I was making my breakfast this morning and feeling excited about it -- one piece of sourdough toast with avocado and cilantro, one piece with cashew butter, sea salt, cinnamon, blueberries and a fig.
We usually eat oatmeal in the morning but I'm reading It's Not About the Broccoli, a book about teaching kids to eat well, and the author emphasizes the importance of variety as one of the main components that influence eating behavior. She coaches us not to let kids eat the same things two days in a row. I've been thinking a lot about, and have written about, paying attention to my own eating habits so that I don't have to be a hypocrite when it comes to teaching my kids. I eat the same thing two days in a row all the time. Maybe twenty days in a row.
And I started to see myself in these kids that seem wildly picky, the ones that insist on eating only one brand of chicken nuggets. I don't eat chicken nuggets, but I do feel anxious when my favorite jar of peanut butter gets low. Except I don't even let myself get anxious because I make sure there is backup jar in the pantry.
But the thing is, the idea of variety every day gave me a little sparkle of excitement. Which made me think that there's something a bit constrained going on with my eating. I love peanut butter but I don't want to feel like I have to have it. Toast felt exciting today because it's not oatmeal and part of me doesn't feel free to choose something outside the usual.
I can get really attached to things that are working well enough, whether it's breakfast or a job or a relationship. Rocking the boat unsettles (erm, rocks) me.
I was listening to a podcast earlier in the week (I think it was this one) that mentioned the endowment effect, a term from economics that describes how we imbue the things we own with more value simply because they belong to us. I think the context on the podcast was that this is one of the reasons it can be hard to declutter and get rid of things. Even if you wouldn't buy the same thing again today, now it's yours and by virtue of that relationship, you've developed an attachment to it.
I had just been noticing a pattern like this in a particular area of my life. Let's call it a situation. There are things I really appreciate about this situation and that makes me scared to think about letting it go, even if a different situation might be better. Some part of me is too scared to let go of what's good enough about the current situation even though there are also things that I really DO NOT like about it.
This is about a much more fraught, wide-reaching, longer term decision than breakfast. (Although honestly at time even breakfast has felt fraught.) But noticing that it happens in both places made the bigger decision actually feel less fraught. Like maybe it isn't really dangerous to choose something new, something different. Maybe it's just a pattern of seeing things in my own particular idiosyncratic psyche that makes it seem dangerous.
This possibility breathed some fresh air into the whole thing. Maybe by playing with different options at breakfast, I can get a little bit more comfortable (excited even) with exploring possibilities in other areas.