Just another meal…
Just another client call…
What are your “just another's” recently?
It’s what I’m thinking about as I move through my day today.
It started this morning when I took a delicious sip of my coffee.
Mmmmmm…. The texture, the smell, the everything, just mmmmmm, soooo good.
When I looked up and over, I saw my daughter copying my every move and giggling (except her hot mug of joe was completely imaginary – a fist for her mug).
I smiled. “It looks like you’re enjoying that beverage of yours.”
“I certainly am,” she said. “It’s a real treat.” Saying something I guess I would say.
“Is coffee a treat?” she asked.
“Oh, yes it is,” I responded, pulling my mug in close to give it a hug.
“But you have it every day! It’s not really a treat if you have it every day. It’s just another coffee mom.”
The words just another sat in the air for a moment as we both contemplated it.
“I do have coffee every day at the moment, so I guess it’s not something out of the ordinary like a treat normally would be… but I cherish it so much! Each and every sip!”
My daughter stuck out her lips and took a sip of her imaginary cup of joe.
“Mmmmm.” We giggled as we did a cheers. Her fist with my mug.
From there we moved on and continued with the day’s activities. But I’ve continued to think about this “just another” thing.
Specifically, what “the just another” things or activities that show up throughout the day?
And why does this morning coffee not fall into that category, even when I do it every day?
Because it’s normal to derive less joy from things and activities that seemed to bring happiness at first. Hedonic adaptation describes this phenomenon of how even as people accumulate more of what they want, permanent gains in happiness are not attained. It’s also known as the hedonic treadmill because it can feel like you need more of something to feel good over time.
Researchers have found that people’s happiness set-point tends to stay pretty stable despite the ups and downs of life. And more research suggests that up to 60% of this happiness set-point is set by factors out of our control, like genetics and our upbringing.
A ride on your peloton now feels like ‘just another’ ride – or worse, a chore that you do out of guilt after seeing your bike with a layer of dust.
The sourdough loaf you made feels like ‘just another’ loaf when you serve it at the dinner table. No one comments on the smell, the taste, the time or effort it took to get it just right.
So I’m wondering why I’m so happy with this daily coffee?!
I remember about 10 years ago when I did one of my first life crafting visualization meditations – where you walk through a day in your life 25 years into the future in immense detail from the time you awake until the time you rest. It’s a powerful exercise that can help distil what’s important in the life you want to create for yourself and to get clarity on how to step into it with intention.
One of the things I envisioned was thoroughly enjoying a cup of coffee in a stunning natural environment. It was in the morning when I woke up – I wasn’t rushing off somewhere, my mind wasn’t racing around – I was sitting still and in love with the cup of coffee – totally present to all my senses. Of course, there was much more that took place in this meditation - but one insight I had afterwards was why not integrate what I could into my life right away? And enjoying coffee was one of those things.
So I got more curious about different kinds of coffee and started visiting special cafes as an activity in and of itself. I’d sit and enjoy the coffee. Fully. Unapologetically. I’d bask in it in the way I observed my future self doing it. I’d give myself permission to be over the top with it – to let my senses fully activate and to be fully in the moment – and fully in love with the coffee and the whole experience.
It’s like I trained myself very specifically around coffee to be an anchor – an anchor for presence. For love. To be unapologetic about something “so small” that brings so much joy.
Seeing my daughter mirroring me this morning reminded me of all that; the meditation and intention I put in back then, and to notice the habit it’s become. The mindful habit.
So, let's think about the things that bring us consistent joy and look at opportunities to lean into those and use them as anchors. What are yours?
But what about these "just another's"?
Let’s unpack them and consider:
What’s the story behind this thing/activity that you take for granted?
What’s the journey you went on to get to this point?
Why did you set out on that journey in the first place?
What function does this thing/activity serve?
What value does it have?
What does it contribute towards?
With this renewed clarity, connect to gratitude – for the thing/activity – and to the act of doing it.
If you find it difficult to answer these questions or they are without depth – it’s time to consider letting it go.
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