(1) The adjective that describes most modern behavior and attitudes is incoherence. Incoherence is simply the condition where one's behavior and attitudes can't be sensibly connected or, at worst, are in antagonistic conflict. What one thinks or does in one area is totally contrary or damaging to what one is doing or thinking in another area. The bad of incoherence is apparent on its face: it results in the canceling out of the positive effects of good behavior because some other negative behavior is so overwhelmingly detrimental to the whole.
This modern incoherence is particularly and most obviously and everywhere evident in contemporary behaviors surrounding bodily health and well-being.
(2) There are two sensible choices in this domain. Either one elects to do everything one can to bring the body to its greatest possible health, strength, longevity, and vigor (option Excellent Health); or one is indifferent to this objective and accepts whatever health, strength, longevity, and vigor (or lack thereof of any of these) that one gets in the ordinary course of things (option Whatever Health).
(3) Option Excellent Health requires some brief study of the behaviors and diet reliably proven to generate bodily health, longevity, and well-being. Although half of the Internet and almost any other popular magazine is devoted to this very subject, these principles can very briefly be summarized as follows:
- Diet: Excluding genetics, this is the most determinative factor that must be nailed for one to attain Excellent Health. Such ideal diet consists almost exclusively of reasonably low-sugar, high protein foods with 5-6 servings of fruits and vegetables/daily. Alcohol, if consumed, should be drank in strict moderation (5 or less drinks per week) with many two or more consecutive days of CERO (0) alcohol (this permits the liver to heal itself; the failure to do this greatly raises the risk of fatal liver disease, hypertension, obesity, and many other health maladies for the obvious reason that alcohol is a drug/poison). Sugary drinks and candy should be avoided or eliminated entirely; water and fruits are man's best friends. As a rough rule, such diet would preclude one from purchasing approximately 80-90% of foods in convenience stores, restaurants, and fast food outlets and perhaps even some 50-60% of foods in groceries.
- Exercise: Some amount of daily exercise sufficient to burn "extra" calories consumed and keep the heart "alive and well" is required. Almost any physical activity involving walking, running, or other active use of hands and legs will do. Unless one is pursuing athletic excellence for its own sake, one need not spend 2-3 hours per day engaged in vigorous exercise. Still less, does one need to do a marathon, triathlon, or other insane ultra-endurance event.
- Regular visits to the doctor, dentist, and all the rest for preventive care and consultation. Medicine has made so much progress that most bodily illnesses can be treated quickly provided the medical professionals are made aware of it and have an opportunity to act. This importantly includes the requirement to seek mental health care if one is suffering from depression or other very serious mental health maladies. Further included in this category is strict attention to known bodily vulnerabilities and defects (bee or wasp allergies, diagnoses high blood pressure, asthma, and all the rest).
- Sleep: 7-8 hours. Chronic over-workers usually fail this requirement.
- Hygiene and sanitation: Liberal use of showers, hand sanitizers, laundry duty, trashing of expired food, sunglasses and sunscreen, and all the rest.
- Sexual practices and behavior: Obvious.
- Car driving: Careful attention to brakes, wheels and tires, speed limits and stop signs, blood alcohol levels, and condition of the road. Generally, the lower one's speed the greater margin of error one provides oneself; further, any resulting impact will be reduced by virtue of the most basic rock-solid law of physics (F=ma).
The above principles are basic and should be obvious to any reasonably mature adult.
(4) The incoherence of modern persons is such that they often make some effort to pursue option Excellent Health. Most of us do, in fact, "cherry pick" one or more behaviors we otherwise enjoy and then use it as justification to convince ourselves that we are "healthy" and getting ever "healthier." We do in fact go to the gym for 30-45 minutes here and there; after reading some "scientific study," we do something or other to our diet in the name of good health (no soda or cookies or red meat); we regularly get 8 hours of sleep; we practice yoga or run a marathon; and all the rest. Having done this, we then believe we are actually achieving Excellent Health and lose sight of other behaviors that are simultaneously compromising our health and longevity, often severely.
Importantly, the body does not think or keep score in the (very generous) ways we would like it to. The body does not say to itself we are now running six miles a day and so it's not such a big deal that we are drinking too much alcohol or not getting enough sleep or engaging in risky sexual behaviors or constantly depressed. The body does not think "dehydration" is OK since we are doing such a great job washing our hands and bodies with expensive soaps. Our cars and bikes aren't shielded from accidents on the road caused by excessive speed just because we eat broccolli and spinach all the time.
The body, pursuing the laws of biology, does no thinking of this sort whatsoever but simply executes the commands of cells, tissues, and organs. Each and every unhealthy behavior that compromises the body has its effect; and the effects can- and usually do- swallow the effect of other positive behaviors promotive of health. In light of this, it is incoherent to delude oneself that one is healthy on the basis of one or more positive behaviors if one is simultaneously engaging in one or more (and often many more) behaviors destructive of health and longevity.
(5) Option Whatever Health is actually not incoherent. It is not a good strategy because one lives fewer years, and in poorer health, and is thus not sub-optimally situated from a physical perspective to attain the GOOD in its full and complete dimensions. But still Option Whatever Health is non-deceptive. The person is indifferent to health and all of its demands and simply wants to live as he wishes without any attention to health's demands. He perhaps even knows reduced longevity and health is the ultimate result of this strategy but- all in all- he doesn't care or doesn't care that much to do anything about it. If he gets 40 years, that's fine; 50, good by me too; 60 or more, wohoo!