Sharing moments Menopause Young adults Bye bye Hotel Mum How you feel at home Semester abroad Language course abroad or work as an au pair? Be prepared for military training Grassrooted Pack smarter, travel better Make an impression Contraception Vegan diet Bye bye Hotel Mum – hello shared flat Big trip, small budget Finanzielle Vorsorge Planning a family Tracking fertility The right time? How men can help Fertility and diet Medical check-up What you need to know about ovulation What to do if you don’t conceive straight away Three electronic fertility and cycle trackers in comparison Planning a family and partnership Pregnancy Examinations during pregnancy Diet and nutrition Is my pregnancy progressing normally? Tips for daily life Important points for travel and holidays Is my pregnancy progressing normally? What items do I need for my baby? Where and how do I want to give birth? What do I need to pack for the hospital? How should I prepare my home for my child? Is my pregnancy progressing normally? How can I best prepare for my baby? How can I best prepare for the birth? Nutrition Parent-child relationship Preparing for breastfeeding | Sanitas Magazine Insurance Stretch marks Sleep Rupture of membranes Baby blues High-risk pregnancy Braxton Hicks & false labour Formalitites Morning sickness Family rooms Signs of a premature birth Our baby Bathing baby – what you need to know How babies hear Infant first-aid kit Baby care Is my baby developing normally? Month-to-month overview of baby development Is my baby developing normally? Baby’s development: Months 3 and 4 Baby care Breastfeeding When does a baby start eating? Weight Baby growth spurts Toys Sun protection for baby skin Teething Milk teeth: what to do in case of accident Baby’s development: Months 5 and 6 Pelvic floor exercises after birth Babyschlaf Celebrating and enjoyment Christmas and New Year’s Eve with a twist A philosophical take on pleasure Pleasure can also be found in the soup kitchen in Zurich Tips for a peaceful and stress-free Christmas Living better with cardiac insufficiency Alejandro Iglesias Hana Disch Patrizio Orlando Vaccinations and travel first-aid kit Hay fever In pursuit of happiness Seven tips for a happier daily life Kids in lockdown Online addiction Women's hearts Decisions Decision-making tips Report from the hospital Donating a kidney Life decisions Emigrating to South America Geocaching Sexuality Erectile dysfunction Young people and sexuality Queer pastor Drag queen Paprika Sexually transmitted infections What does LGBTQIA+ stand for? Gender medicine HPV Families of transgender people Medically assisted suicide Types of dementia Family Blessing or curse? Knowing about hereditary diseases Families of dementia patients Be active Active during pregnancy Sport and exercise during pregnancy Antenatal exercise classes Standing properly Healthy eating Green smoothies Vitamin D Good eggs, bad eggs Diet plan Healthy fats Feed your muscles How much sugar should we eat a day? How much fat should we eat a day? Lactose intolerance Healthy diet, strong immune system Low Carb E-numbers and other additives in food Personalised diet Vegan meat substitutes Brain food: what should we eat? Healthy heart Interview with Christophe Wyss Heart-friendly sports How the mind affects the heart Taking blood pressure correctly High blood pressure: what you need to know Healthy teeth Home remedies: relief for sore gums A dentist explains Brushing up on brushing Changing habits Interview Stortpsychologie 10-step guide to changing habits Try, try, try again Fitnessmotivation Running coaching Running ABC Race in Sarnen Factors affecting condition Weekly planner Running shoes Strengthening exercises Running nutrition Complementary sport Warm-up Stretching Functional clothing Fitness tracker Shopping – sportswear Running tips for women Relaxation technique Recovery New lease of life thanks to Sanitas running coaching Sport after childbirth Postnatal exercise Taking the strain off your shoulders Kangatraining Workout while walking Expert tips Stress and relaxation Moving air Fight stress with yoga What is stress Learn how to relax Dealing with stress What is burnout? “The first step was to create boundaries” Juggling family and a career Reduce stress Stressor factors The most beautiful Swiss saunas Sweating in the sauna Breathing exercises for relaxation The right rest & recovery: debunking myths Mindfulness Sleep Constant availability: chronic stress Trend sports Fitness boxing Slackline Bouldering Fascia training Stand Up Paddling Keeping fit efficiently Swing with a smile! Vertical workout Hiking Altitude sickness Seven stroller-friendly hikes Needed: a hiking-friendly pushchair There goes the other sole! Tips on hiking with a baby Mountain lakes Winter walks Planning a family: Fertility and exercise Stair climbing Pumptrack Kids’ back Back exercises Sitting properly at work Forest fun Playing for life Promoting health and fitness Motivation Sledging Curling glossary What do you get if you cross a kite with snow? Snowshoeing Preventing falls Inline skating Swimming Swimming Wings for Life Stretching Bike tips Stretching exercises for cyclists koerper-und-kaelte Healthy teeth thanks to dental hygiene and preventive care Putting wishes into practice Tips for healthy teeth Hometraining Investigating teeth-related myths 10 tips to ease anxiety Hand care How our body regenerates The best abdominal exercises in five minutes Keeping fit on holiday Swim training aids Wie viel Sport ist gesund Gathering mushrooms – the right way | Sanitas Magazine Check-ups Five-minute stretching routine Gehirntraining Rückenschmerzen Licht Yogastile Ayurveda-Morgenroutine Tips for doing sport outside in winter Cross-country skiing for beginners Home remedies against dandruff Home remedies Home remedies for bladder infections Home remedies for a sore throat Home remedies for migraines Home remedies against excessive sweating Home remedies for a sun allergy Healthy feet, healthy back core exercises for mountain bikers Symptoms Check Sport after Corona HIIT: quick and efficient exercises Sore muscles: debunking myths Debunking swimming myths strength training for young people Exercise videos Whole-body workout Fascia training Lack of exercise Sun protection Strong mind How to be mentally strong Mental strength Psychosomatics Resilience Tips against feeling down Sleep hygiene and mental well-being Depression Panic attacks Prescription drug addiction ADHD: Symptoms in children and adults Mental illness: help for friends and family Living with autism Pressure to perform Alcoholism Mental health benefits of exercise Ways to brighten your mood Blood: myths and facts Hormones Complementary medicine: the most common treatments Complementary medicine Training in line with your menstrual cycle Living together today Digital life Online addiction Digital temptation Children and digital media Smartphone neck Digital responsibility and solidarity Our brains love habit Change my habits? You’re joking! Planning a family: Difficulties trying to have a baby Planning a family: Myth vs fact Solidarity study Newcomers Living together tomorrow Digital nomads Giesserei multi-generation house The blind film director Help instead of rent Working on the move Medical practices of the future Our skin – layer by layer Generational discussion: wishes for life Hausarzt und Corona Safe return to work Corona crisis: singing together Corona crisis: Working in intensive care Corona crisis: working in a nursing home Rest and recovery: learning from children Corona crisis: voluntary work for the needy Second opinion Relationships and children Three questions that keep us awake at night Outing The nature of lying Vorsorge Finding sound health-related information online Impfstoffe entwickeln Tipps für Jugendliche in der Corona-Krise Becoming parents Diagnose: Kind im Haus Long Covid Take it easy in your free time YouTuber Aditotoro on the coronavirus pandemic Minimalism for a happy life Thanks to corona: more time for family Back to life after a paragliding accident Decluttering: the answer to chaos Living and loving with autism Synaesthesia Talking to doctors Non-verbal communication Is there really a serial killer gene? Developments for the future App check Aqualert SRC blood donor Codecheck Forest Freedom Freeletics Three sleep apps reviewed PeakFinder Findery Six fitness apps reviewed Internet use High-tech trousers Prostheses Hospital of the future New skin for burns victims Online-Therapien How drugs are developed Generics A vision of the future: How we will live in 30 years Onward Overcoming erectile dysfunction Family medicine practices of the future Personalised medicine A voice for Clara Outpatient procedures
Dossier: Celebrating and enjoyment

