My personal problem with the world isn’t that everyone appears to be chasing after their own self-interest, it’s that they do so in such a short-sighted way. People seem to pursue dangerous short-term pleasures over long-term security and its pleasures. In my youth, I wasn’t as bad on this issue as most of my peers and I have avoided all forms of psychoactive drugs all my life and don’t think I missed out on much in the form of short-term pleasures but certainly gained a lot in long-term health.
The big exception to that general statement is that I smoked cigarettes for several years while in college and at the time didn’t consider them to be a drug. However, I was addicted to them as became apparent to me when I was unsuccessful in quitting. Many times I did quit for over a month, only to be back up to a pack a day after accepting a single cigarette. I would probably still like to smoke a single cigarette after dinner, but I discovered by the hard path of multiple experiences of failure that I just couldn’t do it. One cigarette a day was great, then one after every meal seemed okay, then one when while drinking some coffee with friends, then the conversation would go on for a while and more cigarettes would get smoked, and a month later I was up to a pack a day again. I haven’t smoked for about fifty years but I have little doubt that I would soon be back up to a pack a day if I started again. So, I don’t even consider starting and avoid situations where people smoke.
I do drink about a single drink of alcohol per day, but a single drink doesn’t have any, or very little, psychoactive effect. I drink that small amount because the science seems to prove that it actually helps health and longevity. When I do go to parties I have only one drink and then go home early. I’m not being a party avoider, I just keep it short. I decided long ago, while in Berkeley, not to go to the Steppenwolf bar in the evenings where I had many friends, but instead to go to the Mediterraneum coffee-shop where I also had many friends. Fifty years of that kind of conversation in a bar would undoubtedly have converted me into an alcoholic, as it did to those whom I knew there. Some, after crawling home repeatedly from the Steppenwolf, went on the wagon and moved to the Med. Some didn’t and went other places.
There are many similar activities that we participate in as young adults that are obviously counterproductive to our long-term well-being. It is easy to ask oneself the question, “Do people who do this every day for fifty years become happy, healthy, wise and wealthy?”
If doing something one time is stupid, don’t cultivate it as a habit.