I want to live a long time. Forever if possible. And I think there's an outside shot, with modern medicine, that we can live close to forever.
Basically three things kill humans - disease, old age, and trauma. It seems reasonable to me that medicine will eventually cure almost all disease and find ways to route around age-related decline and death.
Trauma's a tougher nut to crack. You're in a car crash, yeah, that's hard to reverse. But at some point, I think medicine cures basically all diseases and old age.
When? Well, I don't know. Computing power is on an exponential growth curve right now, and I don't think we've really scratched the surface of all that's possible with with computing and modern engineering and inventing and synergizing stuff. But history suggests that the exponential growth probably won't last forever, it'll probably flatten out.
How long does the rapid growth go? How fast does it come? These questions answer how long until disease and old age are beaten back. But I think there's a pretty good shot that medicine increases longevity at the same rate we age reasonably soon, and that gets you to the almost-immortality area.
I think playing around with your health these days is a bigger risk than in any other era of history. How would you like to be one of the last people who die of cancer before it's cured? Yeah, that would suck.
So I've worked to systematically eliminate, improve, and refine my health. Quit tobacco, liquor, recreational drugs, soda, sugar, pork and red meat. I still have a lot of work to do, but eventually I'd like to be eating a mix of pretty much only vegetables, some fruit, a bit of complex carbs, and seafood. Minimal additives beyond spices, no deep frying, minimal processing, high fiber, low-ish salt. Lots of water, a bit of tea. Jury's still out on coffee for me, not sure about that. Yes to good vitamins. Maybe some nootropics, HGH, synthetic testosterone, as long as they can be proved out to have beneficial effects to longevity without toxicity long term. Definitely yes to natural anti-inflammatories, probably yes to synthetic anti-inflammatories.
Why do I do this? Because it increases the odds I'll live longer. And 10 years of longevity might translate into 50 years. Let's say you've got a genetic predisposition to heart failure. If you live a bad-for-heart lifestyle, maybe you have heart failure at age 55 and that's the end of you. But if you stay in good health and heart conditions only come on at 65 years old due to good diet and lifestyle, then maybe medicine and engineering has the breakthroughs to keep you alive for another 20 years.
Then, what other breakthroughs could happen to push that further out? So, fighting for 5-10 years now might translate into getting an extra 50. It's possible.
It's all probabilities. There's no guarantees. You could live as healthy as you know how, and still get into a car crash and then the lights go off. Intelligent prevention and safety can and does reduce the risk of fatal trauma, but it'll never hit zero, and it's the hardest thing for medicine or engineering to cure.
But on balance, doing things that probably makes you live longer means you probably live longer. I think the stakes are pretty high - because of the rapid pace of advancement, fighting off adverse medical conditions for a few years might be the difference in getting decades longer to live.
Let's talk pleasure, then.
I used to love drinking good vodka, good beer, good sake, smoking hand-rolled cigarettes, smoking Djarim clove cigarettes, smoking good cigars, smoking sheesha. Like pretty much everyone, Coca-Cola and cakes and cookies all taste good. And I loved steak. Oh yes, I loved steak. And I've had some great steaks in my life. Really good ones.
But here's the funny thing. I quit all that stuff, and I don't think the net pleasure in my life has gone down.
Never mind that the probability I live decades longer is going up - I've had a couple near death experiences, and either one of them could've been the end of me. There's no guarantees, even if you're trying to do things right.
No, even before you even take the extra decades I might get into account - I think the net pleasure in my life is about the same.
You get 24 hours each day, every day, all of us. If you're living a normal lifestyle and not doing some kind of intense training, you're probably eating 1800 to 2800 calories per day.
I think my 24 hours of life-time and 1800-2800 calories stack up pretty well with most people's. Let's talk food first.
My current diet has lots of eggs, chicken, vegetables, fruit, rice, bread, and nuts. For breakfast, I'll usually have eggs, vegetables, beans, coffee, and bread. For lunch, a piece of fish or chicken, more vegetables, maybe some soup. For dinner, some rice or bread, some nuts, some raisins.
I still get a chicken sandwich or fries or pizza sometimes, but not too often and I'll quit that stuff eventually. It's habitual and I haven't trained/habituated it all out yet.
