Imagine your GP telling you to stop taking your prescribed medication, schedule less appointments with her, eat more candy, perhaps a grilled cheese sandwich and occasionally enjoy a glass of wine. You’d probably think she has gone off her rocker! In fact, she would be doing something unusual for most doctors today – basing her advice on the latest scientific discoveries.
What we hear from doctors is traditional, unprogressive and disregards latest sciencific knowledge. We are convinced to spend a ton of time at the doctor’s office in taking tests , examinations, consuming medication for breakfast, lunch and dinner, keeping to a ballerina’s diet, exercising as if we are getting ready to climb Everest at any moment and worry about not leading a healthy lifestyle properly. At the end of it all, our psychological, financial and physical states end up drained by our worries, consequently become unhealthy and unhappy.
Nevertheless, generations of researchers are repeatedly showing the consistent results. Many of the things we’ve been so strictly forewarned about are actually good for us when in moderation. Your choice to sleep in and stay in bed till noon is highly beneficial if you truly enjoy it. Coffee is good for you, lowering the risks of Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Chocolate, cheese and other foods considered considered unhealthy all follow this same approach.
Be careful with your pleasures though and remember the fine line between enjoying your favourite grilled-cheese sandwich from time to time and eating fatty foods repeatedly. I would not recommend diving into all your pleasures completely as that might lead to excessive weight, substance abuse and other potential harm to yourself. In fact, pleasure only stays pleasant when it’s taken in moderation – you would probably not enjoy your grilled-cheese sandwich the fifth day in a row. Another point here is that you shouldn’t take up something everyone enjoys if you don’t to become happier. Say you don’t like bacon – then it wouldn’t be a good idea to start eating it to live longer. Do something you really enjoy.
I would recommend to find your pleasures and look forward to them during the day. If for you taking a walk, going to the gym and eating a salad is enjoyable – go for it! But if what really brings joy to your life is your favourite computer game, an occasional glass of red wine or that grilled-cheese sandwich – that will also work. The most important takeaway here is that you should experience pleasure and genuinely look forward to it.
Research on why all these pleasures are actually good for us is still limited. One possibility is that by enjoying such small little things in daily life we become happier and thus healthier. When you feel happy, you experience stress less, your immune system strengthens, and your body becomes more resistant to various ailments. Happy people live longer. Happy though does not include the worry and stress of constantly taking medication or constant check ups or procedures. Instead of all that, our medicine should be the people we love, balance of food we enjoy and the living of life to its highest heights.
Remember that life has a certain limit. Length for the sake of length is not enough. Quality of life is the essence. The goal should be to have a life free of stress and worry but filled with balanced pleasure, happiness and total health.