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Is It Really Good or Are You Settling?

One of my favorite recent shows is The Good Place, and it’s gotten me thinking about frozen yogurt and the difference between things that are truly good vs. things we settle for.

For those not familiar with the show, it starts off with a woman named Eleanor who died and ended up in the Good Place – but it’s a mistake. She knows she’s really supposed to be in the Bad Place, but she needs to make sure no one else learns the truth so she doesn’t get kicked out.

But the Good Place isn’t what you might typically think of. It doesn’t have any harps or angels, but what it does have is a lot of frozen yogurt places. The idea came up when the character Michael, the architect of the Good Place, was looking for “a food that people think they enjoy but that's also kind of a bummer.”

The answer was frozen yogurt because, as he said, “I've come to really like frozen yogurt. There's something so human about taking something great and ruining it a little so you can have more of it.”

That last part got me thinking about mindful eating, and how I sometimes suggest that people could go for a lighter version of something that they’re craving, as long as it will satisfy that craving. For example, frozen yogurt instead of ice cream. And of course, this can also apply to other areas of your life.

But the frozen yogurt discussion on The Good Place got me wondering how often those other options are truly satisfying vs. how often we’re settling when we don’t need to.

Good vs. Perfect

You might have heard the phrase, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” I don’t know who said it first, but there’s a lot of wisdom in that.

Along those lines, it’s important to remember that nothing is perfect (although sometimes ice cream comes close).

And when it comes to food, how good something is doesn’t depend only on objective taste. It also depends on your mood, how hungry you are, who you’re with (if anyone), and other aspects of the setting. Meals that might be objectively mediocre can taste wonderful if you’re truly hungry and with close friends, while meals prepared by great chefs might not be very appetizing if you’re already stuffed, you’re really sad, or you’re with people you don’t like.

Given that, it’s useful to remember that good things are enjoyable, and it’s important not to discount that even if you know it could be even better under slightly different circumstances.

Or Are You Settling?

On the other hand, sometimes you can convince yourself that something is good when it’s actually not, but you feel like you’re supposed to like it, so you settle for it.

For example, if you were in the perfect afterlife, would you really think frozen yogurt is better than ice cream? Or is it something you settle for because you feel like you can have more of it?

Or if you go out to eat, do you find that you order a salad, or grilled vegetables, or things without sauce, because you should, or because you actually like them?

If you’re not sure whether you’re settling or truly enjoying the food, here are some things to consider.

Does it feel like a sacrifice? If eating a certain food makes you feel like you’re giving up something you wanted, then you’re probably settling. But if not, if it doesn’t feel like a hardship, it’s a good choice.

Are you overlooking too many imperfections? While it’s true that nothing is perfect, certain things have more imperfections than others. If you find that you’re trying to convince yourself that you can overlook all these things you’re not excited about with your meal, you’re settling. On the other hand, if you accept your meal for what it is, and you’re not arguing with yourself about it, it’s a good meal.

Are you ignoring your instincts? It’s very easy to decide what to eat with your head, but food is more than that. It has an emotional component to it, so if you’re ignoring what your body is telling you and don’t get what you really want, you’re settling.

Finding the Balance

I realize you may not always be able to get what you truly want, and sometimes we all have to settle, depending on the circumstances.

But try not to make this an automatic habit. Really think about the decision and what sounds good to you. It may be that you want to go for the full fat, all-extras-added ice cream, and that’s fine. If you do, be mindful while eating it and see how much you need.

You may find that if you let yourself have what tastes good to you, you won’t want as much of it. And on the flip side, if you have something that’s not as exciting, you might end up eating more of it than you need because you’re still trying to satisfy that craving.

What are your thoughts about settling or having the food that tastes good to you? I’d love to hear about it!

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