Continuing along on my quest to transform myself into fully functioning adult, I’ve dedicated the last month or so to reading Gretchin Rubin’s “The Happiness Project”. For those of you who haven’t read it, Rubin’s philosophy to finding true happiness is loosely based on The Wizard of Oz theory, or the idea that everything you’re looking for is right in your own backyard.
It’s pretty much everything “Eat, Pray, Love” isn’t. There are no trips abroad to gorge yourself on gnocchi, no carefree flings with men boasting thick accents, no deep sea diving with mermaids and neon tetras… okay, so maybe I didn’t actually read Eat, Pray, Love, but I did half-heartedly watch the movie one time and the only feeling it elicited from me was the one you get when you stick your finger down your throat and roll your eyes at the same time. They should make an emoji for that…
So, I’ve been reading this book and just today came across a concept that pretty much sums up my biggest emotional and social roadblocks in life. Not bad for some light reading in the midwife’s waiting room, right? Anyway, in her chapter on Mindfulness, Rubin discusses “recognition heuristic”, or the idea that if presented with two objects, one familiar, one unfamiliar, people will assign higher value to the object with which they are familiar. I recognize Starbucks; I don’t recognize Caribou Coffee – and because I clearly know about everything that’s worth knowing about, Caribou Coffee must taste like gravel.
Makes sense, but how often do we cheat ourselves out of experiences simply by choosing the “familiar” brand?
When I’m presented with something unknown, like meeting a new friend for a one-on-one coffee date, the most natural thing in the world for me is to pull a, “Oh yeah, that sounds great, but…” or some variation on that theme. Because without sticking to my comfortable choices, I’m sure to be left floundering in a sea of potentially uncomfortable conversations, awkward pauses and regrettable menu choices! But is that really so awful? So what if I have to push myself out of my comfort zone or choke down a gross appetizer (because it’s not like I’m going to just leave it there!) – is that such a terrible thing?
It certainly shouldn’t be. I should welcome these opportunities for growth and allow myself the freedom to just woman up and TRY stuff!
All I know is this, as long as I let the unknown stay unknown, it will continue to have power over me – but what if I actually try and venture there, occasionally, and order a Caribou Coffee.
It might be disgusting, but at least it wouldn’t scare me anymore.
“Pleasure is very seldom found where it is sought. Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks. The flowers which scatter their odours from time to time in the paths of life, grow up without culture from seeds scattered by chance.” – Samuel Johnson, The Idler (No. 58)
What will you try in your own personal Happiness Project?