Feb 14

Nurturing ourselves & Rejecting Hedonism

There is something terribly wrong with our society, as watching the news shows. It is my opinion that one of the fundamental problems with American society is that is hedonistic. I know there is something so intellectual about that statement that it might cause someone to gloss over it. You may be rolling your eyes and thinking, “She’s trying to sound smart.” Cut me some slack for a moment, and I will prove to you why my first statement is true.

When in doubt about a word, grab the dictionary. The word hedonistic is defined in the Concise Oxford Dictionary as, “the pursuit of pleasure; sensual self-indulgence.” It is derived from the word hedonism, which is defined as, “the ethical theory that pleasure (in the sense of the satisfaction of desires) is the highest good and proper aim of human life.” Does that sound familiar to you? Pick up a copy of a woman’s fashion magazine. I have an old issue of “In Style” sitting on my computer desk. I had a feeling it would come in handy. As I peruse the table of contents I see an article called “Glamour in Focus.” The article is about “what it takes to turn heads today.”

Not quite convinced that “In Style” represents hedonism? There is an article titled, “Objects of Desire,” in the “shopping” section. It’s on page 512 so I pause for a moment to turn to it…Okay, I found it. The article features “objects of desire” that celebrities supposedly love to buy. One of them is a candle that costs $125. Yes, you read that right. Are you beginning to see what I mean?

When in doubt, go back to the dictionary. The word culture is defined as, “the customs, institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or group.” Just for clarification, allow me to tell you the definition of customs: “A practice followed as a matter of course among people.” Putting all the words together, the custom of American people is to do whatever it takes to gratify themselves.

That custom is particularly alluring for women because we are taught to care for others from the time we are toddlers. How many of you reading this article had dolls when you were little girls? Raise your hands. My hand is raised with you. I can remember my mother telling me how to take care of my “baby.” I am four and a half years older than my sister, and as a child my parents always reminded me to “watch out for your little sister.” I am sure older brothers are told that as well, but for females it begins a pattern. Growing up, we were always encouraged to be nurturers. While there is nothing wrong with that, we were not taught to nurture ourselves. Perhaps one of the reasons I am not married yet is because I do not think I have learned how to nurture myself enough.

Nurturing yourself is an essential skill to learn in order to be a joy-filled person. Hedonism is the polar opposite of nurturing, for it seeks after pleasure no matter what the cost to other people. Nurturing seeks to love oneself in ways that do not harm others. Everyday we are inundated with advertisements, television shows, and movies that encourage us to be hedonistic. Hedonism is the wrong path to take to be able to compete in this male dominated society. It will not rejuvenate us, or make us better people.

Embracing the concept of nurturing is the best way to inoculate ourselves from hedonism. When was the last time you lit scented candles in your bathroom, turned off the lights, and sank into a bathtub full of bubbles? Or splurged on a Swedish massage? Taking care of ourselves, i.e. nurturing ourselves, is not wrong. It is not hedonistic, but its opposite. We will have more to give those around us if we make sure our needs are met.

How do we reject the hedonism which permeates our society? A good place to start is by not buying or subscribing to magazines that encourage us to focus solely on ourselves; like the issue of “In Style” sitting on my desk. (For the record, I borrowed it from my mother.)

What else can you do? Stop watching any television shows that have hidden hedonistic themes. “I don’t watch any of those shows,” you are probably thinking right now. Do you secretly watch a reality show? American Idol, for example. I am admittedly not an expert on that show, as I have only watched one episode, but that one episode was enough for me to decide that American Idol is as hedonistic a show as you can have on the air. What is more hedonistic than a show that seeks to create instant celebrities?

As I come down off my soap box, I leave you with one last thought. The best way to for us to combat hedonism in our society is to combat it in ourselves.

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