Coffee without caffeine, beer without alcohol, coke without calories – we’ve become experts at denying ourselves things. In fact we’ve become so good at it we actually feel better when we manage to stop ourselves from enjoying the things we love – chocolate cheesecake for dessert? No thanks, I’d rather have a mineral water, we say, priding ourselves on our willpower.
Would you rather lie on the sofa and read a book scoffing a box of Maltesers or put yourself through a punishing routine at the gym for the fourth time this week? Gym of course. And what about another glass of red wine?”Oh, no thanks – I’m going sober this month.” I feel so much better about myself, we say, with a strained face.
We have our teeth professionally polished, we’re constantly trying to improve ourselves and do good deeds to lead more wholesome and longer lives.
A nation of spoilsports
Whatever happened to us? We’ve become a nation of spoilsports and bores, so obsessed with how we look, our fitness levels and whether we can manage to stretch out our lives like chewing gum by denying ourselves any form of pleasure – we’ve forgotten how to live.
I’ve recently stumbled across the musings of an Austrian philosopher by the name of Robert Pfaller – who believes life is only worth living if we eat, drink, celebrate and sleep with another. Well, hear, hear! I say.
Silliness for the sake of it
Mr Pfaller defends silliness and having fun for the sake of fun – without worrying too much about the consequences and whether denying yourself that sinful cheesecake or sneaky fag will really make you look better a few years from now or if a month of teetotalling will really add a few years to your life.
And even if you do manage to buy yourself a bit of time through abstinence- will those hours, months and years of ignoring hunger pangs and pulling sour faces at more free-spirited souls really be worth living?
True pleasure will never result from a cost-benefit analysis, according to Pfaller. In other words, if you’re constantly worrying about tomorrow and the consequences of your deeds – you’re not ever able to really enjoy yourself.
Skinny dipping, smoking, drinking…
As you can see Mr Pfaller has made quite an impression on me. He made me think back of my student years – of dancing on tables, skinny dipping, smoking and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow, blowing a whole months’ salary on a pair of shoes and scoffing entire tubs of ice cream in the middle of the night.
That was before the adult me stepped in with a stern face, stopping me from flirting with strangers, tut-tutting every time I lit up until I finally quit and making me feel bad every time I pour another glass. There’ll be a price to pay, my adult voice says. You’ll have a hangover, you’ll get fat, you’ll get wrinkles, you’ll make a fool of yourself, you’ll die…
Well guess what – a hangover is a small price to pay for a few hours of respite from life’s demands, I’m fat any way, I have wrinkles even though I stopped smoking and used sunblock, I make a fool of myself even when I don’t mean to and I am going to die any way…
Have our lives become too regimented, our minds too straight-jacketed by what society thinks and expects of us? Should we shake off the shackles and live a little?
OK, I know – we have children and having a smoke on the school run or a quickie with a toy boy in the shed will not go down very well, but maybe there are different ways in which we can learn to let ourselves go a little and reclaim some of those delicious delirious moments of wild abandonment and true happiness we experienced when we were younger.
My TIPS for happiness
Here are my tips for lightening up but be warned – you won’t lose weight, get fitter or learn anything from it – you might just have a bit of fun.
- Go through the house with a black bag and throw out everything that gives you a bad conscience – diets, to-do lists, the bathroom scale, self-help books. Smile as you feel a weight lift of your mind.
- Watch your children at play – now join in. Lie on the carpet, make bad toilet humour jokes and giggle uncontrollably. Now throw a full-on tantrum – kick your legs in the air, shout at the top of your voice and refuse to eat your vegetables. Demand more cake.
- Make sure your neighbours are not at home and the kids are fast asleep. Check again. Now take your clothes off and dare your husband to chase you naked through the garden…
- Don’t run, do yoga or any form of physical exercise other than sex for an entire week.
- Dance on a table – just make sure the table is quite sturdy.
- Have another glass of wine, eat that slice of cake without feeling guilty. Enjoy every sip or mouthful as if it’s the last thing you’ll ever taste.
- Don’t go to bed hungry – ever again!
Let me know how you get on!by
OK – wat beteken LEUK – is ek baie dom?? Afrikaans of Engels? Help?
Leuk means ‘nice’/’fun’. I’m Dutch, but I’m guessing this is Afrikaans as well.
An excellent idea. And much, much harder than it seems.
I know it’s hard – but I fully intend trying. How about you?
