Living on Principle

comfort convenience desires dreams laziness principles wants warrior spirit

It's pretty easy actually. It's like the locavore who never eats berries in the winter. Most of us think it is absurd and masochistic to limit your food intake to only what is seasonally available. Given that there are berries in the supermarkets in the winter, we'd never be able to resist. But the truth is, it's pretty easy to do, if you know the secret.

In both cases, the trick is placing a higher priority on your desired outcome than on your immediate convenience. The temptations of sweets pale in comparison to the benefits of improved health, noticeably higher energy levels, and inhumanly fast recovery. The temptations of berries in the winter are nothing against the realities of pollution and ecological ruin brought about by transporting foods long distances. For a locavore who is sensitive to these things, it's really a very easy decision: eat berries in the winter and promote the destruction of our society and environment, or wait until the next summer when you can get better tasting berries grown locally.

When you want something more than you want to be comfortable, the obstacles in the way are nothing. When your priorities are in the right place, there is really no decision to be made.

What People Really Want

And so we come to the key issue: most people's highest priority is their convenience and comfort. Note that I did not say it is their health and wellbeing. Oddly, if we look at the way people actually behave in life, they place a higher value on their immediate gratification and dealing with cravings-of-the-moment than they do on their overall health. In nobody's view of life is soda healthy, and yet most people choose soda over every other drink option (except alcohol, which is also universally accepted as bad for you).

This is not entirely surprising, given that our society has conditioned us to believe that our lives should be easy, cozy, and devoid of difficult choices. The best thing is the convenient thing.

But this leaves us with a pretty vacuous existence. We only live for the passing urge, living life only to scratch the most pressing itch or hoping to distract ourselves from it. Our actions are motivated by mere convenience, our life goals simply to aspire to comfort.

That is why principles hold so much importance for those who have them. When you move your priority outside of yourself, your life takes on a larger meaning. You start to feel a part of something larger, and your actions take on a greater import than they would otherwise have. Suddenly, your eating habits mean something in the larger environment. Your exercise routine is an investment in your ability to play with your grandkids.

Judge Me by My Actions, Not My Words

Many of us say that we hold certain ideals close to our hearts - everyone claims to be concerned with their health (almost out of guilt). But if we examine people's actual behavior, it becomes clear that the professed priorities are not really there. Most of us drink more than we know we should. Most of us have terrible sleeping patterns. We work in demeaning jobs because it is the easiest thing to do. We don't do the things associated with our ideals, so can we really claim to have them? It is only in the realm of hypotheticals that a barista-of-8-years has any real interest in traveling the world, despite constant claims that "I want to travel." Clearly, you want to be a barista more than you want to travel, otherwise you'd do it.

Most people do what they think they should, not what they want to do. They go to the gym, do their rounds, put in their time. They do what they 'ought'. But if they really cared, don't you think they'd actually check to see if they're getting results? Wouldn't they look for the best way to do something, rather than just doing what some arbitrary authority says?

I'm not saying everyone should care about their own health and wellbeing. I'm saying people should be authentic in their actions. If you don't really care about your health, then don't bother with exercising. If you don't care about your weight, stop worrying about diets and eating carbs and junk food. Just enjoy it. Do what you want, since that's what you'll end up doing anyway. Better to revel in sin than to resent yourself.

Of course, most of you who read this actually do care about your wellbeing and integrity. But it is a good idea to see what supposedly beneficial habits you do simply because you are told you should care. Until you really care, you don't even know what it means to care. And when you do really care, that thing will come as easily as sleeping in, and the sacrifices will feel like nothing.

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