Weekly Thought – December 20, 2022
Fred valued health in all areas of his life. Even as he was nearly immobile in the last years he refused to see himself as a victim of disease. When asked about his condition he responded “I am not disabled; I am delightfully dependent.” He encouraged others to find health through discipline, and good choices. He thought and talked much about the value of tension in life and how to best handle it.
Tension – The Two-Edged Sword
A scientist friend several years ago told me about charting results of experiments on tension he was doing. Because they were drawn on an axis they labeled them vertical and horizontal. The verticals were healthy, stretching to pull life together while the horizontals were those which they judged to pull life apart.
Selflessness is a vertical tension while selfishness is a harmful horizontal one. A sense of responsibility is very much vertical but a sense of rights is horizontal. Demanding rights pulls apart but focusing on responsibilities tends to laminate. Those people who have a high sense of responsibility are under very strong tension to accomplish in their area of responsibility. That tends to discipline our efforts. It controls our relationship even polices them, usually resulting in health.
When responsibilities are ignored and only rights are demanded trouble comes. I saw a young businessman start out feeling a tremendous feeling of responsibility to the employees, stockholders, and customers. The owner worked very hard with few adverse effects.
As success came he began thinking of personal gain exchanging the sense of responsibility for the rights owed. Soon he began to take excess amounts of money from the business, changed his lifestyle, and altered his approach to leadership. The very people he operated responsibly to serve (employees, stockholders, and customers) recognized his selfishness. Ultimately, his physical health betrayed his internal turmoil: ulcers, hypertension, and extra weight. The energy and excitement he initially from positive tension deteriorated into a negative condition.
Fortunately, we can decide to strive for a lifestyle which focuses on responsibilities rather than rights.
In America there is a superabundance of tension. The hopeful aspect of this is the availability of choice. With disciplined practice we can decide what kinds we want, in what areas, and in what amounts. We can build fences around our emotional health setting boundaries. Clearly, tension doesn’t work exactly like a smorgasbord, but for a man who enjoys eating the analogy has some appeal.
It is up to us to think carefully about ways to emphasize the vertical and reduce the horizontal. Operating from knowledge of ourselves and our situations gives us greater control over our emotions and many of the outcomes we experience.
This week think carefully about: 1) What is my ratio between vertical and horizontal tensions? 2) Which areas of my life are most troublesome? 3) How much time have I spent seriously considering my choice of responsibilities and rights?
Words of Wisdom: “Demanding rights pulls apart but focusing on responsibilities tends to laminate.”
Wisdom from the Word: “After pride came, disgrace followed; but wisdom came with humility.” (Proverbs 11:12 NET Bible)