THE BENEFITS OF OCCASIONAL SELF-INDULGENCE

I believe in earning your rewards regardless if the task is writing, personal fitness or the day to day grind. In that regard, I subscribe to the actor Dwayne Johnson’s philosophy. Johnson has a punishing work-out routine comprising six days a week of weight-training over 150 days of clean living. On day 151, he binges on all manner of junk food: take-out pizzas, pancakes, brownies – all the foods he foregoes most of the year.

I don’t have anywhere near the same drive towards physical fitness as Johnson but over the last nine months I’ve lost thirty pounds of excess blubber and did so solely through clean living. In addition I finished writing a novel and embarked on a new writing project. I’ve also taken up studying Krav Maga and begun learning how to draw shouljo manga. 

In keeping with the “earn your rewards” philosophy and to celebrate completing my novel, I cheerfully fell off the clean-living wagon albeit temporarily. I cooked up an enormous quantity of southern fried chicken and mashed potatoes washed down with Jamaica soda and devoured these as if they were my last meal. I watched numerous hours of television, accompanied by some fifteen hours of computer games – seven of those in one sitting.

As far as debauchery goes, the above was pretty damned boring – hardly a bacchanal! But rest and relaxation was what I sought. After months of work and mental effort, such self-indulgence was a cleansing mental experience, tantamount to showering after a long work-out. It was good to recharge.

Videogames are one of my indulgences but they can be time-consuming. Therefore I regard the hours spent therein as a form of mental vacation from the exigencies of day-to-day life. Since I find videogames addictive, I deliberately set aside time outside of my regular life in order to enjoy them without guilt of negative side effects. Usually that means once every couple of months. By viewing that time as a reward, the experience becomes all the more enjoyable. I can emerge from the fantasy realm of a videogame mentally refreshed and ready to resume meaningful work.

The musician and producer Jonathan Davis has a similar relationship with videogames. When not on the road with his band Korn, Davis is at work in his studio writing new material. Whenever he encounters a particularly intractable problem with a composition, he turns on a games console and kicks back to videogame. After a couple of hours, he returns to the studio and solves the problem with the work-in- progress.

Long story short, periodic self-indulgence needn’t be a bad thing. As long as one maintains discipline towards achieving the greater vision, rest and relaxation is a good thing.

This weekend is Thanksgiving Weekend in Canada and between the family, friends and food, the rewards have been many. As the Thanksgiving Weekend draws to a close, I’ll be returning to a clean living and a resumption of creative discipline. In a funny way I’m glad. Months from now when the next round of projects are complete, there’ll be more self-indulgence as well as positive results.

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