GRANTED, it's not the ideal time to discuss willpower.
Cakes have been eaten, and New Year's resolutions have become such risible exercises in optimistic delusion that many citizens have resolved never to draw them up again.
But forget the time of year. Let's talk about your life. That's got you worried. Don't pretend to be reading the paper when I'm talking to you. It's time you got a grip. I'm speaking to you about – pause for parp of trumpets – self-control.
Many of you are fleeing for the exits, but you will find these locked. Listen, we'll all feel better for a little more resistance. You say: "Resistance? Speak plainly, man." All right, if I must. I mean resistance to fags, booze, cakes and idling.
That's right: you must cut down on the joys of life. Joy kills you. Blame Jehovah the Merciless. You say: "That's all very well, but what are we to do?" Well, you could peruse a forthcoming book called Maximum Willpower by Kelly McGonigal.
Disappointingly, it advocates exercise as essential to self-control. Someone at the back is weeping. Worse still, McGonigal also argues that eating, drinking, shopping, watching telly and surfing the net don't reduce stress. Instead, you should meditate, listen to music, go for a walk, or play sport. All of which have an irritating "goody-goody" aura about them.
It's human nature to enjoy things that are bad for us. But it can be satisfying to deny yourself too. On Christmas Eve, traditionally the most miserable time of the year, I sat for three hours with a large glass of whisky in front of me. I even raised it to my lips. But I resisted it. I had some Schloer instead. What am I? Correct, madam: sad. But joy, as I said, only ever leads to trouble.
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