We all do things because we’ve always done them that way. Or maybe because that’s the way our parents did it when we were growing up. Seth Godin, on his blog, posted about some things we do today that are relics of some reason that’s now obsolete.
This reminds me of one of my favorite “make you think” stories:
A newly-wed couple was making their first dinner of roast beef together. The wife proceeded to take the roast and cut off one end before she put it into the oven. She wrapped the extra piece up and put it in the fridge. The husband asked why?
She said she didn’t know but that she’d always done it that way because her mother did it that way. The husband says, “that’s crazy, why would you cut off a perfectly good piece of meat and not cook it? Let’s call your mother and ask.”
So they call the wife’s mother. She says, “I don’t know why we cut the end of the roast off. I’ve always done it that way, because my mother always did it that way.”
So they call the wife’s grandmother. She says, “I don’t know why we cut the end of the roast off. I’ve always done it that way, because my mother always did it that way.”
Luckily, the wife’s great-grandmother is still alive. They call her in the nursing home and ask why, for generations, these families have cut the end of the roast beef off before cooking it. She says, “that’s simple. When I was cooking roasts, I didn’t have a big enough pan, so I cut off part of the roast so it would fit.”
One of the goals of mindfulness is to “look deeply” at everything. That includes looking at the reasons you do things. Next time you’re doing something (anything! everything!), look deeply at why you’re doing it, or why you are doing it in that way. You might just discover that you’re being controlled by people and justifications long gone. Make sure you have a reason for everything you do. Do you like those reasons?