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What makes it easier to resist temptation: a proper bringing up, a sound set of values, or witnesses?

A single indiscretion can ruin the reputation of a lifetime. Sometimes it is our reputation, sometimes it is the family name. Other times it is our business, or our employer's business. Which of the three factors above help you to resist temptation, and thus keep a clean reputation.

Here are some quotes to inspire you:

"Lead me not into temptation: I can find the way myself." Rita Mae Brown

"Most people want to be delivered from temptation, but would like it to keep in touch." Robert Orben

"Reputation is character minus what you've been caught doing." Michael Lapoce, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Boardroom

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Closing Statement from W T

First of all, I was inspired to ask this question after coming across the following quote:

"Nothing makes it easier to resist temptation than a proper bringing up, a sound set of values, and witnesses."
-----Franklin P. Jones

After reading all the comments it is interesting that some realized that it is a combination of factors that help us resist temptations. Some feared revealing what they found tempting. Others expressed that it is natural to yield to temptation, since it is difficult not to.

Temptations are really different for everyone. It is a personal thing. I am not tempted by certain things that my friends struggle with daily. It is not a matter of control, it is a matter of desires of the heart. I desire one thing, they desire something else.

It would have been nice to get more insight. But alas, the talk fell by the wayside and not too many saw it.

Well, perhaps in the future we can discuss this topic again.

Thank you for participating.

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    Feb 2 2012: What if tempation is a good thing in good people, but a bad thing in the truly evil... and temptation itself is just getting a bad rap?
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      Feb 3 2012: David.....this sounds like a great question for a new conversation...lol

      You couldn't resist the temptation to play devil's advocate huh??

      :) Mary
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    Feb 1 2012: Why are there temptations in the first place? We only get a temptation if we have a love for something. Don't care means no temptation.

    My belief is that we do get tempted so we can built a character. This is the only reason, and result, for living in this world, our character. But the only time our character changes is when we win over the temptation in freedom. Only then does it become part of us and stays.
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      Feb 3 2012: Hi Adriaan, Yes I agree, a temptation is present when we have a love for something.

      So Adriaan, how do you resist temptation? Do you talk yourself out of it? Have you made a habit of living up to your beliefs and no longer see temptations are threatening?

      I am curious to know.

      I think that today many young people feel the remorse from giving in to temptations and they just don't know how to stop themselves. I am hoping to find some tangible way of reasoning with let's say, teenagers and young adults.

      Any ideas??
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        Feb 3 2012: Hi Mary, the reason for starting this debate, I think, is angelic! You impersonate the quote by Swedenborg "We are not born for the sake of ourselves, but for the sake of others"

        Well I am helped in resisting temptations by 'knowing' the system :) In a way, yes I talk myself out of it because I do know what the cause of temptation is and what the result will be.
        The more we accept the fact that we are spirits, living in a spiritual environment, and that the 'physical' situations we find ourselves in are only the effect of that other environment.
        We do not own the thoughts that pop into our minds, they are not us. How we react to them, that is how and who we are.

        I've told this story before but some time ago I walked to work and had an envelope with a letter and money, in my pocket to send to our grandkids. Arriving at the post office the thought struck me, what if I took the money our and keep it,,AHA no one would be the wiser and I would be so much richer..
        My reaction to that thought was literally a chuckle and the thought 'Get Lost you idiot!!' That last thought was not aimed at me because that temptation was not me talking to myself. That was someone outside of myself, also a spirit (but a bad one) that did the suggesting.
        I saw this as an opportunity for my character to be bettered and strengthened.

        As soon as we realize it is not US that tempt us but those outside of us, we've got it made. Well, kind of :)
        You may find a lot more stuff on my website http://webhome.idirect.com/~abraam/
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          Feb 3 2012: Thank you very much Adriaan for your insights as to how you fight off temptation.

          Here is a quote to go with your Swedenborg quote: "It is only by spending oneself that one becomes rich".

          I find that I get much pleasure by discovering new things and quickly spreading the information far and wide.....I am a conduit......thanks again.

          Mary
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    Jan 31 2012: A set of values, which can be brought about by a proper rearing, will stand a person well in resisting negative temptation.

    If you have to have witnesses to keep you on the right path, you are not really resisting temptation, you're just asking temptation to meet you 'round back after your witnesses go home.
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      Jan 31 2012: Don't you think that having witnesses can be helpful at times?

      For example, at school, if one has friends with the same proper rearing as oneself, one could face temptation with a little help from one's friends. Don't you think?

      "The unity of the flock helps the lion to go home hungry" African proverb
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        Feb 1 2012: I agree that witnesses can be helpful, especially when they are friends trying to help us stay on the right path. It's just that when a person relies on outside opinions to stay away from negative actions (temptation), then they are not relying on their own strength to resist. A core value system is actually much stronger.

        Reminds me of a phrase a pastor once said: you are what you do when nobody's watching. Who you are in front of people is only the person you want them to think you are.

        But definitely,if we've got friends to edify us (and good parental examples) then that goes a long way to help us build and cement those core values.
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          Feb 3 2012: I have found, and of course I mention it to you because you have faith, that many young people live a kind of double life.

          They live one in front of their "church family", and another at school.

