Newsletter 09: Decrease, not increase

I often meditate on teachings from Kaibara Ekiken, a 17th century samurai who was also a doctor, botanist and philosopher (yes, a true polymath):

“There is a secret key to nurturing your health. This key is an essential secret transmission that any person aiming to take good care of himself must understand and observe. The secret key is in the single word decrease.

Decrease means to reduce all of your ten thousand affairs and avoid increasing them. Be frugal in everything or, in other words, decrease your desires. Your desires are said to be the greed and fondnesses of the ear, eye, mouth, and body. They are variations of the fondness for wine, food, and sex. Generally speaking, accumulated desires damage the body and result in a loss of life. If you can decrease your desires, you will nourish your body and extend the years of your life.”

It’s not just about living longer. I have kept my weight around 63kg for over 10 years, thanks to his diet advice:

“Whether you eat one slice of meat or one mouthful of fruit, the taste is the same as if you had eaten ten slices of meat or one hundred mouthfuls of fruit. Rather than eat a lot and ruin your stomach, eat just a bit and appreciate the taste. It is much better not to cause damage to yourself.”

Kaibara-san’s teachings are part of my health principles which you can read in my free ebook “Anyone Can Lose Weight” (you can download it here). And the general concept of decrease is sorely needed in today’s society where we are drowning in excessive behavior at all levels – overeating, overworking, overconsumption, overstimulation, over-selfie-ing…

The only thing people do too little of is getting enough sleep.


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That’s all for this newsletter!

Originally published on 14 April 2024 on LinkedIn. Subscribe here.