This morning, my son and I stood almost 20 minutes in a line of affluent and healthy Californians for a trendy food – it wasn’t raw vegan, fermented, green drink, or a some celebrity chef opus – it was for donuts.
So in honor of this day, I want to challenge the sanctimonious and simplistic nature of valence.
In most of our minds, most of the time, we wield a list of choices which be call “good” and “bad” or having positive or negative valences:
(-2) Strongly Negative – smoking, bacon, heroin addiction
(-1) Mildly negative – cigars, turkey bacon, wine
(+1) Mildly positive – gum for fresh breath, vegetarian bacon, herbal tea
(+2) Strongly positive – brushing and flossing, wheat grass, filtered water
If we decide to enjoy our delicious donut like our maple bacon, chocolate moca, apricot/sour cream with pistachios, and raspberry, why must we engage in a weird, ‘Nurse Ratched”-like self-flagellation?
“I’ll be bad now and good later by working out” or…
“I deserve to be bad because I have been good with my responsibilities”
I suggest that we take advice from Nietzsche and go Beyond Good and Evil when it comes to self-talk.
A donut is not good or evil. But it can be a source of great love. It is also a tasty source of calories. And anyway, I contend that the problem is not in our willpower or even our stars; the problem might be an accumulation of senescent stem cells leading to metabolic syndrome which I explore in the podcast about obesity. In it, I explain why fat storage and insulin are adaptations from our evolutionary past. I eat donuts daily and I don’t abide dietary Torquemadas who would say you can’t be an anti-aging doctor and eat donuts.
Sadly, when it comes to politics, trusting gurus, and being sanctimonious about our choices, we are overly simplistic. Even if you made all perfect choices in lifestyle, you would still age without the help of some boost to your telomerase activity. And even if you made all poor choices, you wouldn’t necessarily accelerate your demise appreciably if done in moderation. Little known fact: the oldest documented modern human smoked cigarettes up until 119 of her 122 years.
We have all been living with high fructose corn syrup, Roundup™ radiation from flying, breathing in mold toxins, and sitting at your desk for hours a time – and we also do pretty well with a good night’s rest and recovery.
The body is resilient and efficient and in moderation, we shouldn’t crucify ourselves over every action as though our lives depended on it.
As F. Scott Fitzgerald said:
The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.
Do you want to be quoted in my next book? We are putting together a book proposal and I require some great quotes about why you fear, loath, or rage against aging. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org before June 13th, 2015 for consideration. Thank you.