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You Deserve Better

published24 days ago
5 min read

How To Practice Self-Care Without Self-Sabotage

Throughout history, there’s always been a thin line between authentic self-love and unrepentant vanity.

On the one hand, it’s important to set boundaries with others, make time for rest and relaxation, and enjoy life’s most pleasant blessings in moderation.

On the other hand, it’s important to “turn the other cheek” as Jesus did, to push our minds and bodies to the limit regularly, and to maintain vigilance against the corrupting gravity of pleasure.

Proper self-care integrates all of these things in a healthy balance, which is the opposite of what any good marketer (AKA corporate propagandist) will tell you. We’re all familiar with the “Treat Yo’self” mentality pushed on us in modern advertising.

Marketers tell you: “Hey, you deserve better.”

  • Buy the decadent chocolate
  • Upgrade to the Deluxe Suite
  • Get the latest release from your favorite luxury brands

If you trust modern marketers, then all you need to have a life of ultimate happiness is everything: the nice house, the fancy car, the designer clothes, the lavish nights out, etc. Should be easy enough to accomplish, right?

Unfortunately, the self-care movement, which started out with good intentions, has gotten sucked up into the same marketing machine as everything else.

So, what should the philosopher on a quest for genuine happiness do? In my opinion, it all starts with the two timeless philosophies of memento mori (remember death) and amor fati (love of fate).

Remember each day that death awaits you, and could pounce at any moment, and so the time for living is now. Also, accept that most of what happens in your life is beyond your control, but that you can choose to be happy no matter your circumstances.

To make friends of Death and Fate is to unlock limitless power to shape your perceptions and fabricate joy in your life.

To this end, I want you to remember one simple phrase: discipline is freedom.

Quote Of The Week

“How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself? . . . If you are careless and lazy now and keep putting things off . . . you will not notice that you are making no progress, but you will live and die as someone quite ordinary.” – Epictetus

The Freedom Paradox

Life is weird. As we age, we develop a sense of autonomy –– a feeling that we can do what we want when we want. It’s exhilarating.

  • We can enjoy pizza, ice cream, and beer as much as we want
  • We can stay up all night binging Netflix and video games
  • We can sleep in, skip the gym, and even go a few days without showering
  • We can swipe through an endless sea of potential mates on Tinder or Bumble
  • We can spend tomorrow’s money today with a little help from our credit cards
  • We can call out of work when if simply don’t feel like going in

The thing is, every one of our choices has consequences, and often what is pleasurable now leads to pain later.

For example, a lifetime of shitty eating and poor exercise ends up restricting our physical and financial freedom in the long run. Likewise, while spending on credit feels great in the moment, it can lead to headaches when something unexpected, like a global health or financial crisis, impacts our employment.

That’s the irony of freedom: discipline and restraint in the short term often yield greater freedom and more rewards in the long term:

  • By resisting the temptation to smoke, drink, and do drugs, we protect ourselves from preventable diseases in old age
  • By saving money in the present, we position ourselves to take advantage of better opportunities in the future
  • By making habits of healthy eating and exercise, we can have stronger bodies in old age, allowing us to travel and enjoy retirement more easily and safely
  • By setting aside time daily to learn new skills and absorb useful knowledge, instead of binging TV and video games, we set ourselves up for more success over time

To me, this is true self-care: loving the future you just as much as you love the present you. Sure, pricey margaritas and chocolate cake might sound great right now, but if you don’t set limits on yourself in the present, you’re likely to regret your choices in the future.

Here are a few simple ways I build healthy habits in my life:

  • I take daily walks, during which I either think about my life or listen to educational content
  • I read books daily, either fiction, nonfiction, or both, for at least 30 minutes
  • I journal every morning as a way to teach myself lessons I absorb from my study of philosophy through repetition
  • I do “detox months” a few times a per year where I will cut out things like alcohol, sugar, or social media
  • I avoid going out to bars and restaraunts except for some date nights and special occasions
  • I carve out time every week to hang out with my partner
  • I try to maintain as consistent of a sleeping schedule as I possibly can by waking up and going to sleep around the same time each day

I find that these simple habits improve my life dramatically over time. Reading and journaling help me grow as a person, walking and sleeping right help me regulate my energy and creativity, and “detoxing” helps me avoid getting sucked into toxic behaviors.

Now, here’s the thing: I’m no guru. I don’t maintain my “good habits” every single day. I frequently have lapses in judgement. I make plenty of bad choices. But that doesn’t matter –– what matters is that I’m actively trying to take care of myself, not just to do “self-care.”

And this is my exhortation to you: take care of yourself. You deserve it.

Question Of The Week

What’s one tiny habit that you could start building today which could change your life positively in 6-12 months? What’s one bad habit that you could kick in order to change your life positively in the next 6-12 months?


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