“You can’t enjoy a lettuce leaf by itself!”

Philosopher Markus Huppenbauer believes it’s important to enjoy what you eat! But that’s not really possible if you’re tirelessly counting calories.

Text: Ruth Jahn; photo: Filipa Peixeiro

Mr Huppenbauer, is pleasure an important part of life?

It’s tremendously important! Those who enjoy life are generally happier. Pleasure involves being present in the moment, being at one with life, even if there is a lot of misery and gloom around us.

Are we enjoying life more today than in the past?

I’m hesitant to say yes to this question. Today, we have the opportunity to live our lives to the full. Pleasure is more openly available now, whereas in the past it tended to be restricted to the rich. But today we are subject to the restrictions of time. Even in kindergarten we are pushed to our limits, we eat quickly, we’re driven by consumerism. Does that sound like pleasure to you?

Do we have to relearn how to enjoy ourselves – when eating, for example?

Definitely. We don’t come into the world as gourmets. Biologically speaking, we’re simple creatures: If there’s sugar, fat or protein in front of you – eat it! But that’s not pleasure. Pleasure is associated with refinement. I’m not talking about a table setting with five different types of cutlery and three glasses. We have to think about what we’re eating, be aware of food culture and cultural traditions, dine with leisure and together with other people. This takes a certain amount of dedication. We have to ignore the hustle and bustle around us. If you come to the table with worries, you won’t be able to enjoy yourself.

We don’t just eat what we enjoy, but we think constantly about our health, the environment, animal welfare, and so on. Does that get in the way of real pleasure?

Enjoyment and morality are both part of life. We want to enjoy ourselves but also want to act responsibly. This can be contradictory: I enjoy eating steak, but I know that animal husbandry contributes to global warming. I enjoy drinking wine, but I know that it can damage my liver. In this case you’ve got to weigh up the pros and cons for yourself.

Doctors also say that it’s important to enjoy food and eat with other people, partly because we tend to eat less this way.

