Siddhartha found and then spent his life teaching The Middle Way. To all of us non-enlightened beings, The Middle Way, basically, is riding out life in the center of extremes instead of adhering ourselves to one or the other.
Siddhartha came to The Middle Way through years of causing himself to suffer. He tortured his body with starvation and deprivation. He lived an ascetic life, denying himself all pleasure. For many years, he was convinced that this was the best way to live.
Lucky for him, and his followers, he put some rice in his belly and discovered what we know now: skipping breakfast makes for an undernourished body and mind.
No matter your belief system, The Middle Way is a wise way for a full and happy life. We can apply it to most areas of life. Don’t gorge yourself on food, but don’t starve yourself either. Don’t visit the pub every night, but don’t stay completely away. Don’t keep twenty cats in your home, maybe just two.
With all of the habits, vices, and conveniences, overindulgence and even under indulgence is too common amongst us.
There are some instances in which extreme is good (never smoking another cigarette) or at the very worst a harmless matter of taste (full body tattoos). Mostly though, our lives could benefit from us easing up on the extremes.
Finding moderation is easier said than done, right? Yep, as are most things. Assuming you don’t have a condition that requires professional attention, you can make the choice. With everyday things, cookies, video games, lip balm, calling your mom, or going to the dentist, you have the power. Enjoy but don’t obsess. Do just enough but don’t totally avoid. Really. If we can find The Middle Way, we can live happy, balanced lives.
Even when it comes to changing our ways, we should follow the middle way. Don’t try to do it all at once. Change one thing at a time. Look for the areas in your life where you tend to drift toward an extreme. Pick one thing and do it a little less, or a little more.
Say you have an obsession that drives you to scrub your toilet three times a day. Try swirling the brush around twice a day instead. From there, slowly whittle down your toilet-polishing time to what is necessary, not obsessive. There, that feels better. On the other hand, perhaps you rarely, if ever, clean the toilet, ooh funky. Invest in a tank tablet.
Goldilocks knew what was up. For her, nothing too hard, soft, cold, hot, big, or small. Everything was just right.
I recommend getting as close to The Middle Way in as many areas of your life as possible. Learn to recognize when the road crowns you over to one side or the other, and then correct your course. You may find yourself a healthier, happier person at peace with the fullness and balance of life.