Now I don't have to tell you that the fixes listed above are bogus. But some of the quick fixes out there actually work, at least for awhile. Let me give you an example. A few years ago a medication called phen-fen was sold to the public. It had passed FDA inspection and looked like a great way to lose weight quickly and painlessly. And people did lose weight on it. Lots of weight. However, over time it became clear that a number of people also lost their health. This treatment was finally taken off the market for causing life- threatening pulmonary hypertension and heart valve damage in some patients. For them, this particular quick fix came at a high price.
How high a price are you willing to pay for a quick fix? When you feel pressured, stressed, angry, sad or just plain bored, what are you going to do about it? Will you go for fast relief, no matter what the cost? Will you be taken in by phony advertising? Or will you give it some time, find out everything you can, and think things through? One thing's for sure, there are plenty of choices out there—some that work great, some that don't work so great, and some that appear to do the job but have a big downside. Which kinds of choices will you make? What will you do when the pressure hits?
Well... you could EXERCISE, pop a pill or two, PRAY, take a risk or two, LISTEN TO MUSIC, chug a beer or two, READ SCRIPTURES, smoke a cigar or two—Let's face it, the choices are there for the making. You and only you can decide whether you want to EAT WELL, starve yourself, TELL SOMEONE AT SCHOOL, cut school, WRITE IT DOWN, shut it down, TALK TO OTHERS ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS, yell at others about your feelings—The possibilities go on and on. I suspect you can guess which ones I'd recommend! (Aren't capital letters wonderful?)
It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that pills, beer, and cigars are probably not going to rank high on the list of healthy ways to deal with pressure. Unfortunately, they do rank high on the list of popular ways to deal with it. Doing poorly in school? If so, you've got some choices to make. You can get a tutor and study hard enough to improve, or you can head for the nearest keg party and forget about it. Feeling less cool than everyone else? No problem. You can try new things, building self-esteem and a sense of who you are out of hard work and small successes, or you can light up a smelly old stogie and try to get attention any way you can. Too shy to talk to girls or guys you really like? Easy. You can push your sweaty palms and shaky knees through enough talks, walks, and dates to get used to it, or you can turn to chemicals for courage. What's the best way to go? The right way, of course! False courage tends to crumble under pressure, and every one of God's children (that means YOU) deserves the real thing. Besides, choosing the right path will point you in the right direction (we're talking Celestial Kingdom here) every time.
Here's the deal—Most of us just want to be happy, but we don't always agree on how to get there. Have you ever heard the 60's phrase "If it feels good, do it"? How about the older version ... "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die"? Sounds pretty cynical, doesn't it? And a bit light on consequences for my taste. I think I'll stick with Alma's philosophy: "Wickedness never was happiness" (Alma 41:10). For me, that says it all.
What's your philosophy? The debate goes on, but before you enter into it, let's make sure you know all the angles. Using any kind of chemical, whether it's to "have fun" or to "feel better," has a serious downside. Our next installment, "The Low-Down," will take a close look at the facts—and those facts reveal just how serious that downside really is.