          It has been my experience that it is the home environment that mostly helps young people face temptations successfully.

          They are faced with so many temptations: drugs, alcohol, cheating on tests, etc...peer pressure is very hard. Learning good strategies to face temptations from an early age is important.

          And I agree Verble, a core value system is very strong.

          Thanks for your contributions.
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    Jan 29 2012: It is difficult to resist temptation. I believe we are talking about the temptation with negative connotations in here. So one needs to have a good education and a bringing up with values in order to decide not necesarrily avoid it. After all every situation is unique and depends on many constraints.
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      Jan 31 2012: "Every situation is unique and depends on many constraints".. Well argued

      Why do you say it is difficult to resist temptation?

      And, I chose the word temptation for the sake of using a word that implied having to choose between what is right or wrong at any one point in one's life. It doesn't necessarily have to be negative.

      What do you think?
  • Jan 29 2012: It seems to me, options 1 and 2 are closely related. It is rare to see people able to shake off their upbringing and grow irrespective of it. #3 would mostly depend on how much the general public has an impact on your goals. To generalize everyone and say ignoring #3 builds character is dismissive of the realities of life. If you wish to run for public office, for example, disclosure of treatment at a mental hospital to recover from an illness could be seen by many as a weakness rather than an ability to do what is necessary. It is often the case the outcome of #3 is out of your hands to begin with, so that excludes it as a choice from the start.

    I would argue critical thinking is what best decides whether a temptation is even bad for you. Your question infers all temptations are evil, when this is hardly the case. You crave food when you are hungry, sex for reproduction, learning for mental exercise and activity for physical exercise. Many temptations can benefit you in numerous ways and hurt you in others. It is not a general world and peoples' choices determine their own happiness, yet influence the happiness of others. You may find a comforting release in watching television where I would consider it punishment.

    If you were to look at temptations which cause harm to others, then critical thinking would also be the only requirement to avoid such actions as well. If you would not like to be harmed by others, it stands to reason harming others is not a desired outcome. No rules, witnesses, peer pressure or family upbringing are required when you can determine the consequences of an action on your own.

    The golden rule is not simply a rule, but a logical conclusion based on objective criteria; a conclusion which makes rules #1, #2 and #3 immaterial. The difficulty comes when others do not exercise their own critical thinking and react according to arbitrary beliefs and dogma. Whether you care how others react is a matter of your own priorities and goals.
  • Jan 29 2012: A large percentage of the TED conversations are in some way related to human relationships. For your topic here, could we say, do whatever your thoughts tell you regardless of what anyone else says or feels or whatever happens to others? Yes, a person could do that, but what of relationships with others? If we can do anything we want, then why should anyone feel guilty about any indiscretion?

    Yes, a person could have momentary indiscretion; we are not perfect. If a person alters behavior just to avoid getting caught to protect against criticism or ridicule, then one is mostly a coward. But if he avoids trouble by loving and caring for persons, then he builds character---the kind that is attractive and makes for friends.

    Relationships do matter and the higher the quality, the less we have to concern ourselves with doing wrong acts. An honest person does not need a lock on a door.

    If relationships are not important, then why do thieves work in the dark, in hiding, with deception and falsehoods? Then again, some openly steal with no remorse. Either way, relationships are damaged.

    It is better for all if we love one another. If we make mistakes, then realize the errors, correct them and make amends, and learn. Wisdom comes from error; the ability of choice is a gift.

    We'd be smart to live as though we want to do nothing that would shame us if caught.
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      Jan 31 2012: Mark, what wonderful reflections. I wholeheartedly agree with them.

      I think most of us feel the tug that shame has on our integrity muscles. The sad part is, that once we succumb to temptation, and get away with it over and over, after a while, it is no longer a temptation, it has become a way of life for us......hence we make a reputation for ourselves.

      Quote: "It is better for all if we love one another. If we make mistakes, then realize the errors, correct them and make amends, and learn. Wisdom comes from error; the ability of choice is a gift."

      This reminded me of something I read in a book by Joan Lunden:

      "Before we speak or act, it is better to stop and ask ourselves, "Are we going to create anger and unhappiness or are we going to promote peace and understanding?" It is our choice how we react. And it is usually the reply that causes the trouble."

      Thanks for contributing!
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    Feb 10 2012: What are you tempted by????

    Is a certain kind of food tempting?

    Is using profanity tempting?

    Is losing your composure tempting?

    If anyone has any additional thoughts feel free to chime in.

    Be Well.
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      Jan 30 2012: Hi Mr Hicks,

      Well, you know the answer better than me. I'll give you an example. I love butter, I eat butter. My husband loves butter, his face doesn't. So, every time I bake bread and put butter on the table, I enjoy it, and so do the kids, with lots of butter.....in the meantime, my husband is struggling with the temptation of eating butter, because he'll have to deal with the consequences of it's after effects.

      Temptations are kind of personal........I hope my illustration help you come up with a good contribution Mr. Hicks. You do not have to be specific....just explain what keeps you from doing something that you know is not right "in your own eyes", what influences you?

      Have a great day!
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          Jan 31 2012: Hi Mr. Hicks,

          Thank you for your contribution.