From a fan of self indulgence

Research: “The systematic investigation to establish facts and enable us to accurately reach new conclusions.”

On subjects other than health I’ve written that while the knowledge gained from research is often necessary to help us make better decisions, it is not a guarantee we will. Applying my statement to our health, why, even knowing all the facts we’ve learned from research, many of us still do not get enough physical exercise, carry far too much body fat, drink too much alcohol and sodas, smoke tobacco, eat way too much processed/packaged foods, still regularly eat pastry, pizza, pasta, chips, sugar in its many forms, ice cream, cookies, crackers, pancakes, meats…?

OK, I know I just listed lots of stuff we all enjoy and if we can’t enjoy ourselves in our short short lives, what’s the point? The point is we CAN fully enjoy our lives far more by making the changes proven to help us have less discomfort, less pain, fewer chronic diseases (diabetes, high blood pressure, many cancers, emphysema, heart disease…) and more daily energy. That is obviously both a healthier AND a more enjoyable way to spend our years here. 

So, I’m not talking about sacrifice or self-discipline; I’m talking about feeling better, moving our joints more freely and comfortably and having more energy every day/every year. To find our personal path to making the necessary changes may be bothersome to those who don’t like change and are more comfortable with the familiar, but please just re-read the previous sentence. This is about immediate and long-term benefits. This is pleasure seeking.

Epicure: “One who takes pleasure in fine foods and drink. A gourmet who has sensitive and discriminating taste in food and/or wines. Devoted to enjoying the finer things in life.” Based on the teachings of a Greek philosopher Epicurus (342 – 270 B.C.) who was a proponent of living our lives as hedonists, as seekers of pleasure — hence the current above definition. (Epicurus was also a proponent of atomic theory way back then so he was not a lightweight thinker). Let’s see what this man of undeniable wisdom actually thought and wrote about pleasure seeking and how he has been misrepresented by today’s values. I’ll paraphrase him: “Pleasure starts with freedom from pain in the body and from troubles of fear and anxiety in the mind. Pleasure is not found in continuous drinking nor the satisfactions of bodily lusts. Pleasure is in the simple life of maintaining one’s own garden of foods, daily walks and the sharing of ideas in a community of friendship.” 

The #1 health concerns in the United States today are chronic diseases (type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, many cancers, bone density, arthritis, heart disease…). The #1 antidote based on research to each of those is increased physical activity. More than 50 percent of adults and even more foreboding, more than 75 percent of high school students, do not get enough physical activity. Our schools have de-emphasized P.E. classes so only the students who participate in the sports teams are actually assured of getting enough daily exercise. 

The most effective way to lead is by setting a good example. Maybe that can start by redefining pleasure — and then by acting on it.