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Where health is pleasure

Your dietician orders you to cut out fats and oils. Your doctor says no salt or sugar and your bank balance says no new clothes, perfumes, jewellery, holidays or luxuries. Life, you grumble, is one long bore with barely any respite. You work harder than ever, relentlessly and single single-mindedly pursuing your business and career goals till you’re ready to drop down fatigue and are hungering for a new lifestyle which might bring you some kind of indefinable gratification. You are doing everything you can to stay trim and fit and yet, for some inexplicable reason, life remains an incomplete experience. If that’s the predicament you’re in, consider that the vital ingredient missing from your life may be simple pleasure.
Scientists and health faddists agree today that pleasure and activities leading to gratification of the senses are essential for the well-being of even the most Spartan fitness fiends. They may give up all those lusty good things of life and have sense of conquest but, say the new opinion makers, they are leading a hallow lifestyle without a rightful sense of fulfillment. Some healthy and heathen indulgences are good for health they feel; because people who are happy with themselves are happier than those who wear the hungry, lean, low-cholesterol look. The latter kind of people often feel deprived pulled in different directions and victims of their own castigating nature.
Many people find that the roots of their desert-like lifestyle lie in their childhood. They may come from families with a tight fisted approach to living. The father may have been an antiseptic personality who rationed out tenderness and treats with equal miserliness. The mother may have been a martyr, a self-denying person herself. Specially notable are the families who are victims of the Indian philosophical tenet that self-indulgence is tantamount to a crime. They teach simple living and high thinking not withstanding the fast changing world outside. Later on such people take on more responsibility than is fair and feel stressed, suffer from difference and are convinced that they don’t deserve good times.
All these people, considered “good” by society, are ironically the very people who need a good dose of pleasure seeking. Healthy pleasure-seeking can cure depressions, frustrations, self-pity, jealousy, envy and chronic nagging and health disorders which result from these corroding ills. In our lexicon, pleasure-seeking is synonymous with vices. This must not be so. Infact, work and pleasure must be the twin goals of people who want to be healthy and successful. Workaholics, depression-riddled people, and compulsive grumblers- all suffer from the denial of pleasure-seeking which may be the antidote to their condition.
How does one become a pleasure-seeker? The simplest way is to see what activity renews your zest for life. Does music stimulate you? Do encounters with new friends make your adrenalin run free? Does trying out a new lifestyle give you a high? Pleasure is tempered always by personal beliefs and habits and has to be sought within the orbit of these attributes of a person. To begin with therefore, one can savour the simple pleasure of fantasy building. Fitness of mind and body begins with working out as many dreams as possible. So it is a good idea to list them however impossible they may seem. Then measure the dreams against the backdrop of the reality of the availability of money, time, energy and support. Some fantasies will give you instant pleasure- like having a massage and a long, soothing bath or oiling you hair and putting it in the best condition. It is also true that pleasures must come in a trickle to you all through life rather than only on festivals or special occasions. Buying yourself small gifts, spending quiet afternoons with friends, idle-gossiping without guilt and ill will, dancing or singing alone,-these are ordinary activities which spell pleasure. The major pleasures such as traveling or buying something that is a reward for your hard-work need more planning.
The malady of the present age is giving as much hurt to people as possible. This malady is expressed through bitching, back-biting, unfair competition, grudges, revenge, settling scores and hitting below the belt. More and more of us must learn that these activities create the acid of hatred and kill creative instincts. Giving simple pleasures to others as well as to oneself is often the tonic needed to achieve health and well-being. All it may take to improve your physical and mental condition may be listening to music, a walk in the woods, a game of cards or buying an object of small value but major emotional importance. Pleasure-seeking must become a conscious search to lead us to better health and fitness.

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