Noble Indulgence: The Ultimate Trick for Self-Delusion

This is a Humpty Dumpty cake. It is one of the most advanced cakes out there, consisting of 13 different steps!

“If you make people perform a noble duty, it bores them. If you make them indulge themselves, it shames them, but combine the two and you’ve got them.”
~Gail Wynand

When I read this quote from The Fountainhead some years ago, it lit my head on fire.

Haha! This is the truth!  I thought

It just clicked.

And it turned out I was right. It has proven to be a really useful mental concept for me ever since.

A noble indulgence is a compelling narrative used to rationalize a primitive drive or self-serving behavior under the guise of a nobler intention.

It does away with the shame or guilt for having the urge in the first place.

Here are some noble indulgences you know of:

  • Family-sized packages of junk food. [Combine gluttony with sharing and friendship]
  • Cake-baking competitions for housewives [Ernest Dichter’s magnum opus].
  • Greed is good [act on your short-sighted greed so I can profit on your stupidity ~Gordon Gekko]
  • Yogurt, juice and cereal are healthy. [Sugar tastes good and people want to feel like they care about their health]
  • “If it fits your macros” [eat what you want as long as you can count it.]
  • Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. [You don’t need it. But your body is broken out of Homeostasis from waking up and has to cope with the stress, so it tricks you.]

Then there are a bunch of other examples where it’s less intuitive that it’s a noble indulgence that’s causing people to believe in foolish things.

Like this gem of ultimate noble indulgence from Joanne Rowling:

“So you impose a hierarchy, you have bigotry, and this notion of purity, which is a great fallacy, but it crops up all over the world. People like to think themselves superior and that if they can pride themselves on nothing else, they can pride themselves on perceived purity.”

Her Harry Potter billions are not the result of eccentric habits.

If you want to know more about noble indulgences and how they interact with post-rationalizations and coping mechanisms to trick you into dwelling in homeostasis, read my book.

Here’s from the chapter about noble indulgence:

A noble indulgence lets you both have the cake and eat it….

You can see this a lot in diets and exercise fads. Oh, you don’t want to give up eating bacon and pancakes? We’ll make a special diet for you. What’s that, you also don’t want to do deadlifts and squats? We’ll make a special training program for you… these “diets” and “programs” are far from optimal, but they become popular because they are psychologically appealing.

The most important thing to know about noble indulgences is that biological drives don’t need a rationalization.

The world doesn’t need more sophisticated reasons to indulge. It needs higher standards, like Ancient Rome.

* * *

It’s been almost a month since I released BOOH, and it’s still going strong.

Thanks for the support!

Questions: Do you know of any other noble indulgences? When was the last time you or someone you know succumbed to a noble indulgence?

Comments

  1. Very Impressed (not) says:

    You are right wirh this post and I read your book and liked it but haven’t left a review yet. Can you convince me?

    The real thing will be whether to differ between noble indulgence and other more common things, the examples you pick here anyone can think of.

