Pleasure is an important aspect of any life. All work and no play don’t just make Jack a dull boy; they can also make Jack a frustrated, bored boy. Life demands balance, and we’re not going to find that by spending all day every day in our cubicle at work, then going home at night and falling asleep immediately without watching so much as one episode of The Crown on Netflix.
That kind of life is a fast road to burnout. There are reasons to delay rewarding yourself until after you do something like complete a major project at work, but once that happens? Kick back and have fun. Making time for things we enjoy on a regular basis also keeps us from getting so fed up with life that we just abandon everything and go full hedonist. We don’t want to deprive ourselves to the point where we snap and end up overcorrecting in a way that causes harm to ourselves and others.
A glass of wine vs. a whole bottle
Everybody needs something to look forward to, and celebrations with friends are a great thing to circle on the calendar and really anticipate. Should you find yourself in north-central New Jersey one weekend to attend a college roommate’s bachelorette party, feel free to head down to the liquor store in Woodbridge and load up on wine. But remember you can’t start drinking the wine in your rental car, and you shouldn’t drink yourself to the point of vomiting at the party. Binge-drinking until you puke or pass out is never really fun, but it’s especially bad if you’re doing it past the age of 25 or so. Like the beer commercials say, “Drink responsibly.” Being pleasantly tipsy with your best friends is fun; waking up the next morning with a hangover from hell is not.
We all make unhealthy choices. When we do it right, making unhealthy choices is part of the fun. Having a burger for lunch every day isn’t healthy, but ordering a really great cheeseburger once a month on payday probably won’t send you to an early grave. We all know that smoking can lead to lung cancer, but a diet that’s high in processed meat and low in fruits and veggies may also place you at a higher risk for developing cancer. Most of us would vastly prefer to avoid cancer entirely rather than think about where we’re going to go to get cancer treatments.
We can’t guarantee we’ll never get cancer anymore than we can guarantee that we’ll never step out into the crosswalk and get mowed down by a double decker bus. But making better choices definitely won’t hurt our odds. Some people say that there’s no point in living to 100 if they can’t eat a lot of sausage and smoke a lot of cigarettes, and that’s their choice to make. We all have to weigh what matters now versus what might matter later. There are no perfect choices. We make the best decisions we can in any given moment and then live with the consequences.