But really, a meal of fish, seafood soup, some rice, some mushrooms, some lettuce, some onions with a green tea? That's a tasty meal. There's plenty of ways to serve fish, chicken, eggs, nuts, vegetables, rice, fruit - mix it with some spices or a curry, and you've got a good meal. I'd stack it right up next to a big ol' piece of prime rib, which is indeed delicious. But I think I'm enjoying just the same.
The alcohol is a bit harder to get the benefits of. The biggest boost from alcohol is that it relaxes your inhibitions and you can let loose a little more. That's actually really valuable, true. Most people are inhibited and stifled all the time. You're expected to behave politically correctly, there's things you think that you're not allowed to say, there's behavior you'd like to do that you're not allowed to, and there's things you'd like to try but you're too scared. Alcohol solves all of that.
But with training (and not all that much training), I think it's possible to get all of that without drinking. I do all kinds of idiot absurd shit, and then, as an added bonus, I'm sober in case I've got to fix the idiot shit I did. While dead sober, I say the things that most people need to get 5-6 drinks in them to say. And you know what? It's alright, nothing irreparably bad happens.
I'd stack up my food pleasure and my relaxed-inhibitions pleasure with anyone. Beyond that, drinking costs a lot. With the cash someone drops in a weekend of drinking, I can go get a two hour massage and then hang out in a super-upscale cafe listening to the piano. And I'll say absurd shit in the upscale cafe too, so that's fun.
Tobacco is harder. The pleasure of smoking Montecristo cigars or sheesha is hard to replace, there's nothing really quite like tobacco. I suppose you can get training on how to relax and things like that, but smoking a cigarette or a cigar... it really is enjoyable. Especially when mixed with liquor.
No, that's the one that's hard to directly replace, that's true. The flipside is, though, that I'm banking on being able to sprint and breathe clearly and not cough and choke later. While the short term pleasure of tobacco is very fine, there's definitely a pattern of long term decline from it. I only smoked for like 4-6 years, but even then I noticed some nasty effects. A little less breath. After a day of heavy smoking, a really sore throat. I can only imagine what 40-60 years of smoking does to your breath and lungs and throat.
So it's true, I probably don't replace the exact soothing pleasure of cigarettes, but it comes at a high price. No, I don't mean the cash, though there's that. I mean being able to run down the beach without running out of breath at age 45. I'm banking on being able to do that.
Why am I writing this post? I'm not a preacher. I go out to the bar if I'm invited by someone I like, I order my club soda, and I keep to myself unless someone asks why I don't drink. I'll hang with people drinking, and people can eat whatever they like without hearing a peep from me at the restaurant.
But I wanted to write this post up for people who are wondering about quitting stuff. I think the benefits are potentially enormous, and I really think net-pleasure-in-life doesn't go down when you quit. Especially food, there's plenty of good food available that tastes just as good. Really, a good piece of grilled chicken stacks up pretty well with a steak, and I liked steak as much as anyone. But liquor and tobacco too, I think life is better overall without. Takes a little more effort, but overall I think it's worth it - even before considering the longevity.
No, I didn't write this post up to preach. Everyone makes their own judgments and tradeoffs, and it's cool however you choose. But if you do go to choose, you're going to ostracized and teased and knocked for it by people who feel... threatened or belittled or something.
Don't preach. There's nothing more insufferable than hearing someone who just quit smoking try to crusade against everyone near them. But don't give in, either. Honestly, I really think the following are true:
*A life of quitting the stuff that kills you can just easily contain as much pleasure as the stuff-that-kills-you lifestyle.
*With medicine progressing so fast, there's a chance that your lifestyle refinements translate into a decades longer life.
Decades of more sunrises and sunsets, seeing all the amazing technology that's getting invented, traveling and exploring new cultures, hearing new music, spending more time with your grandkids and great-grandkids, and maybe even great-great-grandkids and watching them all grow up and do stuff. Reading more books, writing more books, inventing and exploring and... all of that stuff.
So I think the stakes are high and the costs are low. The costs of quitting/refining are mostly just about installing the new habits/patterns and eliminating the old ones. Once you get into a healthier life, it's not all that hard to keep it going. But starting it is quite a lot of work.
I'm not going to try to preach and convert you. Where you draw your lines is totally your call, and it's a call everyone makes individually. But I think the stakes are quite high and the downsides to refining are very low. This post is for anyone who gets called crazy or ostracized for trying to refine your life. You're not crazy. You lose very little by refining, and you stand to gain an incredibly large amount. Refine on.