There are many acronyms that give us great clues in our journey toward wisdom, a.k.a. living better. This one is particularly special in that it helps us live a less confused life when hunger, moods, loneliness and tiredness set in. H.A.L.T. means:
H – Hungry
A – Angry
L – Lonely
T – Tired
The key thing in this, for me personally, is not so much when one of these issues crowds into our personal space—it’s when two or more, or worse, when all four of them collude to smash our sense of purpose, hope and spiritual freedom. That’s the watch point.
Most of us can be completely and unknowingly swept away on a tide insidiously of the H.A.L.T. means.
We get hungry and we eat anything in sight, many times with vagrant self control. Or we enter into conflict with someone, without remaining aware, and we begin to lose our emotional composure, anger threatening. Perhaps we just feel lonely—we all feel lonely from time to time. Tiredness is something most people battle with, more and more these days if you believe demographical statistics. (One hundred years ago, for instance, people generally slept 8-10 hours a day; these days we get by on 5-7. Seven and a half to eight hours sleep per night is our optimum.)
These above can be one of many ways we’re also spiritually attacked, knocking us clear off centre. We, therefore, should always attend to the antecedents of a healthy life to ward against them.
Now, weave two or more of these into your mind at the same time—impinging on our spirit’s peace—and we have instantly the makings of cognitive chaos, spiralling downward with manifestly bedraggled emotion.
A New Plan – Pack on Some Resilience a.k.a. ‘Mental Toughness’
None of us can truly contend with such a chaotic inner world for long, but much like brain-training we can increase our resilience—much like the elite soldier does. As well we can avoid the stimulus to H.A.L.T. in the first place, as it applies—this being the very best wisdom; prevention better than cure.
Fasting is one way we not only bow before God in sacrificial prayer, but it’s also a discipline, testing our spiritual resolve.
I used to get cranky when I fasted. That was until some in my family let me know. I couldn’t engage in something for God and upset people in the process, so I had to change my approach—I had to become stronger mentally.
When we’re hungry and tired, for instance, our reserves are typically low... anger is not far away, and hence also loneliness, when we’ve beaten everyone off!
If we fast, we fast with intention. We consciously acknowledge the negative power of H.A.L.T. and we then continuously measure and check our feelings and thoughts, and therefore our responses. It’s not easy. To focus continually draws even more energy from an already sugar-depleted brain. Getting to be mentally stronger is never easy—but it is achievable. We can only do this if we’re living a day/moment at a time. I feel it’s impossible otherwise.
Let’s remember that beyond a ‘healthy, wholesome discipline’ as far as training is concerned—remembering that training’s purpose is not to break us, but to prepare us—we’re to avoid the H.A.L.T.’s.
We plan life well so we’re appropriately rested, fed and not anguished, and that we have sufficient friendship and social mixing time (including, fundamentally, our fellowship with God) so that we don’t feel lonely. This is chiefly the heart of wisdom living.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.