“Harlequin” by KSR

We have all been told repeatedly that the key to a good relationship is to understand clearly just what the other person wants. That sounds pretty easy, except that the other person frequently doesn’t know what the heck he really wants. This makes it difficult because all his wants then begin to contradict or compete with each other. This difficulty does not lessen the importance of understanding those wants. Husbands and wives have spent lifetimes trying to figure out just what makes the other one tick. Jane Austen said that “One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.”

No one likes to think they’re average, least of all below average. When asked by psychologists, most people rate themselves above average on all manner of measures including intelligence, looks, health, and so on. Self-control is no different; people consistently overestimate their ability to control themselves. This over-confidence can lead one to assume that they’ll be able to control themselves in situation in which it turns out, they can’t.

All of us have a finite amount of self-control we can exert each day. Self-control is difficult and energy depleting, and each time we exercise self-control during the course of a day, we have less remaining for later in that day–making us more susceptible to those habits we are trying to change. People naturally vary in the amount of self-control they have, so some will find it more difficult than others to break a habit.


Some studies have shown that it takes only 21 days to form a habit. I think it depends on the habit. So-called “good” habits probably take longer to form than do the “bad” ones. It would be interesting to know who came up with the 21 day number. Probably the same one who gave us the “5-second “rule for grabbing stuff off the floor after dropping it. Habit can be equated with New Year resolutions. How long has it taken most of us to break a few hastily made new habits this year? It’s better not to make any, thereby relieving yourself of a certain guilt trip.

We only have the capacity to focus on a limited number of things at a given moment, and sometimes when we concentrate on one thing, we are often completely blind to other things–even if it’s a woman dressed in a gorilla suit right in front of us. We need to form the habit of connectivity. At the end of the day, we all want the same thing. We want to be loved and be happy.

Author: kaytisweetlandrasmussen83

I am a retired fine arts teacher, sculptor/painter, writer, and a native Californian. I love my family,dogs, horses, movies, reading and music, probably in that order. I have been married forever to a very nice man who is nice to old ladies, dogs and children.


  1. As I was reading your article I was also thinking of my trip to Cabo on Saturday. This will help me will self control the rest of the week. I need to fit into that bathing suit.


  2. A thought provoking post. Self control is energy depleting. Loss of self control is a quality we don’t want to acknowledge: a shadow quality. I always feel delighted anticipation when a new post from you appears in my reader.


    1. Thank you for your kind words Mrs.Daffodil.  I like your description: “a shadow quality”.  It is interesting to me that some of us who have shown little self control in youth, become quite relaxed in their older years toward the same “trigger”. 



  3. The only thing worse to giving in to temptation is not to give into temptation. (G. O; 7-8-1940 Rotterdam) It always stood me by in times of misery and hopeless regrets not having done so. Thank you GO.


  4. That harlequin is just perfect. There goes the steady burro, off into the New Year, and there’s the reluctant harlequin, looking back with regret – no doubt at chocolate.

    I do think there’s some merit to the 21 day argument – although I think the 21 days is pretty arbitrary. But the point is true. We don’t develop any bad habits overnight, so we shouldn’t expect to change them overnight, either.

    One of the most reasonable things I ever heard (at least in terms of diet, chocolate, ice cream, Black Russians and cheese) is that we should stop with the complete denial and make better bad choices. Want ice cream? OK – but go for a smaller portion of truly good gelato instead of a pint of mediocre (which never is so satisfying). Need to HAVE that lasagne? Use 2% or skim milk cheese. And so on.

    I don’t know about being average, but I must say – there’s a good bit of happiness to be found in ordinary days, lived out in ordinary ways. I don’t mind being ordinary. If I was extraordinary I’d probably have to wear 4″ heels or keep French nails or something. It’s better this way!


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