I had a husband who did not entertain ‘deny’ in his vocabulary or ‘restraint’ in his actions. Consuming life with a boundary-pushing vigour was more like it. Smoking, drinking, talking incessantly, always plotting new adventures. Unfortunately, he vamoosed to heaven before we could do the growing-old-together thing. Fortunately, he left me with a clear understanding of how to inhabit earthly life. You want to lose weight? Shave your legs. You want to look younger? Cut your hair. Stained teeth? Live with it. Thirsty? Drink beer. Hungry? Eat. You want to? Do it. Simple. Only refrain from dishonesty and unkindness. Often I find myself confessing a transgression and gratefully accepting accompanying grace, but mostly I simply enjoy whatever’s on offer, which generally equates to happiness. And okay, yes, sometimes a hangover.
Thanks for stopping by. Sounds like you’re really living this. You’re actually living – in the sense the Austrian philosopher is advocating. Well done!
Well, my kids are out of the house, although not entirely independent yet, I am starting to doubt whether they will ever get there, my husband is dead, all pressures off, no propriety needed really. I suppose then it is easy to do what you want. Not so easy with smaller children, an alive and kicking husband and an assortment of family, friends, neighbours, colleagues and observers demanding parts of you, constantly dissecting same and putting you on exhibition at times when you actually want to live. Come to think of it, it is sad that living happily is generally being frowned upon.
Get me a glass of red – I feel a tantrum coming on.
Great post. Sadly, I think I was born with the sensible gene which only gets over-ridden by alcohol! #pocolo
Thanks for stopping by – I’m trying to get rid of my sensible gene! Might need more Chardonnay…
Great post. I’m one of those people who are pretty good, but I don’t eat really well. I know people who are slim, but deny themselves food all the time. It seems so stupid.
I love eating, but always feel guilty about food. It’s so wrong. I want my daughter to be a lot freer when it comes to eating and enjoying herself.
Have a pj/dirty hair/no make-up/biscuits for breakfast and lunch and dinner day!
I’m doing quite a lot of this already!! Maybe I’m happier than I think.
This is great! I think for women it’s letting go of how we look as the most important thing about us – that will make me fat, that will give me wrinkles, I must keep looking young!!! It’s brilliant to lose that as you get older, much more relaxing and fun and great for daughters to see. Thanks for writing this!
I wish so much for my daughter not to be constrained to the same extent as I was and still am sometimes – the whole body image and self acceptance thing is so important – and we’re so powerful as role models for them aren’t we.
lol i am going to be dancing on my table this weekend xx
Will see you there – save me a space near you. Though last time I danced on the same table with a friend in France, we fell over and I was bruised for a week.
I very much live by the saying all things in moderation! This is such a great post. Thank you for linking to PoCoLo x
I tend to struggle with moderation…
What a brilliant and insightful post. I have been reading it aloud to anyone who will listen. Now excuse me while I go skip dinner and have more biscuits instead.
So glad I could inspire you! Enjoy those biscuits and have a glass of wine on me!
Woohoo! I’m with you – I plan a future of growing old disgracefully. A Uni friend once said that he was looking forward to being old, because then you could just go round nicking people’s chips without it looking too scary. A mischievous old lady is VERY endearing, in my book! And wrinkles are beautiful in my opinion, they show character and the markings of a life well-lived.
Yes – my personal heroine is a friend’s nan who is on her 5th husband and still drinking and smoking at 87!
Totally with you. I have enjoyed your post so much, and found myself nodding and smiling so much throughout it. We should live life with more fun in it. Do more silly things. Laugh more. Diet and worry less. I will finish this comment and go eat that piece of cake x
Hope you enjoyed the cake! Thanks for stopping by.
Thank you for a blissful weekend filled with apple pie, brownies and lots of wine. your post was just what I needed.
Good for you! I did the same…
This is very interesting post. In a time where someone might think that for women is important to stay healthy and beautiful and in shape you come and you deny all those needs in a very elegant way. I admire it. Good luck.
What about men, Adam? Are they allowed to get fat and ugly and out of shape? I tend to make my own luck and not let people tell me what to think or do, darling.
Hey, where is the post of this week? I’ve being waiting as I need some inspiration to carry on my essays! xx
Hi Wania – You’ve finally commented! My latest post is about a visit to the Space Centre – so probably not exactly the inspiration you’re looking for. Will keep you in mind as my target audience next time… jThanks again for rescuing me on the roadside the other day!!
Yes, I saw it after a post my comment – and I couldn’t edit it! And yes, you are right.. didn’t inpired me that much… sorry! ha ha ha It was lovely chatting another day – pity it was too short! hope all sorted now!
Brilliant reading something like this! Right I’m having a massive slab of choccy cake tomorrow.