavior becomes increasingly compulsive. You start to eliminate alternatives and become consumed by the main addiction. When other people become concerned, critical, or meddlesome, you deal with their responses to your behavior by camouflaging your activities. You start with vagueness, evolve to mild excuses and cover-ups, and eventually escalate your deception to bold-faced lies. When you lie, you need to remember what you lied about, and the stories take on a life of their own. One of the biggest risks is when you believe your own lies since you then start to blur reality.

When you are prepared and ready, you will answer these ten questions in the time frame that you are directed to, five minutes each. It would be possible to get lost in pondering these questions for weeks. But instead of engaging only the analytical part of your brain, you will be using many parts of your mind and even stored memory from your body. So, stay within the constructed time frame. You will set your timer to five minutes. Read the question and then press the start button on the timer. Then proceed to writing down the answer on the paper. When the timer goes off, stop. Go to the next question, and so on. What you write here will have as much power as the truth you give the answers. Be completely honest with yourself as you answer these questions, more honest than you have ever been in your life up to now. The answers to these central questions will not be found on Google. Answer in this way, and I guarantee that you will be rewarded with a new way of seeing your life. Aside from the computer, Barry keeps a paper weekly calendar and puts his appointments on it. This is another strategy. He keeps it in his briefcase, so he doesn't always have it with him. And he doesn't look at it very often. Still, he says he's fairly good at keeping those appointments, because they involve other people and he doesn't want to let them down. To exercise tolerance, Immanuel Kant tells us to respect others as rationally self-determining persons. As discussed in Chapter Three, Kant distinguishes between objects and persons; the latter can make their own decisions (Kant, 1964).