  2. Nobel Indulgences:
    Here’s a few I recorded after reading your book: (Some of them are from me directly and from my observations) I noticed some of these can be identify as rationalizations.
    1. Browsing junk news sites like reddit, twitter etc: I want to read another article, there might be another good article with information I need to know in the future.
    2. I need to get wasted, it’s good to have fun after all of the hard work I did this week.
    3. I don’t know the answer to this.. I’ll look up on Facebook or YouTube for the answers (eventually leads to wasting 1 hour)
    4. I must be an introvert because I love to work from home (avoiding discomfort and overcoming social anxiety) Introvert are smart look at Jeff bezoes, Warren buffet.
    5. I’m afraid to go up to that girl because if I get rejected it will be embarrassing and I might see her again the next time I’m buying groceries. I’d rather go on tinder or bumble
    6. Masturbation is good, it prevent cancer. Masturbation is natural
    7. Documentaries are educational I learn a lot. (Mostly bullshit trivia shit with hidden biases and agendas)
    8. Highfats diet is healthy i should eat bacon and butter all of the time. Including deep fried foods.
    9. Sometimes you got to live your life. Follow up with something stupid like having unprotected sex, drugs etc.
    10. I know I’m smart I have a lot of potential, I read self development blogs and my friends don’t – I know I will eventually get what I want – then do something mindless like watch 3-5 hours of YouTube and Netflix.
    11. Guy sees a girl that’s more attractive with a ugly dude – Girls only care about looks and money – she’s with him for status and money. Most girls are gold diggers and bitches anyways – proceed to blame the world. And don’t improve oneself
    12. I’ll start eating healthy when I’m 40, I want to live my life right now.
    13. Smoking weed make you more creative, no one have died from weed. People been smoking weed for thousands of years.
    14. I believe everyone life is immensely important, it’s not about the money. We all have infinite amount of potential. God made us therefore we are valuable. – usually someone who haven’t done shit in their life.
    15. It’s not my fault I’m depressed, my parents were abusive. That’s why I’m not successful.
    16. Being single is better – The reasons why I’m not getting a lot of dates because girls nowadays are bitchy they only care about looks and money.
    17. Execution is everything, ideas are cheap. Rationalization why oneself shouldn’t read.
    18. You either born an entrepreneur or not. (From Gary Vee) I’m not an entrepreneur, I never sold lemonades when I was younger. It make sense for me to work in my job.
    19. Failures are a good thing, it’s okay to learn when you’re young – proceed to do something stupid repeatedly.
    20. It’s all about the product, if you have a good product you don’t need marketing. Rationalize why you shouldn’t learn how marketing works
    21. White people are the reason why I’m not successful. I’m being held down by a white dominated society – rationalizing failures. Although this could be true. Maybe 1-2% of the time. But nowadays companies can’t afford to not hire competent people. People will buy your product regardless of your skin color.

    • That’s ridiculous. You are quite the meta-thinker. I don’t think I had more than maybe 10 examples in my book.

      I am copying this too. Thanks!

      Rant below on things I disagree with:
      _________________

      “Sometimes you got to live your life. Follow up with something stupid like having unprotected sex, drugs etc.”

      –LOL½!
      I heard a song today and it went like this “”I just did some crazy shit tonight…. this will be the best memory for me!”, it’s a popular club song from a few years ago, I remember it played all the time when I was in university and went to the “university pubs”.

      Another one: “You know you’re something special and you know that you look the best!”
      ~Duran Duran

      “17) Execution is everything, ideas are cheap. Rationalization why oneself shouldn’t read.”
      –You always hear this from stupid people who wouldn’t read ANYWAY.
      On the other hand, you can always go too far. I read too many books in 2017. This year, I am setting my limit at 20 books.

      18) I’m not an entrepreneur either, but watch me in the coming 5 years or so.

      • Im glad it was helpful! Your work is amazing man. I’m curious what do you mean by meta thinker? I haven’t finish your book yet (your book takes a long time to digest, in a good way lol). I have to admit a lot of the examples came from me and because of self reflection I was able to caught myself in the cycle. Have you ever thought of creating a slack channel or facebook groups? I think it would be super interesting to have a lot of smartie BooH in a group sharing ideas how to implement what results they have been getting. I think without accountability and a positive community it’s pretty difficult to implement everything.

      • As Yoda would say: “He who support group needs, failed has he already.”

      • Meta-thinker: Hm. I don’t have a definition for it, but someone who takes a concept and plays around with it…

        FB-Group: We have a big one for the Swedish podcast. Maybe we will turn it international eventually.
        I don’t have a slack channel for BOOH. It may be a good idea, but I wouldn’t be too active in it personally, so I’d feel a bit bad about starting it.

  3. Hey, how about people who would never give a dime to charity voting for politicians who promise to help the homeless?

  4. Re breakfast, I don’t think it’s an indulgence unless one insists on eating pork fat and refined carbs (i.e. a stereotypical American breakfast) or making it the biggest meal of the day – combined, this is a recipe for a sluggish morning, hypoglycemia by lunch time and eventual morbid obesity.

  5. I enjoy these idea posts of yours.

  6. Whoa up there with Sapiens, thats big, way to go man!

  7. People who go to church on Sundays for gossip and a sermon about how God wants them to be happy and will forgive anything they do – and by Sunday evening they are doing it.

