The preparation and enjoyment of food has long been one of the centerpieces of the family time that my family and I enjoy together.
Over the years, we have created our own recipes and discovered new favorites along the way. We have tried different foods and combinations that required small leaps of faith and have generally been rewarded for our adventurous spirit.
We have enjoyed a variety of restaurants and we have maintained our family dinner as an essential part of the day despite the many growing demands on our collective time and energy.
We have also travelled together and often built at least part of a trip around the culinary attraction of that area. So, on a recent trip, when I was asked the following question, I made sure to give my answer some considerable thought.
“Dad, why I am the only one of my friends who likes bleu cheese?”
My short answer was that you tried it without being told that you wouldn’t like it. You tasted it before you had developed a pre-conceived notion of what it might be like and, therefore, were open-minded when you took your first bite.
The longer answer is that we all grow as human beings if we create our own experiences without bias, especially if the tendency toward a bias is present in the color of something or the smell of something or just the unfamiliar nature of something.
Sticking with the food example, my wife and I have always enjoyed split pea soup, especially on a cold night. If you know anything about split pea soup, the color isn’t particularly appealing, and the mention of peas doesn’t necessarily whet your taste buds. There is something about the combination, however, of split peas, ham, and either potatoes or dumplings that really works.
You can imagine that the presentation of split pea soup to a kid, particularly a little kid, would be a hard sell. Being prepared for this, my wife came up with the brilliant idea of renaming it Halloween Soup. What kid doesn’t like Halloween? All of a sudden, the color was a little more appealing and the idea of tasting it was sounding pretty good!
That ended up being the first step, of what was to be many more, toward a now lifelong pursuit of trying new foods and the willingness to enjoy new experiences.
I certainly understand that food adventures aren’t for everyone, but I believe that when you are open to trying new things and creating new memories, you’re probably on track to maximize your overall enjoyment of life. Perhaps more importantly, you are on track to maximize that enjoyment without unnecessary bias or potential regret.
Generally speaking, I think that you only regret what you don’t try. You may try your hand at a sport or a career and determine that it is not for you, but at least you will know that is the case and not be left to wonder what would have happened if you just would have given that sport or career a try.
I am also certain that if you are open to try new things, food or otherwise, that open mindedness will lead you to experiences that you would not otherwise have had, and you will be richer for it.
Of course, there are some limits to this train of thought. I know, without having to ever try it, that I am not going to enjoy combing my hair with an ice pick or sleeping on a bed of nails. Short of the obvious, however, what things have you not tried? What conclusions have you jumped to in the past without having sufficient information on the topic? If you have not actually experienced something before determining that you wouldn’t like it, on what basis are you making that decision?
Either way, once you decide to go “beyond bleu cheese,” you win. You will either try something that doesn’t work for you or you will open a new door that otherwise would’ve remained closed to you. If it is not for you, cross it off your list and move on with the knowledge that at least you know for certain because it was your experience using your senses and processing it with your mind.
If you are fortunate enough to open a new door, what’s next? A new friend or a new career opportunity? A surprise or a different and enlightening perspective on a previously settled topic?
You won’t know unless you decide to go “beyond bleu cheese” and try something new.
This article is part of Scott Arney's educational series, entitled The Serial Decision Maker.