If you have no idea what is going on, I recommend that you read this post first.
Over the weekend, I visited a local bakery to indulge a sweet tooth solely responsible for my dentist’s annual trips to Guatemala. Named the Eiffel Tower, the bakery lives up to its name with old-world practices of butter-based baking, a refusal to compromise on ingredients, and jolly counter service.
Well, it’s typically jolly, as despite enduring a variety of hardships, the elderly baker behind the counter is a woman of tremendous perseverance and inner-strength. Today however, she was distraught and being who I am, I had to enquire.
“It’s the people, they have forgotten how to taste” the baker moaned. I replied that I knew quite a few picky eaters out there that shrink away at half the menu at a burger joint, to say nothing of legitimately exotic cuisine. “It’s not that they can’t taste, they just choose not to” replied the baker. “In Europe, we savour our food and explore each taste fully; we experience the dessert”, a small twinkle forming in the baker’s eye as fond memories flooded back.
“Here though, people just gobble up their food and move on with their day” the baker continued, the twinkle disappearing. “Some grocery store bakeries cut their food with chalk and people don’t even notice; how can I compete with chalk!” proclaimed the baker before going silent.
“What do you propose people should do”, I asked?
“Enjoy the moment” came the reply. “Other cultures appreciate the quality of a well-made dessert; they pay more for it and enjoy every moment of it. They take time to enjoy the moment and because of it, are much more sensitive to enjoyable tastes. Here though, most people just hurry through their eating and end up having the barest of taste buds”. The baker left me with an ominous question to ponder: How many stores and restaurants can you think of that only appeal to the sweet and salty aspects of our palette? I saw her point when I began to lose count naming them.
Our conversation gave me a lot to think about beyond the realm of sweet indulgences. We spend a lot of our day at a break-neck pace as we weave through the work day and extracurricular events that follow the work day. Being busy is not an issue in and of itself, but problems arise when we fail to slowdown during the time we have set aside for enjoyment and recreation. When we are around the table consuming a well-prepared meal, we should not hurry to get through the meal simply to watch television. Nor should we multi-task work in during this period if we can avoid it. Simply enjoy the moment and focus completely on the tastes, texture and if you are with others, conversations that are presented.
Applying the concept:
Set aside time for something you enjoy and when the time comes, focus exclusively on that task. Ignore outside distractions and simply focus on what you are doing. Set aside enough time so that you are not rushed and become fully engaged with the task.
When I am writing for example, I disconnect my internet. I write the words across the page and murmur each word, listening to the sound of the word as it laid on the page. My mind is in the writing and nothing else. Similarly, when I drink coffee, I dedicate ten minutes to heating the water, weighing and grinding the coffee, and carefully pouring the drink (I really enjoy my coffee). When I drink it, I close my eyes and focus on the way it makes me feel, the viscosity, flavours and overall feel of the hot drink.
Try it out and see if it makes a difference. Start with something easy like food or drink. Get a meal that you truly enjoy and try spending a full thirty minutes slowly consuming it. Spend time analyzing the feelings the food creates and savour the moment. The goal here is to amplify the positive emotions gained from the act.