For some reason, the theme of wellness has been cropping up with depressing regularity on my Google news feed of late. Articles with titles like “Seven Tips for Living a Longer and Healthier Life,” “Ten Lifestyle Changes That Will Help You Achieve Your Potential,” “36 Habits of Successful and Annoyingly Smug Twats.” I know that the Cyber Overlord is always watching and listening, but I’m not quite sure why this digital tidal wave of “life hacks” (Jesus, I hate the terminology of the day) would be rolling across my screen these days. After all, “wellness” is not a subject I spend a whole lot of time or energy talking about or researching. I like to think this trend is down to the universe’s concern for my happiness and well-being. Only a cynical person would think it has anything to do with marketing and commerce.
I do take basic care to keep myself between the ditches, I suppose. I floss my teeth, sometimes choose the fish or chicken instead of the beef, try to avoid martinis before lunch, and pay my gambling debts on time.
But the truth is, I don’t really give much thought to all this clickbait-y, pseudoscientific, regurgitated lifestyle nonsense. Has anybody’s life actually been significantly improved by reading this shite? I would argue that far more people are negatively impacted by the stress and feelings of inadequacy brought on by worrying about all the ways they and their lifestyles don’t match up to some unrealistic ideal. Human beings, in my experience, are wildly inconsistent, and our psyches are a mess. Most of us carry about more psychological baggage than Air Canada loses on any given day. The best and most interesting people I know do not lead well-balanced, purposeful lives. They, like me, like most of us, are frequently sad, crazy, neurotic, dysfunctional, inappropriate, discontented, self-destructive, and lost. They stay up too late, talk too loudly, eat and drink too much, and make poor choices. But, also, now and then, they are inspired, transcendent, incandescent. Even beautiful. To paraphrase Othello, they may live none too wisely. But nevertheless, they live pretty well.
There are those people, things, and activities that enrich the quality of life, and those that diminish it. For me, porterhouse steaks, slide guitar, thick novels, Wild Turkey, the occasional cigar, and hanging out around a campfire with family and friends would all fit nicely into the former category. Small talk, bureaucracy, telemarketing calls, shopping malls, therapy, and unsolicited advice all belong in the latter. According to my extensive and scientific analysis, an hour or two spent walking my dog or playing pinball and catching the hockey playoffs with a friend in a dive bar will do more for me than a month and a half of counseling or lifestyle coaching.
In the end, all that really matters is that you find a way, hopefully often, to get a charge of joy out of the world. “Would You Like to Achieve a Growth Mindset?” The fuck I would. I just want to be left alone, so I can devote myself to the important business of living the hell out of life.