SMOKE: Denial Of Pleasure

Originally published: 5 November 2003

The trouble with me is that I have absolutely zero self-discipline.

It's the reason I don't get up at 5am for a 20-kilometre jog; it's why I fall prey to addictions; and it probably explains why I am not anywhere near being a millionaire, so I think it's fair to say that my lack of self-discipline has cost me dearly in life so far.

All my life I've tried to reverse this, without success (do you have any idea how many times I've started a fitness regime, only for the first push-up to fail, resulting in me comforting myself with a bottle Jack?), and of late I have decided that to always be fighting my nature is probably not a good thing.

I'm now going to have to live with the fact that my drinking elbow is alway going to be a lot fitter than the rest of me, but now that the decision has been made the future suddenly looks a lot rosier.

I was reading a report on Ananova.com yesterday morning about how a survey in the UK has revealed that Britons are increasingly denying themselves simple, everyday pleasures and treats, and in the process are becoming a nation of puritans.

More and more Britons are exercising their self-discipline and not getting themselves treats like chocolates and magazines and the research concluded that this behaviour is leading to a drop in productivity and a breakdown in relationships.

Makes sense to me - take away the simple pleasures in life and all you're left with is a job you hate, chores and the other banal necessaries which make the life of the disciplined somewhat two-dimensional, and ever-so-boring.

I'm not saying that you can't avoid choccies in the interests of losing a kilo or two, deny yourself your ciggies for Lent, or stick faithfully to an exercise programme with an eye on toning up that booty for geezers like myself to perve at, but I also believe that a little bit of excess can work wonders in terms of your outlook on life.

As part of the research carried out into "Pleasure Deficiency Syndrome" in the UK, 15 volunteers were filmed in their homes for a week, reality TV-style, and the footage showed that almost 70 percent of them spent their time doing things they had to do - not things they wanted to do.

You can certainly make an argument for having to do the washing up, vacuuming a dirty carpet and folding the laundry, but the counter-argument is that if you spend all your time doing what needs to be done - and never take the time out to do the things you want to do - you're going to spend your whole life as a slave to what is expected of you, rather than using what brief time you have on this Earth to have some goddamned fun.

I wouldn't dare suggest that you leave your house a stinking pit, letting the baby stew in its own faeces and neglecting the starving dogs to go out on the town for an orgy of swinging, mainline drugs and vast quantities of sour mash whiskey.

But letting the dishes rot for an afternoon in the sink in order to watch a video is not going to be your downfall and the start of your spiral into the madness of hell - in all likelihood it's going to perk your spirits up instead.

I have very few perks in my life, mainly because I can never afford them, and nothing depresses me more than feeling peckish, opening the fridge and discovering naught but a year-old lemon and a tin of half-eaten Husky Alpo.

I remember going to the houses of rich kids at school and their kitchens were always wall-to-wall cupboards and fridges filled with every tasty treat imaginable, from six-packs of Coke to buckets of cookies to Melrose cheese triangles and so on. I envied them like you can't imagine.

I've always consoled myself with the thought that once I have earned my millions my treats are going to taste that much better, and while no doubt that will prove to be true I can't help feeling that rich kids have always had a good headstart on the rest of us.

A fellow in my matric class of 1990 was given a brand spanking new convertible BMW for getting an "A" in his final exams, and I'm sure that if I had had similar motivation my whole life I would have achieved similar results.

In a world of money you can be rewarded for hard work with extremely cool things, whereas the reward for my hard work has usually been nothing but a migraine headache.

I'm not moaning about not being wealthy here and I'm not trying to put wealthy folks down, but what I'm getting at is that rich kids always seemed so much happier than poor kids to me, and I've never bought the "I may have nothing, but I've still got love" gambit.

The reason rich kids are happier than poor ones is that they can have any treat whenever they want, and if they still aren't happy with that then they deserve every inch of their unhappiness.

With less wealthy folks, however, the rewarding with a treat scenario is far less common, and therefore more greatly treasured, which is why it distresses me no end that people are finding it necessary to deny themselves simple pleasures which would make them that much happier.

I require very little to perk my spirits up - eight lagers, a bag of Swazi or a good sports game on telly goes a long way to giving me some mental harmony, and without those simple things all I see is the vast load of work I have to get through and the fact that once again I am unlikely to get more than five hours sleep.

So I would suggest that if you're denying yourself simple treats you're doing yourself a major disservice, and if you're stuck behind your monitor reading this with a pile of work waiting for you - that you close this browser window, rustle up some loose change and go and get yourself a Bar One, or a Fanta Grape, or dare I be so bold - perhaps even a lekker little samoosa from Aunty Shamielah at the corner shop.

Go on - you've earned it.

All Smoked Out,
Luke Tagg
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Copyright © Luke Tagg. All rights reserved. A few lefts as well.

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