Do More Things You Don't Enjoy

Scott Leonardi

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When I make a pot of coffee, I never finish the whole thing.

Actually, I usually only make about a half-pot because I’m the only one that’s going to be drinking it and I don’t normally want more than a few cups. So, I make about three cups, drink two while I write, pour the third, but never take more than a sip. It ends up getting cold and sitting there while I finish up some work and go about my day. I never pour it out.

In fact, I set it next to the coffee maker in my room to save it for the next day. This has nothing to do with being frugal, but it’s a habit I’ve developed over the past few years. I’ll wake up, stretch and get myself situated at my desk while I yawn and rub my eyes, and I’ll sip on the old cold coffee while I make a new pot. Some people might find that gross, or that I’m being impatient, or that I have no standards, but I don’t see it that way at all. In my mind, it’s just cold water with coffee in it. I like the taste of coffee, and I like cold water. No, it’s not fresh and hot anymore, but even when it was, it’s not like it was mind-blowingly better. It was just fresh and hot. Now, it’s old and cold. It still has the caffeine and that’s all I really want anyway. Sure, it’s a little more bitter from sitting out all night, but even in its bitterness, I can still find something about it that I like and that, in all honesty, I tend to look forward to when I wake up. To be clear though, I don’t drink it if it’s more than a day old. After that first day, it really starts to taste like a caffeinated corpse, and if I ever wanted to make my coffee stiff, I’d add a little Irish charm instead of drinking liquified death.

The point of this little dive into the daily life of another keyboard dreamer is to illustrate an idea that pops up from time to time whenever I find myself voluntarily ingesting or experiencing something that I find undesirable.

It’s the idea that people seem to think that they not only need, but deserve to only experience the best versions of things. They won’t settle for anything less than what they desire, and it must be to their exact specifications. When they make coffee, it must taste fresh, hot, be sweetened perfectly, and have the exact type of milk they prefer. Only then will they allow themselves to enjoy their beverage. Any variation in recipe will completely throw them for a loop and the outrage inside them will swell and crash onto an unsuspecting barista or the resentment and disappointment will sit inside them and ferment until they explode on someone else completely unrelated to the situation.

I’m not saying that nice things aren’t nice. If there wasn’t a discernible difference in the quality of experience in everything we do, everything we do would be the same as anything else. Nothing would matter and progress of any kind would come to a screeching halt. I get it, good coffee is better than old bitter coffee…no duh. Not the point.

I’m trying to articulate the attitude towards an unpleasant experiences that most people share. They come upon an unpleasant experience, and the majority of people will avoid it.

Why though?

We’re not talking about sticking your hand in a blender here. This is about wasting energy by constantly trying to avoid things that are temporarily unpleasant because you’ve grown to see yourself as above these things and therefore feel as if you deserve better.

People have a hard time going back once they’ve become accustomed to a certain standard of living. They forget how much of a privilege it is to even live in a society where you can go out and have food made and brought to you perfectly cooked, or order amenities on your phone and see it at your door in less than a day, or can get in a car and drive wherever you please without having to wait on public transportation like so many other people.

Why do you deserve nice things? Why do you feel you need them?

Oh, you ordered a burger with no pickles and they put pickles on it? Do you really need to send it back so they can throw away perfectly good food just because you can’t pick them off yourself? What would happen if you just ate the thing? Can you imagine that? Eating something you don’t LOVE?? Eat the damn burger and be thankful for it. Unless you’re deathly allergic to something that you can’t even touch without a hospital visit, just eat it.

I guess I just don’t understand most people’s lack of acceptance for experiences they didn’t plan or don’t enjoy. I’ve literally been brought completely different food than what I ordered at a restaurant and guess what I did? Ate it anyway because I was starving. Guess what happened? It was FINE. I didn’t get what I wanted, I accepted it and moved on. I didn’t make a fuss, I didn’t blame the waitress or the cooks or anybody else. Mistakes happened, and then I was staring at something I didn’t want. I shrugged and thought, Well, alright then, and didn’t give it a second thought. When a friend asked, “Is that what you ordered?” and I said No, but continued to eat it anyway, they were just as astonished with my decision as I was with their inability to comprehend my lack of interest in blowing up something so petty. It’s still food, after all. I didn’t get what I wanted, but I really didn’t want to send it back and have to wait even longer to eat when I was hungry and the whole point of ordering food was to, ya know, eat. Should I throw a tantrum? Am I a child? Is everything in my world supposed to always align perfectly with what I desire? Or, would it be more beneficial to voluntarily experience things I don’t like so I can learn to grow beyond the learned habits of desire and expectation? I like the last one.

I guess I just wish people were more accepting of the good and the “bad.” Experiences are temporary, be fully aware of them while they’re happening instead of rejecting them and looking away. You don’t have to allow unpleasant things to dictate your actions just because they seem unavoidably oppressive in that moment.

I was at the beach recently. Walking around listening to an audiobook after a short jog. I had worked up a sweat while running, but now that I was cooling off next to the water and the breeze was picking up, I was starting to get pretty chilly. I was only wearing shorts and had taken off my shoes to feel the sand and water which was also icy as hell. As I walked farther and farther, I became noticeably cold, the water was frigid and the breeze was getting extra goosebumpy. My instinct was to turn back and find somewhere to warm up, but instead, I just allowed myself to just be cold. I didn’t fight against it by jumping up and down and rubbing my hands together, I just gave in to the feeling and pretended like it was a perfectly natural state to be in, that I was cold and always have been and always will be. Complete acceptance of the situation allowed me to forget about how I felt and continue enjoying myself like I was before the wind picked up. (A little trick I learned dealing with winters in Ohio. Warm? What even is that? Sounds made up.)

You should do more things you don’t enjoy.

Do them on purpose. Do them over and over until you see the positive in them, or at least aren’t affected by them anymore.

I don’t like green olives, yet, every single time I get a sandwich with one on a toothpick poking out of the bun, I eat that it. I wince every time. I needed to know what it was about them I didn’t like. So, when I saw a jar of them in my refrigerator that a roommate had bought, I eat one every now and then just to give me a little zap of blech. Honestly, after a while, I’ve gotten used to the flavor and may have even developed a bit of a taste for them. I refused to allow something so insignificant to give me such displeasure and was bent on defeating it. Now, I’ll gladly eat a few green olives when they’re around just because I actually enjoy how much I don’t like them. It’s like a game for me.

It can be fun to do things you don’t like. You don’t have to push that to it’s extreme and do something to the detriment of your health or well-being, but giving yourself a slap in the face with the reality outside of your cozy bubble of preferences gives you a chance to inflate that bubble and give you more space to fit more experience.

Stop thinking that you somehow only deserve the best and can’t be bothered with anything less than perfection at all times. It’s honestly a pretty unattractive quality in a person.

I’ve got to go, I have half a cup of cold crap to finish. It’s okay, though, I’ll find a way to enjoy it while a fresh pot is on its way.

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I write a lot about self-development and personal growth. I want to help people uncover their authentic selves through creative expression and in the process understand their place in the world a little better. I also enjoy writing screenplays, short stories, and poetry. All of which can be found at MossManSupreme.com

Imperial Beach, CA
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