I smoke cigarettes, I drink alcohol and coffee and I am not particularly careful with my diet. Recently, because of where I have been traveling and working, I have had the luxury of being able to have a cigarette with my coffee or wine inside a cafe or bar; and I admit it is a luxury I enjoy. Yet according to the media, cigarettes, wine and coffee are all bad for me to varying degrees.
There are other chemical substances that some people use for recreation (and I’ve tried a few myself in the past), but according to government information these things are bound to lead to death and social disintegration.
Furthermore I shouldn’t eat red meat, or maybe any meat at all.
Every week a new study tells us that this food or that food could cause all sorts of illnesses.
According to a recent report, it turns out that my lipstick might be poisoning me and the people I kiss!
Of course my Handy/mobile/cell phone might be causing all sorts of problems too, and if I live too near to power cables I might be risking my own life and that of my family.
I do drive from time to time and statistically that opens me up to all sorts of accident risks. I never drink and drive, but some do and they might be on the same road as me… And in many places just crossing the road on foot can be extremely dangerous.
I hate flying but I have to do it. Just think of all the germs that are being recycled through the cabin pressure system. And let’s not think about all the horrific air crashes we have heard of!
My soaps, cosmetics and deodorants could be damaging me and the environment.
Most of the sporting pass-times I can think of could be extremely hazardous. Should we really allow people to risk their lives on things like mountain climbing, paragliding, or bungee jumping? Let’s face it you could break your neck playing tennis or football…
Yet of course we should do sport because if we don’t we will get fat, our bones will waste away, our arteries will clog up and we will surely die.
How often do we hear the following facts?
Most people who drink don’t cause themselves or others any significant harm.
Most people who smoke die of the same age related conditions as everybody else.
Most people who use recreational drugs don’t come to any significant harm as a result.
Most people who use mobile phones remain healthy.
Most people who drive do not die or kill other people in accidents.
Most people who fly don’t get ill or die in horrific accidents.
Most sports people do not die of sports related injuries.
Most people who use cosmetics have the same lifespan as everyone else although of course they may have problems if they have allergies or are sensitive to certain ingredients.
I am not saying we shouldn’t be concerned about the health risks associated with certain lifestyle choices, but I do wonder if we worry too much. And is that very stress and worry more harmful in the end than the supposed risks of a particular substance or activity?
As always for me, balance and harmony are the key. As adults we have to make informed choices and live with the consequences of those choices. If you want to live as long as possible, a certain set of choices open up. If you want to live as fully as possible but longevity is not a big issue, other choices come up. If you care about the environment and your fellow human beings your lifestyle choices will have to take certain other things into account. But once those choices are made, we do ourselves and those around us no favors by stressing about what negative things might happen as a result.
In general the happiest and healthiest people I have met are those who are content with the choices they have made and are not over-burdened by stress.