A Boring Essay on Moderation (January 14, 2020)
I will keep this short since we all know that there is nothing more boring than moderation.
Moderation is, by definition, not extreme. “Extreme” is one of the buzzwords of the last decade, and is supposed to be an appealing and desirable thing. The very OPPOSITE of moderation.
"Extreme" may be interesting and exciting but it is also, by its very nature, stressful. Why on earth would we actually PURSUE more stress? Well, because our lives are so easy. And that’s bad. Well, no, it’s good. … Ok, sorry. Let’s start again.
The science news story of the past week was that there has been a small yet definite drop in people’s average normal body temperature, occurring steadily for at least the last century. The best speculation for why that might be is the fact that there’s a lot less infectious disease endemic in the population than there used to be. (Giving a home to microbes tends to raise body temperature). Good, right? But!
Infection = stressful = exciting.
No infection = not stressful = boring.
(Check out any zombie movie if you don’t believe this.)
We aren’t as sick as we used to be. That makes our lives healthier, less stressful – and more boring. Right? To continue in this vein:
Starvation = stressful = exciting.
Enough food = not stressful = boring.
Inadequate shelter = stressful = exciting.
Comfortable, temperature-controlled homes = not stressful = boring.
War = stressful = exciting.
Peace = not stressful = boring.
Please note that all the stuff that’s good for you DECREASES stress. The stuff that’s bad for you INCREASES stress. When you consider real threats to existence, the average American life is really not all that stressful. It’s pretty comfortable. And, therefore, kind of boring. Which can make “extreme” look interesting, when most of the time extreme is really just stupid.
Healthful habits are moderate, non-stressful, non-extreme. Boring.
Staying up all night is stressful, unhealthy, and exciting. Getting enough sleep relieves stress, is healthy – and is boring.
Eating junk (or following weird diets or “cleanses”) is stressful on your body, unhealthy and exciting. Eating properly relieves stress, is good for you – and is boring.
Ditto for “extreme sports” (or total sloth) and proper exercise.
And so on down the line.
That’s all. Except that, personally, I’m going to do myself a favor and introduce a little more boring moderation into my life this year. And after my extreme behavior over the holidays, I'm kind of looking forward to it.
--dr. diane holmes
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