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Day 16: Be Surprised
Posted by Grady Miller on Dec 28, 2013 - 2:46:59 AM

UNITED STATES—A great way to maximize happiness and roll with the nutritional punches is to cultivate meeting unexpected treats with delight. The ancients had the carpe diem outlook; mine is ”˜be surprised.’ Through selective short-term deprivation and adherence to daily habits like morning stretches we can increase the chances that what the day may offer us will be better than anything we could have imagined, provided we are in a state of readiness.

To be surprised you must be ready


I will share with you a perfect example. Last week I went out early one morning to get the oil changed at my mechanic’s. There was a tug in me, before exiting my kitchen, to warm up yesterday’s coffee and take it with me in a paper cup and it was even the thrifty thing to do, but deep down I knew that it would kill one of the pleasures awaiting me later in the morning, assuming the sky didn’t fall: my morning coffee enjoyed in tranquility. This bit of delayed gratification, I wagered, would be worth the temporary sacrifice to better appreciate what surprises came my way, particularly in this festive season.


The most amazing thing happened. While I was waiting for my car, a lady came knocking and gesturing on the door to the mechanic’s shop. She had her arms around a milk crate filled with stuff, a jar of milk and a coffee pot stuck out. My first impression was that she was selling something, and I wasn’t sure if I should open the door to a potential nuisance. Turns out she was a regular customer of my mechanic who ritually brings coffee to the waiting area, she had napkins and milk—raw milk, mind you—and sugar and pots filled with coffee and aromatic tea which she made space for on the magazine table.


“I was thinking about bringing a cake,” she said. “But I keep hearing that cake makes you feel good for only a short while. I’m getting more concerned about how people feel and what makes them feel good.”


Clearly, I was dealing with a highly evolved person who properly detected that I like my coffee black and that I must be a writer or musician. If I had had that cup of warmed-up when I was at home, it would have robbed that moment in the mechanic’s waiting area of its special splendor. Its savor would have been diminished. The cup of coffee would have been redundant, and my delight would have been faked.


Braid into your days selective deprivation and the gratification that comes later is all the sweeter. This lady, the coffee fairy, will never know that she supplied the coffee and lively conversation and was so enlightened as to NOT bring cake—which actually preserved the “no wheat” precept of the 30 days plan. Furthermore, she burnished my image of black coffee drinker and enabled me to avoid sugar. It doesn’t get better than that.


You too can ready for the days surprise. Choose to abstain from gratifying certain desires instantly and you’ll embrace, rather than shun, those generous offerings of celebration and sharing that may come your way. Being able to welcome these surprises helps sprinkle the occasion with gratitude. Otherwise, if the belly is already full of previous indulgences, these gracious offerings become a cause for anxiety and indigestion.


At any rate, we still have choice in our arsenal and the two powerful words, “No thanks” to deflect the excruciatingly decadent offerings from the cult of decadent goodies that thrives even as the coffee lady’s words ring so true “cake makes you feel good only a short while.”


By sticking to periods of non-eating between meals or even judiciously skipping a meal before a celebration, we can preserve the sharpness of true hunger and avoid beating ourselves up over going off diet. Practice the art of staying hungry and you’ll be able to meet with gratitude all the amazing things the banquet of life offers.


Humorist Grady Miller is the author of “Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet,” available on Amazon Kindle.  He can be reached at


Cliffside Malibu




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