Healthy living vs. …

…ENJOYING PLEASURES during our short time here. I’m asking if it’s worth it to sacrifice full enjoyment of our brief life for the pursuit of a healthy living lifestyle. It’s a question for us all to ponder as individuals.

This individual is positing that’s a false dichotomy. While I’ve written about one of my favorite philosophers previously (hey, in the 20 or so years I’ve been writing these columns, I’ve previously written about almost everything), I’ll lead with some notes about a misunderstood fellow from 342-270 B.C. whose name is used erroneously in our language today. An epicure today is defined as a person who “values taking pleasure in high quality food and drink and is fond of indulgence in sensual pleasures.” Exactly true and consistent with the values of Epicurus as recorded many centuries ago. BUT.

It’s the definitions that differ. To Epicurus, “high quality food and drink” were those grown in his own garden and “sensual pleasures” were identified as the enjoyment of those foods in his home garden while in the company of close friends and in meaningful conversations. Pleasure begins with the elimination of pain, and everything that follows IS a self-indulgent hedonistic approach to life.

Which brings us to my false dichotomy. It’s not healthy living vs. a pleasure-seeking approach. Healthy living IS pleasure seeking. It’s more accurately about temporary pleasures vs. a life full of the enjoyment when it is lived mostly free of pain and discomfort throughout our years here.

But isn’t some self-discipline required? Of course. What of value doesn’t need some? Self-discipline: I think it’s equal parts denial and motivation. Each of us is stronger on one or the other. Strength of denial may be more beneficial to address foods and drink while naturally motivated folks have an advantage being more physically or intellectually active. A little quiet reflection will help each of us know our tendencies and then adapt accordingly.

Once we have passed reproductive ages there is no natural species priority from either a god or nature (depending on personal metaphysics) to maintain our health. Then it’s up to us. And most of us have a pretty strong priority to stay around a while longer.

Our denial strengths result in improved nutrition which can reduce incidences of the top 11 major chronic diseases, including cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, lung disease, multiple sclerosis, coronary artery bypass, Parkinson’s…

Our motivational strengths address keeping our cardio-respiratory function at healthy levels and maintaining our lean muscle tissue and bone density. Many readers will know about osteopenia as the warning stage before osteoporosis (weakened bones). There is also sarcopenia which slowly/insidiously begins early in life and is the loss of lean muscle tissue often while simultaneously being replaced with body fat. Unless we do something about counter acting this, the result is a steady, almost imperceptible decline in the efficiency to do physical activities (walking without pain, lifting, pulling, pushing, cleaning, dressing, recovering from accidents or injuries, etc.) which results in loss of independence. None of this is about aging. It’s all about reduced activity which is only a problem in advanced cultures and is also a problem we have the capacity to improve.

To summarize the obvious, I’m suggesting we live a healthy life of self-indulgence. Hope you agree.