Or is it really toxic
Don’t trust willpower
What are the main causes of illness? Genetics? Random disease? Poverty? Infections? Autoimmune disorders? Trauma? Aging? What is the role of Addictive Behaviors? With our now worldwide obesity epidemic, high rates of cigarette and alcohol related illnesses and death, sedentary lives of excessive screen time and other sensory stimuli, perhaps much illness is something we have control over.
If obesity went away, many of the most “successful” drugs would sit in bottles on shelves gathering dust. If emphysema went away, then most people would just need oxygen that’s already in the air; not in metal bottles from medical supply stores. If drug addiction went away, then drug cartels might have to repurpose to community service agencies. If most people got daily exercise and could choose healthy foods, then the children and grandchildren would better learn what’s important for health from their role model parents and grandparents.
What stimulates addictive behaviors? Anything that is pleasurable! Living is a Catch-22. We are programmed to seek pleasure. Pleasure seeking means survival. Our ancestors had to constantly move and seek food to survive. The more rest they could find, the more fat and sugar food had, and the more possessions they had, the more likely they could pursue and slay the next mastodon. We have not evolved beyond that quest for rest, food, and stuff. But the mastodon steaks are already shrink wrapped at the grocery store. We pursue them in our cars. Our stuff encourages sitting a lot.
The advertising industry is expert at encouraging us to seek pleasure. We are expert at seeking pleasure because it is pleasurable and we know all the secret passageways to getting there. We can get through the minefields of medical people, magazines, government agencies, relatives, and friends all reminding us to choose more wisely for our health. Nothing can stop us from taking a hit of dopamine whenever we want, such as anticipating and eating a piece of chocolate cake a la mode.
Dopamine is a chemical Pied Piper of brain neurotransmitters showing you the way to Emerald City, Shangri-La, or your pleasure-of-choice at the moment. Dopamine is living in the past. It still thinks a saber-toothed tiger is lurking around every corner and wants you to be well fed, rested, and carrying the most modern shield and spear before encountering it. Dopamine means well. It has just become a little misguided.
We don’t want pain either. Most people like to avoid a healthy amount of exercise because it is often rather unpleasant and causes soreness, especially if we smoke and are overweight. It also takes away time from the pursuit of the vast array of pleasures our culture offers us.
Most of us like the pleasure of false hope. However, there is no snake oil, or magic pill, or diet, or app, or 5 minute abs exercise that will give you a healthy body. But don’t listen to me. This article is just another land mine to avoid on your way to the pleasure center. You’ll find me there enjoying another bowl of ice cream.