So it’s been awhile, and sadly it wasn’t due to pursuing grand hedonistic adventures. Rather life got on the way and put me face to face with one of enlightened hedonism’s basic premises: You cannot successfully pursue hedonism until your basic needs are met.
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I use Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a model, basically a pyramid starting with the basic needs of food and shelter as a foundation on up to self-actualization; each consecutive layer dependent of the foundational needs below. It’s only near the top of this pyramid that one can really take on hedonism appropriately, at least as an enlightened pursuit.
This past year, I‘ve been focused on the declining health and ultimate death of my mother, my wife’s cancer surgery and recovery, and the start of a new job. While it might have been nice to set those things aside and explore some swanky new bars, the reality is such endeavors would be more distractions than anything else. There is no real fulfillment in distraction.
If there’s a lesson in this, it probably is to remember that to sustain a hedonistic lifestyle, one must also be mindful to take care of one’s health, safety, and family as only when these are well can one truly be an enlightened hedonist.
There’s a principle called “HALT” that some of you with 12-step friends or loved-one may be familiar with. The premise is that you should never make decisions when you are:
In other words, in order to make rational decisions, you cannot be in the survival mode of the bottom tiers of hierarchy. I try to keep this acronym in mind as I navigate through the day, making sure my basic needs are met so I can make the best decisions for my happiness and well-being.
But enough excuses and explanations, I believe I’m finally back to a point where I can take on this quest again. I plan to pursue the most fulfilling life I can - testing out these principles of enlightened hedonism. To that end I hope to put some of this theory into practice, find out what works, and gladly dump or tinker with the things that don’t. After all, life isn’t just a thought experiment.