*This is part of a series of articles covering virtues, and how they can help you live a better life. Part 3 can be found here.
Now I know what you're thinking, "how does the photo on this article connect to the article itself." Well, like this.
In part one of this series, I wrote about prudence, or, knowing and doing what is good. In part two of this series, I wrote about justice or giving people what they deserve or what they are due. In part three of this series, I wrote about fortitude, or the ability to to keep going in the face of adversity.
The first three Cardinal virtues deal with doing good, doing what is right, and continuing to do so no matter what.
The fourth part of this series covers the fourth and final Cardinal virtue, temperance.
So what is temperance?
Temperance is the virtue which moderates in us the inordinate desire for sensible pleasure, keeping it within the limits assigned by reason and faith.
In simpler terms, temperance is self-control. It's taking everything that you are, and reining it in to a controlled state.
The first three Cardinal virtues set the rules and goals of the journey, while temperance gives you the ability to stay on the path. Temperance keeps you from going to the extremes and losing sight of what you want to do. Fortitude can help you keeping moving forward, but temperance keeps you from going so far forward that you go straight of a cliff.
So how does temperance help you live a better life?
Temperance, or self-control, is critical to living a good life because having the ability to restrain yourself from doing things that are not good for your health, whether that is mental, physical, or spiritual health, will help you live a better, healthier life.
Basically, a strong understanding of temperance can keep you from doing something stupid, or simply keep you from overdoing something that isn't bad. Having a strong understanding of temperance can keep you from going 20 miles over the speed limit and getting a ticket or wrecking your car, but it can also help you drink and eat in moderation.
Too much of any one thing, whether that thing is good or bad, can be detrimental to you being your best self. Temperance is there to help you keep from going too far or too deep in any one thing.
So how do I gain temperance?
In simplest terms, you gain temperance through self-denial. The ability to tell yourself no is the most important aspect to gaining temperance because if you can't tell yourself no, then you'll never stop doing things that can be bad for you.
Temperance, just like fortitude, is all about mental toughness, and the ability to tell yourself no helps make you tougher. I think Vince Lombardi put it best when he said "Mental toughness is spartanism with qualities of sacrifice, self-denial, dedication. It is fearlessness, and it is love."
Lombardi kinda summarizes the Cardinal virtues in that quote, with sacrifice being similar to prudence and justice in the sense that you have to give up certain things to do what is good and right, self-denial being part of temperance in that you have to have things in moderation to be able to control yourself, and dedication being part of dedication in that people have to commit to be able to keep pushing forward.
Kinda fitting for one of the most well-known and devout Catholics in sports history.
Just like Lombardi, one of the the most successful coaches in football history, you too can find success through temperance. While restraining yourself and maintaining a strong sense of self-control may not seem fun, it means that much more when you actually succeed.
Not having a straw can suck sometimes, but saying no to that straw could mean saying yes to an animals life, so not having a straw can help you live a better life.