In an era dominated by the pursuit of extremes, where maximum performance, ceaseless productivity, and relentless hustle culture vibes are not only valued but glorified, the modest concept of moderation might appear terribly passé. It lacks the intoxicating allure of excess, the breathless thrill of pushing boundaries, the lustrous glamour of living on the edge.

Moderation is less ‘grammable, less exceptional, less RAD. Yet, as ancient philosophers and contemporary researchers would argue, moderation—despite its humble, unassuming exterior—may hold the keys to a successful, balanced, and indeed, a zestful life.

Aristotle, in his Nicomachean Ethics, argued that a virtue is the mean between two vices: one of deficiency, the other of excess. This "doctrine of the mean" posits that living a virtuous and successful life involves finding this golden middle way. In our modern world, where the vices of deficiency and excess are often manifest as indolence or overwork, deprivation or gluttony, detachment or obsession, Aristotle's ancient wisdom is strikingly relevant.

Quality over Quantity

three people having a toast on table
"Avoid extremes; and shun the fault of such, who still are pleased too little or too much." - Alexander Pope

Consider, for instance, our approach to physical well-being. A 2023 study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health revealed that individuals who exercised regularly but moderately reported higher overall health scores and longevity markers than their counterparts who pursued high-intensity workouts with religious fervor. The study echoes a timeless adage, seldom observed in practice: quality over quantity.

Similar findings abound in the realms of nutrition and social engagement. Both abstaining from pleasure and overindulging can lead to discontent, the former resulting in deprivation, the latter in potential health risks. Socially, withdrawing from interactions can cause loneliness and depression, while constant engagement may lead to burnout. In each case, striking a balance—a moderate approach—promotes well-being.

Beyond physical and social health, moderation has also shown its merits in the professional sphere. Despite the pervasive "hustle culture" urging us to work incessantly for success, studies indicate that overwork leads not only to decreased productivity but also heightened stress levels and increased risk of burnout. Moderation in professional efforts, interspersed with rest and leisure, might, paradoxically, be a more efficient route to achievement.

Embracing Moderation

man surfing during daytime
Moderation in all things, especially moderation." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

To embrace moderation is not to reject ambition, pleasure, or passion. On the contrary, it encourages us to relish them sustainably, extending their benefits over a lifetime rather than a fleeting moment. It advocates for consistent and steady progress rather than a hasty rush towards an arbitrary finish line. It is the gentle reminder to pause, breathe, and experience life in its fullness without storming headlong into the tumult of excess or retreating into the shadows of deficiency.

True, moderation may not deliver the adrenaline rush of extreme living, the manic thrill of living life on a razor's edge. But it offers something quieter, yet more enduring—a harmony of mind, body, and soul; a deep, abiding satisfaction; and a resilience that buffers the inevitable storms of life.

So, while it might not be as flashy as its counterparts, it's time we give moderation its rightful place in the spotlight—it is, after all, a strategy for the long game, a blueprint for a successful life that is as fulfilling as it is enduring.

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