A Diet Lesson That Comes from a Greek Tragedy
When all else fails, turn to Odysseus to help you kick your craving. "The other day, I had a breakthrough [about my sugar habit]. When [my wife] got home, I asked her for a favor. 'If I have another dried mango this month, I want you to donate a thousand dollars of my money to the American Nazi Party.' 'The Nazi Party? Why not Oxfam?' 'That's not enough of a disincentive. I want something that will make me sick to my stomach.' ... This is what's known as an Odysseus Contract. In The Odyssey, our crafty hero demanded that his sailors tie him to the mast so that he wouldn't take a dive off the starboard side when he heard the alluring singing of the Sirens. You shouldn't trust your future self. Prepare for his or her weaknesses. Thank God for Odysseus. Because let me tell you: this strategy is one of the most effective I've ever encountered. I haven't eaten a dried mango in two weeks. I still open the cabinet, see those slices, and get a few drops of Pavlovian saliva. But there's no way I'm going to put one in my mouth."