Which tastes better? The first bite of that huge piece of mouth-watering chocolate cake or the last?

Most say the first and by the last, our taste buds have adapted and we are often eating on autopilot. Yet both bites have the same amount of calories and oh, that sugar-high crash! But nothing tastes as good as fit feels…

Under-indulgence is the process of savoring life by choosing to take it in smaller doses, little bits that we can really dive deep into, taking the time to taste the full flavor of the experience. Too often in life, we unquestioningly associate more with better. More money = more happiness is one of the most commonly accepted “universal truths.” Most of us are sophisticated enough these days to say that we know money, once beyond the basics, does not equate to happiness BUT if we “listen to the behavior” and not our words, our actions give lie to what we say. Most of us still chase material rewards as if they were the Holy Grail.

As you grow in self awareness—as you set written, nested goals for all the roles in your life, as you journal and pay more attention to what truly makes you joyous, what you remember and treasure—you will start to break old, habitual consumption-based assumptions (Madison Avenue programming?) as to what brings you happiness and pleasure. You will then start forming new, truer linkages based on your personal experiences as to what brings you bliss, delight, and contentment, what makes you bound out of bed and greet the day with exhilaration, what you look forward to with anticipation and remember with a warm smile. Odds are it will be shared experiences, moments of community and bonding, times of kinship, or savoring meaningful achievement won by hard work and sustained effort.

Closing quotes:

“The banquet is in the first bite”  — “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual,” by Michael Pollan (economists call this the law of diminishing marginal utility)

“There are limits to self-indulgence, none to restraint.”  — Mahatma Gandhi; 1869-1948

“Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness, not pain or mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity.”  – Ayn Rand; 1905-1982

(This post is inspired by “Don’t Indulge. Be Happy.” The New York Times, July 8, 2012)