    Refusing to drive (and therefore avoiding employment) because cars pollute (yes I know there are places where cars aren’t required, most of America is not those places).

    Majoring in history, philosophy, psychology, art, business, etc. for “education”.

    A lot of junk food carries labels touting some alleged nutritional content. Sure, eat that frozen pizza for the calcium…

    “Low carb” diets are usually just an excuse to eat lots of fat.

    “Overtraining” is almost always an excuse for undertraining.

    Fat women who won’t exercise because they’re afraid they might get visible muscles.

    Drinking red wine “for health”. Smoking weed “to be sociable”.

    Vandalism and theft “to fight the system”.

    Dodging the military draft “because war is wrong”.

    Invading weaker nations “to Christianize our little brown brethren” or “to liberate them” and “bring them democracy” or “protect them from Communism”.

    Wasting endless hours on Facebook “to keep up with people” you don’t really give a shit about.

    Venting on Ludvig’s blog expecting someone to read it…

    • Hahaha your comments are gold man. For the record you are spot on about pollution. I think it was Peter Thiel who said that he didn’t believe in Green energy etc, but he and his friends saw it was catch ingen on as a *trend* and had become a status thing so they invested just based on that.

      • Thank you Anon, I always enjoy your comments also.

        I agree Green Energy is a fad – and a lot of it is more damaging to the environment, for the energy yielded, than fossil fuels. Same with a lot of other “Green” fads. But I’m not sure the pretended nobility is really an indulgence for the consumer, who is paying more for less. For the promulgators and producers, it is certainly an indulgence – especially when they are subsidized by the taxpayers – but I suspect many of them are conscious fraudsters, or at least have no interest in the environment.

    • You got some good examples there. I’m gonna copy them into my commonplace.

      This one I don’t agree with:
      ” Dodging the military draft “because war is wrong”.

      • And how is it not a noble indulgence – the clearest example thereof? “Resisting” war by avoiding personal risk and sacrifice. I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it myself, if there was a draft and I was (a few days) younger, but I don’t think one in one thousand “conscientious” objectors would turn down military service if that was the safer and more lucrative course.

  8. Book is fucking awesome, congrats on it!! I’ll get a physical copy too when you finish it.

    But I don’t get the part from JK Rowlings

    • I appreciate the support, Petter!

      J.K Rowlings:
      It’s the ultimate noble indulgence because it ennobles HOMEOSTASIS. You can feel cool/proud/superior without achieving or putting in any effort at all.

  9. Yes I have seen this a lot but haven’t been able to put it in words or draw the connection until now.

    The last time I saw this was in one of my friends who was jealous that a co-worker of hers was cheating at work to get away with doing less and she also wanted to do it and figured it was ok since she was not the first.

    This could maybe be said to be that “everyone else is cheating therefore you should too” it might not fit the biological drive part, or maybe it does? but I think it’s similar.

    The last time I succumbed to a noble indulgence was in the grocery store by buying juices. Haha!

  10. No, but I can elaborate how I understand the examples you gave.

    Family-size junk food packs: “It’s ok, you’re not eat gonna eat it all yourself..”
    Cake-baking competition: “When you win, all of the neighbourhood will respect your cooking..”
    Greed is good: “It’s not a bubble, everyone else is doing it…”
    Yogurt, juice, cereal: “It’s ok, I saw it on TV…”
    If it fits your macros: “You might not have discipline, but you like to measure things — so it’s ok…”
    Breakfast: “I’ve got to have the most important meal of the day…”

  11. Can you explain IFIFYM? I don’t see why that’s a noble indulgence.

    • Basically what Mr Snake said above.

      I’m not disputing that it could work for some people, but it’s still a noble indulgence.

    • I looked some stuff up on IFIFYM, and I tend to agree with Ludvig. It’s not dissimilar to what I do, but I’m not pretending that what I do is optimal or that I’m following any kind of system. I just don’t put much effort into fitness. It seems, especially based on certain promotions of it, that IFIFYM could easily degenerate into “do what you please” while still pretending to be on some kind of program.

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