Some unexpected insights to human behavior
So, I was sitting in the dentists chair this morning. As expected, the hygienist was talking through it all and asking me questions as if I could respond to her. It sorta set my wheels in motion.
I’ve been a coward for most of my life. I avoided both doctors and dentists for the most part until I was almost fifty years old. It’s really only in the last few years that I finally grew up and became an adult about these things.
You might expect I would have all sorts of things that needed attention. And yea, I did need a root canal and two crowns, right at the beginning. Since then I’ve needed exactly one filling. In a wisdom tooth no less. And from a medical perspective? I had nothing unexpected. I’ve caught up to all the recommended screenings and tests. I’m not completely sold on their veracity but that’s another conversation altogether.
How did I get so lucky? Well, the fact is, that fear of doctors and dentists led me to do all the stuff they tell you to do to live longer. I stopped eating processed foods in my twenties. I don’t have a sweet tooth. I have also been pretty into physical fitness for most of my life. I didn’t get lucky so much as I did the things that made luck as small a player in the outcome as possible. Did I plan on that? Not in anyone’s wildest dreams. I took the view that I would be as healthy as I could be for as long as possible.
Now I know any number of people who were much more proactive in their healthcare than I was. But they sat on the couch every Sunday with a 12 pack and a bunch of friends, and passed around the hot dogs and bratwurst. And yea, this is a criticism of their lifestyle choice. Hey, I’m only human (and I did enough of that myself so I deserve my fair share of the same criticism). But it’s coming from their doctors too. We KNOW these things are bad for you. But many of us do them anyway. Why is that?
When is the last time you saw an advertisement for fresh asparagus? Or free range chicken? These things aren’t big business. In fact, a huge quantity of the shit people are trying to sell us is bad. For our physical health, for the planet, even for our mental well being.
We’ve been conned into the idea that buying stuff makes you more interesting. We’ve also been sold the notion that working more and more makes you somehow a more valuable person. Busy is the new mantra. People get in conversations trying to one up each other over who works more hours.
There was an anti-drug PSA from the ‘80’s. It went something like this: “I do coke so I can work harder, so I can make more money, so I can do more coke…”. The thing is, our corporate culture has been urging us to do essentially the same thing since long before that. We’re killing ourselves in an all out effort to kill ourselves. Insanity.
I joined a dating site a month or two ago. I can’t even count the number of profiles that included some form of “I’m very busy….” Is that the kind of romantic lead-in you’re looking for in your love life? I mean it’s right up there with “how much longer is this going to take?” in the middle of sex. I’m all for quality over quantity but if you’re too busy to have a relationship then just don’t date!
Look, if you want to be happy and successful you need to make some choices. First, you need to define what success means to you. TO YOU, not what our culture is trying to tell you what success is. And then you should really examine that.
Look it over as if you have already achieved it. So you got that six figure income and the BMW. What did it cost you? Maybe a relationship? How about being buried in an office every weekend for three years? How many of your kid’s piano recitals or baseball games were missed? Is it worth what it cost? Are there really any benefits to having achieved it at all, other than how you compare to other people?
Be honest with yourself. Some of us took decades to realize we’ve been chasing our tails all along.
So many times we seek to achieve things that we don’t really even want. Why? They’ve been marketed to us. Anybody ever tried to sell you on the benefits of having more friends? Why is that? Because, my friend, there’s no money to be made in you being a happier, more well adjusted person. You wanting to be healthier and happier isn’t going to sell you another bottle of 18 year old Scotch.
Are you planning to fail? Because true failure is going after the things someone else decided are important. Worse yet is achieving everything you ever wanted only to realize they were empty aspirations all along. It’s a lot harder to figure out what you really want out of life. But it’s so much better than letting someone else decide for you.
Oh, and “how much longer is this going to take?” is never an appropriate question in bed. Remember, encouragement and creativity are the antidotes to boredom. In bed and in life.
Thanks for reading.