What is a guardrail? The most common type is a barrier that we see on roads and highways used as a precautionary measure. Hopefully you won’t need them, but they are there ‘just in case’.

How does this analogy apply in my life? What ‘just in case’ guardrails have I set up to lead me down a road of happiness?

Remember, a guardrail is not in the danger zone. It prevents us from entering the danger zone. For this key to happiness, I lean heavily on my three priorities in life: my health, family and close friends, and business. If an event, action, or a form of content is going to prevent me from staying true to what is most important to me in life, it’s important for me to set up a barrier to avoid going there.

Here are three guardrails I have set up in my life. FYI, I’m going brutally honest and real with you.

1. Porn: I believe the most subtle yet poisonous form of content that exists is porn. According to a survey conducted by Proven Men Ministries, a non-profit Christian based organization aimed a helping men overcome their porn addiction, 64 percent of men admitted to using porn monthly. This is the percentage that actually admitted. This figure is probably closer to 80 percent or higher. The study claimed that 30 percent of men ages 18-30 used porn daily (I think that figure is closer to 70 percent). The percentage of married Christian men who admit to using porn daily is 7 percent (again, I think that number is closer to 30 or 40 percent).

Quick personal story. When I was in college I did go through a period when I did watch porn about once a week. This escalated into watching porn a few times a week. I found that my moral, self confidence, and ability to be my best self significantly plummeted during this period. I felt symptoms of depression, made strong efforts to seclude myself, and did not workout regularly (which was a total kicker for me). It was clear that the instant gratification from porn was not only wrong, but it was impacting my life far beyond the barriers of my apartment. I decided to drop the porn cold-turkey, experiencing a few relapses over the past decade or so. I have trusted friends that held me accountable in the beginning and following each relapse. Having someone there to hold me accountable was monumental for me. I cannot understate how life-changing this was for me. Hands-down one of the best life decisions I ever made. Thank you Jesus!

My main point here is porn is poison. It’s an absolute devastating drug that will ruin lives. I say lives (plural) because it will impact everyone around the user especially if it becomes a habit.  It’s like carbon monoxide, subtle, under that radar mostly because using it has become socially acceptable. If you’re struggling with porn, I suggest talking to a trusted friend or family member or check out ‘Fight the New Drug’ or this reddit community (not ‘G’ rated, but a supportive helpful community nonetheless).

2. Missing Mass: Going to Mass is a powerful experience for me. I feel forgiveness, clarity of mind, and an abundance of energy throughout the hour. I’m not quite my normal self during the week. This is enough for me to set up a guardrail.

3. Going more than Two Days Without Exercising: Let me clarify my definition of exercise: “Intentionally physical activity free of distraction from the outside world.” Sometimes I exercise for 5 minutes. This could be stretching or push-ups, but the important thing is I am doing something intentional to better myself. It doesn’t happen often, but when I miss one day of exercise I can tell the next day. Missing two days in a row isn’t a good feeling for me. I personally like to intentionally exercise for 30-45 minutes six days a week with 5-15 minutes of stretching on the seventh day.

Guardrails ensure for me that I am not placing myself in harms way. They aren’t in place to say, “No Christian. You are not allowed to break these rules.” They are extremely helpful guidelines that help me live a fulfilling life. They allow me to be proud of the work I do each day. The guardrails ensure that I prioritize things most important to me. They have saved my life.