A lot of people don’t look or act their age. We all know 40-year-olds who act a curmudgeonly 60, but we also know people who look and act much, MUCH younger than they actually are. They do it without crazy plastic surgery, crystal meth energy vitamins, Dorian Gray mirrors, or vampire rituals.
We visited some friends like this in Cleveland a couple weeks back. Even though they’re past retirement age, they look and act 25 years younger. They look it – they’re trim and fit. They act it – they’re engaged, curious, interested, funny, and excited about new things.
One night I learned more about their secret sauce. We were at a basketball game, and my friend brought back a bunch of concession food to eat and drink. As he passed them out, he said, “It’s one of the 4 Splurge Days.”
I channeled my inner Homer Simpson and mumbled, “Can’t talk . . . eating.” After I recovered from my nacho binge, I asked what he meant. He explained that when you’re thinking about what to eat when, it’s too easy to think of reasons why you can splurge any day you want. To prevent that, he and his wife have 4 Splurge Days a year.
Wow. Some diets give you one “cheat day” every week. It’s the one day a week where – if you’ve been a good boy or girl – you can eat whatever you want. This sounds great because it means only six more days until you can put on the sweat pants and head back to the buffet.
But 4 Splurge Days a year is extreme.
My friend’s view was that a weekly cheat day or splurge day is the same as 52 splurge days a year. Before long, however, 52 splurge days a year can easily turn into 62 and then into 162. At that point, you can think of a reason why you could splurge on any occasion: “I had a bad day; I had a good day; it’s Friday; it will be a Friday,” and so on.
They call this the Tyranny of the Moment. Any moment of any day, we can come up with a reason why we can do whatever it is we want to do. There is only one thing that is strong enough to defeat the Tyranny of the Moment.
My friend’s 4 Splurge Day rule built a habit of not overeating. It might seem extreme, but it also might help explain why he and his wife look and act so really extremely young.
If only I hadn’t used my 4 Days up last week.
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I'm Brian Wansink, and I've worked with wonderful researchers to discover insights on how to help people become happier, more effective, and more meaningfully connected.
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