Thursday, October 6, 2016

Pears and pineapples

I like to think about what choices I should make in various situations.  For example, if I am buying fruit in the winter I know that bananas are a better environmental and monetary choice than nearly any other fruit since they are cheap because they can be shipped here slowly on a boat and that also makes them a good choice in terms of being low emissions.

Sometimes though I struggle to figure out how to compare two totally different scales.  For example, this year I have been working out a lot.  I like the results.  I look better, I feel better, I am healthier.  But I am eating a lot more protein, and that has a cost.  It seems to me that environmentally speaking bodybuilding is a ridiculous and damaging pursuit.  Being big at the cost of a couple thousand eggs seems bad.

But being healthy is good.

So how do I compare these things?  What can I do to even put those things on the same scale?

It baffles me.

It is further complicated by odd feelings about the very idea of looking good.  People grade each other on a scale based on what else they see around them.  Being the richest person in your social group is a huge bump in terms of happiness, no matter which strata of wealth your social group falls into.  Same goes for how you look.  10,000 years ago people didn't go about thinking that everyone's hair was awful, they just graded it on the curve.

Which means that if I get bigger (and, by most people's metrics, hotter) then I am making everyone else around me feel less hot.  So while that isn't exactly evil, it is definitely an argument against working out being a general good.  It is like some kind of bizarre mad scientist's machine - lifting weights transfers a slight amount of hotness from all the people I know to me.

All of which is saying that working out is good for me, but I have these weird feelings like it isn't actually good for the world.

Not that this is going to stop me from lifting, mind, but it is going to make me think about this stuff a lot while I do.


  1. I think if you get bigger, thus hotter, you may exude even more confidence in yourself. that kind of confidence is contagious :) You may find you make others in your entrourage feel more confident in themselves too.
    And you know what they say, the sexiest thing you can wear is self confidence. :)

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  3. *Sigh* I just wrote a long response and the page decided to eat it. I will try this again...

    I don't think it's a matter of right or wrong, I think it's a matter of personal priorities. These can change over time and can be something you are not conscious of or it can be something you decide to be mindful about.

    I mentioned to you that I am seeing what happens if I prioritize my health in all decision-making for one week. So far it's been really challenging because I've had to deliberately place less emphasis on things that would normally be higher priority for me (my job, responsibilities towards other people, immediate gratification, being financially responsible, etc.)

    With the exception of taking care of dependants (if you've chosen to have a kid or a pet or a spouse who is financially or otherwise dependant or to look after an elderly parent etc., I don't think you get to make them a lower priority), I don't think it's a moral consideration - it's just personal choice.

    As for the relative hotness/wealth/happiness thing, that hasn't been my personal experience but I will take your word for it - it wouldn't surprise me if most people thought that way and I assume you did your research.

    In which case, thanks for stealing some of my hotness; it's really just too much for me sometimes. You are doing a great service to the world ;P

    -The Flautist

    1. The research shows a correlation between money and happiness. However, it doesn't apply when people are just as wealthy as their neighbours. Which makes sense - otherwise either everyone was miserable all the time in the impoverished past, or everyone would be ecstatic at all times today. Wealth only informs our happiness insofar as it provides the necessities of life (which caps out pretty fast) or as it makes us feel like we are doing better than our neighbours.

      This is well established, but of course it doesn't apply to every person, just as a statistical thing across populations. If you want to be happy, a good way to do that is to be around people poorer than you. Which, of course, makes them less happy.

      Yes, this sort of thing makes me weep for humanity at times.