This week I dug this post by Mark Sisson, ex-marathoner and current loud advocate of what he calls a Primal lifestyle. While his dietary recommendations only somewhat work for me, I really love his attitude, writing style and sense of humor, and keep returning to his blog for inspiration.
Getting “high on life” may sound like a cliched holdover from the “Just Say No” generation, but I find it really valuable as a concept because I place a very high value on pleasure and ecstasy for optimal health and happiness. While Sisson jokes around a bit (“If that sounds like it involves a shaman, some cactus cuttings, and monotonous chanting over a fire, I don’t blame you”), I do see and respect the spiritual benefits of meditation, chanting, ecstatic dance, and even the responsible use of substances to achieve ecstatic states and commune with whatever divine you jibe with. (For some people, those in recovery from addictions, for example, substances are out of the question: I highly recommend this great series called The Dance of Pagan Recovery.)
Sisson’s post, though, is more about that deep evolutionary drive we all have to experience pleasure. Pleasure, he says,
is the carrot dangled by the body to get us to do the things we need to survive and prosper. It helps us reach important survival goals. But we’re not ascetics. Experiencing and appreciating pleasure as its own entity is necessary for true happiness and life contentment. Our genes expect us to feel good, not just do the tasks that feeling good compels us to complete.
The rest of his post tells us why things like different kinds of exercise, controlled risk, sex, nature, spicy food, music, and laughter help activate the pleasure centers in the brain. He classically does a ton of research, so there’s lots of juicy studies and links in there, too.
Even without studies, though, I recommend that this weekend, you put on some of your favorite music, have some juicy sex (solo or with a partner), and then go dance in the rain.
Have a great weekend, everyone.
2 thoughts on “How to get high on life. No, seriously.”
I am often surprised by what kinds of things fill this function. They often aren’t what I’d expect.
And I can’t always even process the information in a coherent way. Like, it always surprises me, every fucking time, how ecstatic an experience opening up my hips is. (And how poorly I can explain what I mean by that to someone who doesn’t understand what I mean already.) I know this, but I don’t know this.
For the record, I know what you mean. 🙂
What often surprises me is singing. The first time, in Chorale, that we really opened ourselves up to sing “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” I found I almost couldn’t manage it because, in spite of my lack of connection with the Christian message of the song, I was holding back tears.
Words get me sometimes, too; last night, watching As You Like It at Springstep, I was struck by how much the love and care that Actors’ Shakespeare Project always takes with the words moved me – and how much that play and its little moments still gets to me. The tears in both cases are not sadness, but a kind of ecstasy.