Enjoy your food, then you’ll eat less and eat healthily – that’s OK. But pleasure itself also plays a role! And doctors sometimes forget that. Wine and steak can have negative consequences. If I drink too much alcohol, eat unhealthily and get too little exercise then I put myself at risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. But pleasure can also have a positive impact on our quality of life. So, I’m in favour of pleasure in moderation.

Healthy eating is in vogue today. We count calories, make sure we get the right vitamins, don’t eat certain foods.

Many people are fixated on eating the supposedly correct diet. There are two reasons for this: Firstly, we think less about life after death today and are living for the here and now. And so we focus on what we have: our bodies. Secondly, I can make a difference with a diet while perhaps feeling powerless about other problems. I can lose weight, improve my blood values, reduce the fat in my body. If you’re thin, you’re showing that you are in control. Meanwhile, some influencers give the impression that if you simply want something hard enough, you’ll get it! But that’s an illusion. You can’t turn a bulldog into a whippet.

What happens if we always look at our meals so critically?

Some people get carried away and take things too far. So, you have to ask yourself: am I tormenting myself unnecessarily or is it really beneficial to my health? Relax! You need to relax to be able to enjoy yourself. You can’t enjoy a lettuce leaf by itself! It takes a little salt, pepper, lemon juice and a good olive oil.

Relax! You need to relax to be able to enjoy yourself.

Mr Huppenbauer, are you a man of pleasure?

Only partly. My life is too much influenced and disciplined by my work. I watch my weight. But pleasure plays a very important role in my life. I like to cook and eat. And I also love ballroom dancing.

What is our biggest misconception when it comes to pleasure?

The biggest mistake we make is equating pleasure with expensive luxuries. For me, for example, my greatest– and simplest – pleasure is eating a plate of spaghetti with a delicious home-made tomato sauce washed down by a glass of good wine. Anyone who only wants to eat expensive food is often more concerned with their status than with the food itself. The second mistake is hectic and greed. And this category includes your mobile phone.

What do you mean by that?

Mobile phones don’t belong on a table where people are eating! The mobile phone is a pleasure killer. Just by lying on the table, the phone distracts us from enjoyment and our sense of community. We’re not fully in the moment. I also don’t think much about the trend of continually taking photos of what you eat and posting them online. This robs us of pleasurable moments! When I take a photo of my plate, I look with my eyes through the screen of the mobile phone, automatically distancing myself from the pleasurable smells and tastes. In my thoughts, I’m with those we aren’t actually present who I want to show that I’m enjoying myself. At this moment, however, the opposite is actually happening: I take myself away from the pleasure.

Mr Huppenbauer, you are a philosopher by trade. What’s the general philosophical take on pleasure?

Very few philosophers have focused on pleasure. And if they have, then like Plato, they have advised us to indulge in enjoyment only in a very disciplined manner. Christian tradition, too, is largely characterised by asceticism. An ascetic lives and trains for an overriding goal, be it eternal life, running a marathon or trimming down from 100 kg to 80 kg with a diet. An ascetic cannot experience enjoyment, because he isn’t interested in the moment, but in his goal. One exception amongst the ancient thinkers was Epicurus, who developed a philosophy of sensual pleasure around 300 years before Christ. But for him, too, it was a question of moderation, along the lines of: real pleasures are those that you don’t regret.  

An ascetic cannot experience enjoyment, because he isn’t interested in the moment, but in his goal.

Aren’t intoxication and ecstasy related to pleasure?

Pleasure involves a certain amount of self-control and discipline. You let yourself go, but you don’t give up on yourself. Quite apart from that, going too far doesn’t go down well in Switzerland. And the government is keen to contain the negative consequences of intoxication and ecstasy, excess and craziness. Of course, there are exceptions, such as the Fasnacht carnival. But otherwise we don’t look kindly on intoxication and ecstasy, because they disturb our otherwise effective and efficient coexistence. Other cultures have a different take on this.

Some people only enjoy pleasure when it’s forbidden.

This may be true of young people at a certain stage of their life. But if we cross certain boundaries and endanger ourselves, for example by taking drugs, it’s not just exciting and adventurous, it also involves a certain amount of fear. And that’s not pleasure.

A final question: If enjoyment is only one part of having a good life, what else do we need?

Three things: first, we need social relationships, being together with friends and doing things with our partner, children, grandchildren, work colleagues, and so on. Second, a good life involves activities that you enjoy doing, such as dancing, cooking, eating, talking, gardening, making music, doing meaningful work. Many people feel a sense of well-being when they do something with their hands. Third, we need the opportunity to control our own lives. A good life is one that we lead according to our own ideas, in a community in which we can play at least a part – also politically – in shaping.

Markus Huppenbauer (61) is a philosopher and ethicist. He heads up the Center for Religion, Economy and Politics at the University of Zurich. His work focuses on, among other things, how we make decisions and what ethical living means. He lives with his wife in Baden.