We’re brought up to think that sinning is bad for you. Lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, anger, envy and pride are supposed to be avoided at all costs, but sometimes it’s just human to give in. I, for one, love chowing down on chips while watching a movie, and yes, I have been known to stay in bed a little longer than I should in the morning. Everything in moderation, I like to say–even sinning! So it comes as a little bit of a surprise that all of these things that we have been told are “deadly” might actually be good for you psychologically.
At least that’s what Simon Laham is getting at in his new book The Science of Sin. I casually picked up this book, expecting a bunch of justifications for bad behavior, but found just the opposite; Laham talks about “sinning” in terms of your brain psychology and social behavior, which is truly fascinating. Here are some interesting points about sinning (in moderation!) that might actually help you live healthier:
- Gluttony is the sin that we hear the most about these days–obesity is on the rise, portion sizes are increasing, and processed foods are everywhere. But did you know that having more variety in what you can eat, helps to make healthier decisions? Laham says, “because choosing from a long list is more difficult than choosing from a short one, people tend to make decisions that are easier to justify” so they pick the fruit over the cookies. Think about that next time you’re ordering from a menu!
- Being lazy isn’t just a sin, it’s a bad habit for many people that isn’t valued in our fast-paced, results-driven society. But sloth has it’s perks too. When you momentarily zone out, and start daydreaming, try to remember what it is you’re thinking about. “When we day dream, [our mind] heads towards thoughts and feelings that are of some significance to us: our future plans, our everyday problems, our memories,” writes Laham. Sometimes your subconscious is more in control than you think and can help you highlight problems you didn’t even know were there, or figure out exactly what’s bothering you.
- No one likes a jealous friend. But some envy of your peers and colleagues can be a good thing. When you compare yourself “upwardly” with someone, it increases your own creativity. Why? Laham says it’s because “evnvy can change your expectations about what it is possible to achieve” and also “increases your general motivation to do well.” If your friends all have the newest bag, but you’re broke until your next paycheck, you might be more creative by DIYing your own version.
Remember: sinning is best in moderation!