Monday, October 13, 2014


You know how some people--and maybe you're one of them--can make a cup of coffee or a bag of M&Ms last for like hours? The cup just sits beside them on the desk as they attend to their work with focus and tranquility, largely oblivious to the delicacy at hand. Occasionally they'll take a sip. The steam starts to subside, but they don't seem to mind. They have mastered the arts of moderation and indifference.

I am profoundly jealous of this mastery.

I first noted this kind of detachment when I was eight years old. Matt, a first-grader, would come over to our house after school if his babysitter had some other commitment. Sometimes Mom would give us a snack--chocolate chips or something--to eat as we did our homework.

My chocolate chips were always gone within the first three or four minutes. They were delicious, and after a single chip, I became a temporary chocolate addict. I couldn't resist eating them one after another until they were gone, and my homework barely started.

Matt did his homework with the meandering, selective attention of a little boy who does not want to use a number line to practice subtraction. However, he ate his chocolate chips the same way. Every few minutes, he would blink at his snack as if he'd just remembered it, pick up a couple of chips, and then immediately forget his snack's existence again.

How could he care so little about chocolate chips? How was he not driven crazy by their tempting presence until it was fully relocated into his stomach?

As a third-grader, I chalked it up to the fact that Matt had funner food at his house (which was true). He was used to candy for snack; it wasn't a treat for him. It has lost its novelty. I wondered if the same phenomenon would be true for me if I ever became rich enough to have fun food on hand at all times.

To some extent, that philosophy proved true. My family now has orange juice on a regular basis, and I no longer feel compelled to drink it all the time just because it's there. The same is true of cookies, and Cheez-Its, and flavored yogurt. I have risen above the animalistic urge to consume these relatively mundane foods.


With "treat" foods and beverages, the art of pacing oneself is still lost on me. I buy a smoothie, and it's half gone before I'm even back in my dorm room. I open a 2-serving bag of M&Ms, and within ten minutes, it's empty. I grab an iced coffee on the way to work, and I'm sucking at the ice fifteen minutes later.

Meanwhile, I watch people around me exercise this intensely classy combination of absentminded appreciation and tranquil indifference to their "treats." Large iced coffees go minutes and minutes and MINUTES without even being touched, and people don't even seem to be struggling to resist.

Maybe they're just all rich and have treats all the time and the novelty has been lost, like Matt with his chocolate chips? Or am I totally and abnormally self-control-deficient when it comes to delicious things?

All I know is that I envy the air of maturity embodied by people who can resist their treats. It's a level of maturity to which I genuinely aspire.

And I will get there, even if it means drinking steamless coffee and drooling on my keyboard.



  1. HAHA i love this. mostly because i had the exact same thoughts as you. why in the world would these people resist their food/treat/drink and why did i find that so appealing? what is it about that indifference to down their beverage like there is no tomorrow that makes me want to drink that way?

    so i tried. i tried really hard to not down my coffee within the first two minutes of ordering it. i tried really hard to let my snack sit a while in between tastes. at first i sucked at it. i had the motivation to seem as if i was absentmindedly biting away at my snack bar for the first three bites and then it was all downhill from there.

    but, the more i attempted to do it, the...better? i got at it. so now i make my coffee last and my snacks sit on the table for more than five minutes before they're all gone.

    and i feel like a mother loving champ doing it.

    1. This makes me so happy XD 1) Because I'm not alone in feeling the way I do, and 2) Because it gives me hope!

      I will probably update on my progress at some point. Maybe I'll keep a small log of my conditioning journey. I've been known to do weirder things.