Following is the perspective of an average citizen responding to and seeking to improve upon Dr. Cooper's 12 steps.
1. Stop using tobacco and drugs? Are you kidding? That's impossible--I don't smoke or use drugs now. A substitute step for those not practicing self-destruction: Commit to do what it takes to experience at least 23 good laughs each day, more if possible.
2. Ten alcoholic drinks a week are way too much! I rarely drink alcohol. It's fattening, expensive and makes you stupid. A substitute step: Drink at least eight 10-ounce glasses of water a day.
3. Start exercising? Where do you think I've been? On the moon? As an adult contemplating the rigors of middle age, I'd have to be a mental case not to be exercising already. I'll just keep working out. A substitute step: Increase regular exercise to go beyond the minimums for disease avoidance.
4. Depends on how much salt and fat I use now. If I thought I might be using too much, I'd arrange for a dietary analysis and find out. A substitute step: Don't worry about salt, saturated fat, sugar and the rest. Focus instead on foods consistent with guidelines set out by varied government and private groups (i.e., Center for Science in the Public Interest).
5. Depends on how much I'm eating now. A substitute step: Put less energy into food and more on adding meaning and excitement to life. Nurture your passions. If you died tomorrow, would you regret not eating more carrots?
6. Yes. I'll also avoid exposure to radiation, hungry reptiles and bubonic plague. A substitute step: Commit to achieving and maintaining a fit body through lifelong exercise and sound eating habits.
7. Good idea. All the evidence seems to support the need for this modest degree of dietary insurance, particularly against cancer risks. A substitute step? Nah.
8. If you think I need to be told to fasten my seat belt, you must think I'm hopeless. A substitute step: Besides fastening the seat belt, buy a car equipped with an air bag, arrange to do less motoring and when driving, do so defensively, with great care.
9. I think I'll just minimize sun exposure at midday. For me, being outdoors is such a crucial part of being really alive. A substitute step: Use powerful sunscreens, never sunbathe or use those ridiculous tanning booths, avoid peak exposure periods and cover up as much as practical.
10. I'm cautious about immunizations. A substitute step: Get immunized against varied cultures of worseness. That is, don't associate with negative people, arrange an environment to support growth and development and do things with those who just naturally help you feel positive and cheerful.
11. This applies only to half the population (females, and only when they are pregnant). A grand idea but limited, so a substitute step may be in order such as: Find work that is challenging and meaningful, even if you can't get paid to do it at first. Try to become so good at what you love that eventually someone will want to compensate you for doing what you intend to do for nothing, if necessary.
12. There is far too much medical testing in America. A substitute step: Become more self-reliant through mastery of selfcare books and other instruction in being your own doctor--most of the time. Learn to recognize when you really need to see a medical professional. When having a test, diagnosis or treatment, communicate relevant medical history and expectations for the visit.