That’s actually the name of a political party here in New York; yet another reason that makes me love this city, though I must admit I’ve never actually voted for it.
Reason I’m writing this, is I’ve been musing on a concept brought to me my a lovely Facebook commenter, who stated
“I found myself “healtifying” myself into a frothy quandary, although it did not feel obsessive or harmful to me in the middle of it. I looked at me being diligent, caring for myself, protecting my health, just being inquisitive. I would not have told you I paid much mental rent on all this stuff, it seemed I paid more mental rent without it.”
That’s exactly how I felt about my many health-related behaviors until recently. I knew I was devoting a fair bit of time and brain space on tracking, on analyzing the data, on reading health blogs and newsletters, on exercise, and just generally thinking about all things health-related. I used to think of it as this slightly nutty hobby, perhaps a bit over the top but mostly a good thing, since anything to do with health is good, no?
And then I did the ultimate Quantified Self meta-analysis. I analyzed how much time I’d spend on an average day on all that stuff I just listed:
– Logging, tracking, downloading and analyzing step, sleep, weight, energy expenditure, calorie, money, mood and activity data: 20 minutes
– Following a gazillion health related blogs, sites, Twitter and Facebook feeds: 20 minutes
– Exercise including walking beyond what I would have normally walked: 90 minutes or more
– Just generally thinking/obsessing about my health, what I’m eating, what I weigh, tracking: 20 minutes
Even if some of this is taking place consecutively, we’re talking over two hours a day.
That’s the rent I’ve been paying on this crazy obsession.
Well, there is an opportunity cost to spending over two hours a day on thinking and doing health-related stuff – namely, all the other activities I could have done or thought about instead. Two hours a day is 1.5 months a year, assuming a 16 hour day. Now, I’m not saying all this time was wasted – doing exercise is generally a good thing, and occasionally thinking about your health is probably wise. But even a month spent learning a new skill, with my family, studying, reading or who knows what else would have yielded greater dividends.
This is an art installation by Darren Almond, an English artist and photographer, that I saw well over a decade ago, but it stayed with me.
It’s a giant clock the size of a shipping container. Every second a number flips down, just like with a much smaller alarm clock. While it looks rather mundane in pictures, it is as an installation quite haunting. The numbers turning over create the relentless noisy drum beat of time passing by, of a countdown to some unknown end, an urgency to hang on to time that’s evaporating in front of you.
You only live one life, so be careful who you are paying rent to.