Likes and dislikes

How to go beyond this?

Guavas are like coffee: They fill the air with their heavenly smell and announce their presence. Their overwhelming aroma draws the ardent connoisseur from all directions and makes him crazy with their addictive taste.  Come August, I don’t miss eating the delicious green guavas that are available in abundance in the market.  And every time the sweet-sour taste dissolves in my palate, I remember an incident which happened years back during a guava season.

We were just married then and my father-in-law came to stay with us for a while.  Eager to impress my father-in-law as a coy new bride of the family, I would attempt to cook a variety of food and also fill our fruit bowl with various seasonal fruits since I was given to understand that he loves fruits.  He can enjoy the fruits after every meal and forget my miserable cooking, I thought!  It was guava season and obviously guava found its place in the fruit bowl every day on the dining table.

Within a few minutes of keeping the washed guavas on the dining table, drawn by the strong aroma of guava, my father-in-love (law) would quickly come towards the table.  He would cut the fruit into pieces and share it with everybody around and also consume the last few pieces of it until it is all over and polished.  The unsuspecting me felt that he loves guava the best, among all fruits; so I never failed to buy loads and loads of it, whenever I go to the market until that specific day of ‘understanding’ came by.

“Usha, can you stop buying guavas?” he asked me one evening, when I came back from the market with guavas as usual.  “But you love it so much Appa…” I said meekly.  His face blanched and he said, “I hate the smell of it so much that I want to get done with it, the moment I see it.  Haven’t you seen me cutting it and quickly distributing it to all and sundry, so that we no longer have to suffer the strong smell in the house?”

My son has genetically inherited this behaviour pattern or so it appears!  While eating a sumptuous south Indian meal, he would finish all that he dislikes first from his plate and reserve the ones that he likes most for the last bite, so that he can savour the taste of it for a long time!  How people respond to their ‘likes and dislikes’ varies considerably, isn’t?  To a great extent one’s likes and dislikes influences, and determines one’s personality.  So to strengthen one’s personality should the starting point be from the ‘likes and dislikes’ domain?

While most women crave for spicy food during pregnancy, a friend of mine shunned away from salt and spice during her pregnancy.  The reason is not because she didn’t like it; she strictly refrained from eating spicy food since she had high blood pressure during pregnancy and her doctor had indicated that this might affect the growth rate of the child.  The day she heard this she kept away from pickles, something she would live out of prior to pregnancy and refused salt even in salads.  She was able to rewire her likes and dislikes for the good health of her unborn child.  Mom’s love won over the gratification of the tongue.

A few are able to override their likes and dislikes to achieve a goal or higher purpose.  An athlete will practice for 4 to 6 hours per day even when exhausted; he will dredge up the final reserves and push himself but will never stop before the allotted time.  When his heart is in winning the championship the cries of the body will not be heard by him.  In other words the need to achieve and become ‘numero uno’ is greater than the need to rest.

The tool that these winners use is called ‘Willpower’ and inevitably those who have strong willpower become leaders.  On the other hand those who do not have willpower, suffer a civil war between their ‘likes and dislikes’ versus ‘what should be done rightfully’.  Those who exercise their willpower have the ability to prevail over temporary discomforts for permanent gains.

Like how we develop our physical strength by exercising daily, we can develop our mental strength by exercising willpower daily or at least periodically.  We can begin playfully, by embracing something that we dislike or dropping something that we crazily like – just for a day.  The trick lies in turning it into an interesting game and when it becomes a game, it is always interesting.  The beauty of this game lies in the fact that there is no opponent since you play this willpower game with yourself!  Here, it does not matter how impressive it is; but how effective it is makes all the difference and how effective it is depends on how honest we are with ourselves.

For today my willpower game goes like this: I plan to stay away from social media which I am crazy about and call on a friend and surprise her.   What is your willpower game for the day?

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