I had a great time at TEDx last week and met many wonderful people, and had a couple of nice leads for some new projects. I had coffee with one of my new TED friends yesterday and we had a really interesting and free-ranging discussion about everything from diet to sabbaticals to how much each of us liked the gritty feel of downtown Kitchener streets (I like the feel a lot but it might just suit my frame of mind these days). One of the topics that came up had to do with weight control and food. Jaime mentioned that she had heard that if we made sure that 70% of the food we ate was food that we really liked, then we'd have fewer issues with overeating. It reminded me of an argument I'd once heard (I think this was part of a discussion of the famed fabulous French physique) that if one only ate things that were truly delicious then obesity could be eliminated. There are obviously some deep social issues here (would that more of us actually could afford to eat only delicious foods), but that's more or less an aside to the train of thought that left the station following this exchange.
What if you extended the notion of eating deliciously to more of your life, and in particular what about trying to live the delicious life by taking pains to dwell in delicious places? For example, when I look out my rainswept office window right now I see some beautiful trees, some interesting undulations in terrain and (finally) some green/brown patches of grass peeking out from under the snow. It's not exactly delicious, but it's not bad. In preparation for my talk last week, I went off in search of undelicious landscapes and I stumbled across a partially built box store mall so hideous that I had a hard time trying to figure out how to take a picture of it that would convey how it felt to stand in the muddy parking lot and take in the view (and I think ultimately I failed).
Are there ways that we can maximize our exposure to delicious vistas and minimize the time we spend with empty design carbs? It's tough. I think that we in North America have paid far little attention to the impact of the view on our feelings and, ultimately our health. Now, some recent encouraging developments suggest that this is beginning to change. At the Healing Cities Summit I attended in Vancouver last October, the explicit agenda was to understand how the organization of cities could contribute to human health, where this meant more than just access to healthy air, food and water, but also to healthy views. The idea has been floated of suggesting that physicians might prescribe time spent in parks as an alternative or a supplement to doses of Ritalin for ADHD or to anti-depressants.
Most of us battle with issues related to making healthy food choices. Maintaining good diet in a fast paced North American lifestyle is a challenge that requires careful and mindful decision making. But what about making healthy decisions about the places where we dwell and what views they present to us?