A completely spartan lifestyle is unsustainable. It might be fun (for two days) to take six 20-minute naps in 24 hours, eat nothing but chicken and rice, and take freezing showers every morning. But living that way is no way to live.

And on the other extreme, a completely hedonistic lifestyle is unsustainable, too. Eventually, that wonderful wine will start to taste like water.

To the hedonist, the sensations of entertainment start to bore them like the coffee addict who needs six shots of espresso to feel the caffeine.

The same thing happens to the spartan. The point of overcoming a challenge is the self-respect that comes with doing so. But that’s impossible if immediately after doing 100 burpees, you take a freezing shower, then a 20-minute nap.

There’s nothing wrong with seeking out pleasure or challenge – even more than most people. But we need sequences and stopgaps to make sure that we’re doing it right.

We need sequences because it actually matters that reward comes after challenge.

And we need stopgaps because the spartan needs ample time to reflect on a job well done, and the hedonist needs ample time to appreciate the subtleties of that wonderful wine.

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