I didn’t invent positive constraints. No way. Humans have been exploiting them for personal growth since the dawn of history. Religions, for example, use limits to bond their communities, distinguish themselves from others and show the strength of their faith in god or gods. Roman Catholic priests take a vow of celibacy (No Marriage) and many lay Christians promise No Sex before Marriage. Only in 1966 did Pope Paul VI relax rules on fasting to allow Catholics to eat meat on Fridays, causing a panic among the world’s commercial fishing concerns.
It is almost impossible for most breathing humans to resist noshing into a passing chocolate brownie sundae if one is dangled before their eyes. Willpower won’t work and we can’t lock all the chocolate brownie sundaes in the world into a cupboard (they’d all melt). No: the prospective follower of No Sugar (say) must re-mould their self-image and become that kind of person who doesn’t eat chocolate brownie sundaes, no matter how tempting they might be to others. There can be no struggle any longer: the chocolate brownie sundae is simply of no special interest. The difficulty, of course, is how to become that person.
Time: half eight. Location: bed. State of consciousness: awake, albeit reluctantly. Now what? My autopilot script is fall out of bed, stumble across the room, open the blinds and blink into the scarcely receding gloom of another miserable January morning in London. Everyone’s miserable before noon, that’s why they call it “the mourning”. Today, though, the autopilot script is going to be torn up and scattered to the incipient drizzle. Today, I will not walk – and that includes the stumbling shuffle that usually passes for locomotion before my legs have warmed up.