Are You an Abstainer or a Moderator?

by Seattle Soccer Mom

Gretchen Rubin (author of several books and creator of the blog “The Happiness Project”) shared a way of thinking about yourself that I’ve found very helpful: are you an abstainer or a moderator?

From her blog:

When dealing with temptation, I often see the advice, “Be moderate. Don’t have ice cream every night, but if you try to deny yourself altogether, you’ll fall off the wagon. Allow yourself to have the occasional treat, it will help you stick to your plan.”

I’ve come to believe that this is good advice for some people: the “moderators.” They do better when they avoid absolutes and strict rules.

For a long time, I kept trying this strategy of moderation–and failing. Then I read a line from Samuel Johnson, who said, when someone offered him wine: “Abstinence is as easy to me as temperance would be difficult.”

Ah ha! Like Dr. Johnson, I’m an “abstainer.”

I find it far easier to give something up altogether than to indulge moderately. When I admitted to myself that I was eating my favorite frozen yogurt treat very often–two and even three times a day–I gave it up cold turkey. That was far easier for me to do than to eat it twice a week. If I try to be moderate, I exhaust myself debating, “Today, tomorrow?” “Does this time ‘count’?” “Don’t I deserve this?” etc. If I never do something, it requires no self-control for me; if I do something sometimes, it requires enormous self-control.

There’s no right way or wrong way–it’s just a matter of knowing which strategy works better for you. If moderators try to abstain, they feel trapped and rebellious. If abstainers try to be moderate, they spend a lot of precious energy justifying why they should go ahead and indulge.

Like Gretchen Rubin, I fall into the abstainer category.  I wish I was the kind of person who could eat a square or two of chocolate (DH is like this) – but I eat the whole chocolate bar.  Several chocolate bars.  All the chocolate bars.  It’s easier for me to skip chocolate entirely than to be moderate about it.  For the last 2 months, I’ve really tried to eliminate carbs and sugar (except those in fruit/vegetables) from my diet. This has been easier for me than trying to be moderate in my consumption of carbs and sugar.

Fellow totebaggers, are you a moderator or an abstainer?  There’s a quiz you can take at The Happiness Blog to help you think through this question:  Back by Popular Demand: Are You an Abstainer or a Moderator?

Friday Fun: Handmade

by Louise

Hello Totebaggers – do you or does anyone in your family do any arts or crafts? This can include anything from knitting to wood work. A while ago when going through some stressful times, I took up knitting. I had learnt to knit in school and I remembered the basics. Knitting and spending time among knitters brought me great comfort. Do you pursue an arty or crafty hobby? How did you get started? Any gift ideas for beginners (Christmas is coming, looking for ideas for artsy daughter).

Since my day, YouTube videos have made it easier to do crafty projects.

Coffee Talk: Some Harsh Truths About Love, Marriage, and Career

by Grace aka costofcollege

Straight men of all ages tend to have their romantic sights set on women in their mid-twenties, while women prefer men who are about the same age as they are, according to a new study.

A picture is worth a thousand words, or make that two pictures from OKCupid’s data.  (Click images to see details.)

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And we can count on Penelope Trunk to add her unfiltered perspective on how 20-something women should take advantage of their strengths.

… Now it’s pretty well understood by women that it’s easier to get stuff done in the office when everyone wants to have sex with you. There is even science to back up the recommendation that women should flirt at work to get ahead….

What’s your take on these gender differences that affect love, marriage, and career?  Do you disagree?  And what advice would you give your children?

Ask The Totebag: Travel Tips

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

What are your best travel tips? These could be divided into “leisure travel” and “business travel”. Ideally, Rhett would write an entire essay on the subject of business travel. What are the best “points” programs? Which are the best hotel chains, and why? What do you always remember to bring on the airplane to help save your sanity? When I used to travel for business, my non-profit made me stay at horrible dumps, so I at least tried to stay at horrible dumps that were off the highway so I could run in the mornings.

My few answers: always bring a shawl/big scarf on the plane to keep warm. Try to find a hotel that has a fitness facility consisting of more than one broken exercise bike. My guilty pleasure: if I have time on business trips, I liked to take a dopey Grey Line (or similar) bus tour of the area. This actually worked out really well in Victoria, B.C., and I had a great time and got to chat with interesting people.  Oh, I NEVER just pack a carry-on. I always spill on or otherwise ruin my clothes, so I take half my closet.

Over to you, Totebaggers!

Coffee Talk: Are Our Online Conversations Keeping Us Healthy?

by Honolulu Mother

“The linked Atlantic article discusses (in between meandering observations) some recent research suggesting that people physiologically react to online social interaction the same way as to in person social interaction, including raising oxytocin levels and lowering stress hormone levels.  (N.B. — Totebaggers who dislike meandering observations should skip straight to the sixth paragraph.  The first five have a meandering anecdote about Baudrillard and a strained bridge to the topic, which you won’t want to read.  You know who you are.)

Online Relationships Are Real

Does that “feel” right to you?  Since the Totebag substitutes for a lot of my water cooler chat, I’m inclined to give some credence to the idea.

Let’s talk electronics

by Finn

Totebaggers, it’s been some time since we’ve had a discussion about personal electronics — phones, tablets, phablets, and even netbooks or laptops.  A lot has happened since our last discussion, and I’m sure we have collectively had a lot of experience with these devices since our last discussion.

So let’s discuss.  What devices do you use, and what do you like and dislike about them?  For what do you use them?  If you were buying something now, what would you buy, or what would you look for, or at?