The 77% Weekly
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25/40
From the desk of Rabbi Brian

The Jam of Thinking about Why.

This week’s spiritual-religious advice: think less, be more.

 

Have
you ever thought life was overwhelmingly complicated? Has the nature of
existence puzzled or eluded you, while entangling you into a mass of
endless struggles? If so, you may wish to step back and remind yourself
how simple things really are.

 

Let’s
start with strawberry jam. Yes – that sweet, gooey, red stuff you
slather on toast. Or maybe you put it on a bagel…whatever you prefer,
that’s fine, because strawberry jam always serves a basic purpose. You
eat it, and it tastes good (at least for some people).

 

In the 1980s, “food technologists” at Consumer Reports conducted
an extensive taste test on 45 types of strawberry jam. They tried to
determine which varieties tasted best, and investigated whether or not
fancy, expensive jams were better than cheaper, generic brands. Using
an advanced scoring system, the experts gave each of the 45 jams an
official rating.

 

Recently,
Professor Timothy Wilson of the University of Virginia decided to
replicate that taste test. Wilson asked college students to rate five
of the 45 jams originally tested by experts at Consumer Reports.
Student consistently rated each jam almost identically to how the
experts rated them. But when Wilson asked other groups to rate the same
jams but this time to record why they preferred
certain jams to others, the students answers varied greatly from both
the other student’s answers and those of the experts.

 

They
strolled into murky areas of thought, using words like “spreadability”
and “texture.” In trying to concoct an academic explanation as to why
they liked one jam more than another, the students allowed fuzzy
concepts to cloud their minds. They weren’t talking about jam anymore –
they were talking about an intangible theory of jam, which is a far cry from “yummy.”

 

Why would these young adults do this? Because now they were thinking too much.

 

Think about it.

Either you like a jam, or you don’t.

It’s really that simple.

 

Wilson
performed similar experiments to see how people liked certain wall
posters. Once again, when he urged people to explain their preferences,
their answers, they contradicted themselves and belied their own
experiences over and over again.

 

We all do this. Sometimes we think our way into making things more confusing than they should be.

 

My
children don’t seem to have these problems. They simply state or
gesticulate their preferences without submitting to the burden of
having to explain them. Emmett doesn’t like something? “It’s yucky,” he
says. Annie simply turns her head away from the offending item. And
that’s that.

 

You know, on a gut level, when you like something.Trust yourself – not your thinking – more.

 

If
you find yourself in a “jam” – that is, if you’re stuck in the midst of
something that’s more perplexing than it ought to be – consider what
your reasons are for making things overly complex. Or better yet, try
giving up your reasons for awhile. Maybe something “is,” simply because
it is.

 

This week’s spiritual-religious advice: be like my three-year-old and 17-month-old – think less, be more.

With love,

Rabbi Brian

Rabbi Brian

The 77% Weekly

The 77% Weekly: The Religion-Outside-The-Box Newsletter
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