Sharp legal and social distinctions are often made between medicinal and recreational marijuana, with indistinguishable recreational marijuana typically having a dark cloud cast over it. Why the distinction? At universities in Zurich and The Netherlands the need for hedonism and recreation is getting a major overhaul.
We all set ourselves long-term goals from time to time, such as finally getting into shape, eating less sugar or learning a foreign language. Research has devoted much time to finding out how we can reach these goals more effectively. The prevailing view is that self-control helps us prioritize long-term goals over momentary pleasure and that if you are good at self-control, this will usually result in a happier and more successful life.
“It’s time for a rethink,” says Katharina Bernecker, researcher in motivational psychology at the University of Zurich. “Of course self-control is important, but research on self-regulation should pay just as much attention to hedonism, or short-term pleasure.” That’s because Bernecker’s new research shows that people’s capacity to experience pleasure or enjoyment contributes at least as much to a happy and satisfied life as successful self-control. […]
Bernecker and her colleague Daniela Becker of Radboud University…found that certain people get distracted by intrusive thoughts in moments of relaxation or enjoyment by thinking about activities or tasks that they should be doing instead. “For example, when lying on the couch you might keep thinking of the sport you are not doing,” says Becker. “Those thoughts about conflicting long-term goals undermine the immediate need to relax.” On the other hand, people who can fully enjoy themselves in those situations tend to have a higher sense of well-being in general, not only in the short term, and are less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, among other things. […]
Anti-hedonism in Western culture is linked not only to self-control but to a custom originating with Plotinus (204/5 – 270 C.E.); a neo-Platonist who maintained that hedonism leads to too much happiness and thereby an unwelcome death. The average life expectancy in the early Christian-Roman period was 26. Today’s average life expectancy in the United States is roughly 79. With death less immediate for many, and for quality of life issues in which death anxiety is reduced using psilocybin, there exist alternatives to prohibition and to drug wars.