Hedonism vs Stoic Discipline

‘Do not go to the pot for every thirst, and do not go to the doctor for every ache.’  Benjamin Franklin wrote this in ‘Poor Richard’s Almanac’, a book of wise proverbs he wrote himself.  And it still applies to life today.

Hedonism means to indulge in anything you want, and to do it until it loses it’s fun.  Discipline, or Stoicism you might say, is the opposite, denying yourself pleasure and luxury in order to be more tough.

Obviously, moderation is the best way between these two extremes.  And everyone gravitates more towards hedonism and less towards spartan-like discipline.  It’s just easier to indulge.

I often say in my writings, ‘less is more’.  And it turns out I’m right about this. There is something in philosophy called, ‘the law of diminishing returns’.  What that means is, everything is fun when it’s new, but the more you do it, the less valuable it becomes.

And after a while, even fun things get boring if you do it too much.  That’s why less is more.

But obviously human beings lean towards pleasure and away from self-denial.  It’s just natural to be that way.  How this relates to diet and fitness is that the more indulgent you are with food, the heavier and less conditioned you will be.  Indulge too much, over a long time, and you will come down with the chronic, degenerative diseases that plague the modern man.  This is a simple demonstration of karma in life.

So while a healthy dinner might be chicken and brown rice, everyone wants chicken in a gravy with tomatoes, salt, sugar, and who knows what else, over white rice.  And who knows what else they’re eating throughout the day or night.

The point is, indulgence will make you softer, and discipline will make you harder.   An athlete has to discipline himself in every way, not just diet, to perform at his best.  We should all take a lesson from competitive athletes.

Less is more.

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