By Rick Kraft
Submitted to the Optic
Zig Zigler used to tell the story of a man in Alaska who had two dogs, a black one and a white one. Each week he would take his dogs to town and they would fight against each other. The locals would gamble by betting which dog they thought would win the battle that week and then make or lose money accordingly. Some nights the black dog would win and other nights the white one would succeed.
After years of people guessing which dog was going to win on any given night, one of the locals noticed a pattern that the owner of the dogs always seemed to bet on the winner. The local confronted the dog owner and asked how he always guessed correctly as to which dog would come out on top. The owner smiled and replied, “It’s easy, I always bet on the dog that I feed the week before.
And so it is in our lives. God made us with appetites. We each have a black dog and a white dog in our life and we decide which one we feed. We must recognize that whichever one is fed will dominate our life. Too often we feed the wrong appetite and then we get discontent because of it. In other words we do it to ourselves ... we are our own worst enemy.
Our appetites can lead to addictions. We all have addictions. Some addictions are shunned such as illegal drugs or abuse of alcohol. Others addictions are more accepted such as ones for food, power, or riches. Regardless, we all have appetites and the propensity to have addictions.
Our lives are lived feeding and denying appetites and determining whether or not our appetites will lead to addictions. I will come back to this.
Appetites are a given. That is the way God made us. Just as the white dog and the black dog had to be fed to live, we also have appetites that are essentials. Having an appetite is not a bad thing, like gravity, it just must be recognized and addressed.
The question comes back to “Which appetites do you feed and which do you deny?” We must feed at least minimally our appetite for food to remain on this planet. Yet we can choose to overfeed this appetite. We must feed the appetite to have material belongings to have shelter and clothing, yet we can choose to overfeed this appetite also.
We desire financial security, yet we have an appetite to enjoy life right now. We have an appetite that says, if I can take this item home now, why not do so and enjoy it right away? The creation of credit cards allow us to feed the here and now appetite for material things while pushing the consequences of feeding this appetite down the road.
We desire to have retirement in the later years of our existence, but to voluntarily put financial resources back for the future takes denying an appetite to satisfy the present. Minimizing immediate fulfilling of our material appetite can result in significant benefits in the years to come.
We have a desire to have a healthy marriage or healthy relationships with family members, yet each of our worlds rotate around ourself. We have a desire to fulfill our own selfish appetite to have our immediate needs taken care of, yet we can’t create or maintain healthy relationships with other family members without recognizing their appetites and denying ourselves.
There are appetites for spiritual connection, emotional affections, physical fulfillment, authority over others, sexual needs, rest, and the list goes on and on.
An immediate appetite that was fulfilled resulting in significant long term consequences can be read about in the Bible in Genesis chapter 25 when Esau sold his birthright to his younger twin brother Jacob for a bowl of stew. The bowl of stew was fulfilling Esau’s immediate gratification at the expense of giving up his valuable right to be recognized as firstborn with the authority, blessings, and significant inheritance that went along with it...all for a “pottage of lentils.”
I guess what I am saying is that each of us has the same appetites. God did this when He created us. Call it human nature. Each of us is a different mix of which appetites we fulfill and which ones we deny.
Over fulfilling an appetite leads to an addiction. An addiction to put oneself second and to serve and fulfill the needs of others may be a good addiction. An addiction to physically abuse others is obviously a bad addiction. But each addiction begins with us feeding an appetite.
Some people have an addiction to be wanted or to be needed. These people live their lives to please others and the measurement of their success in life is placed into the hands of what others think about them.
And the list of addictions goes on and on...
My challenge to you first is to recognize the appetites that you have. Accept them. They are programmed into you. Your parents likely played a key role in how you view your appetites at this stage of your life.
Second, assess if you are feeding the right appetites. You control you. You are the CEO of your life. If you are feeding appetites that you should not be feeding, don’t blame it on others, look inward. Change.
Third, after assessing your appetites, assess your addictions. Assess what dominates your mind and your decisions.
What you are addicted to will determine your years ahead. Understand that you can conquer or change your addictions.
Sometimes we need the help of others in managing our appetites or conquering our addictions, but any change in these areas begins from within.
Assess and then bring about change if you need to. You can do it, one choice at a time.
Just a thought....
Rick Kraft is a motivational speaker, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to P.O. Box 850, Roswell, New Mexico, 88202 - 0850.