In an age of abundance, stimulation is not difficult to attain. It is now possible to get a Big Mac or donuts that are higher in fat and sugar than our ancestors would have ever conceived. At the same time, stimulation through media or various other outlets can be found in almost all living rooms and theme parks. In general, technology allows humans to stimulate themselves in a extremely wide variety of ways. However, this stimulation comes at a cost. With increased stimulation comes desensitization and an unsustainable search for the next fun, delicious, *insert stimuli here*, great thing. By weaning yourself off mainstream levels of stimulation, you can greatly increase the amount of enjoyment in your life relative to others.
Enjoyment is Relative
One of the most obvious examples of this phenomenon is food. As I mentioned in my previous post about building a business with an optimized diet, health is very important to me. Through abstinence from certain foods, I have found a totally new enjoyment where I would have never expected. People view my excitement over certain foods and events in bewilderment due to the relatively small amount of stimulation I require in order to be happy.
Other than 85% cocoa dark chocolate, I eat no refined sugar at all. Any sugar that I do eat comes from fruit. In fact, as juice alters the natural sugar balance in the consumption of a fruit, I avoid it altogether. For me, fruits are sweet and are an absolute treat. In one situation, the same exact orange that was bitter to my sister, was deliciously sweet for me. While genetically different senses of taste exist, there is definitely a connection between my taste buds and the lack of refined sugar in my diet.
When I started eating 85% dark chocolate, it was also quite bitter for me. In fact, I was not a fan at all, but after a while it started to grow on me. Now, with only 5 grams of sugar per large serving, 85% dark chocolate is delicious, sweet, and completely satisfies me. While I have not yet tried, I would assume milk or white chocolate is probably too sweet. This all stems from reducing the level of stimulation to my taste buds so lower levels give me great pleasure.
Life is Good
In general, the more you can reduce the stimulation in your life, the better off you will be. While this might seem like some religious abstinence mentality, it is just a sustainable and more natural way of living life.
As I rarely watch television or movies, the things that I do watch are amazing. The comedy in some of my favorite shows makes me laugh harder than most. In my daily life, this translates to finding normally occurring things in life quite comical. Most people go through their day unsatisfied and unhappy and while there are a number of reasons for this, I’d suggest a low level of stimulation doesn’t give them the enjoyment that it offers me.
For a more tangible example, I’ll briefly look at drug abuse and caffeine usage. Anyone who has used caffeine to improve alertness will relate that as time goes on, it takes more and more to get the same feeling. At the beginning, a cup of coffee will help you get through the entire day. Before you know it, you’re drinking three cups of coffee before lunch and energy drinks in the afternoon. In contrast, the 85% dark chocolate has enough caffeine to make me extremely focused, energetic, and hyperactive in a way that it would not affect most people. In the same way, drug users require more and more of their drug of choice in order to get the same feeling – they are increasing their stimulation threshold.
Enjoy the Simple Things
While it might sound cliché to say this, life itself should be the drug. Due to a lower requirement for stimulation, the sun shining or an interesting squirrel outside can add great enjoyment for me. I feel ecstatic for the most mundane foods, and overall my level of pleasure from simple things is astounding. This is due to many things, but I believe much of this stems from reducing stimulation. In the same way that Buddhist monks can be the poorest and yet happiest people on Earth, you too can attain this by reducing the stimulation in your life.