June 15

There’s No Single Recipe for Life

June 15, 2011

Personal Growth

When I was a kid, nobody talked much about cooking. You just boiled, baked, fried, or peeled it, and then you ate it. But then Julia Child and others made cooking look fun, and a profusion of books and articles followed, along with an occasional television show. Now the programs on cooking have proliferated beyond numbering, with entire channels devoted to the subject. Chefs have assumed a celebrity status once reserved for actors and politicians.

My son is a devotee of cooking shows, so I asked him if chefs used recipes. He said, "I've been watching for seven years, and in all that time I've never seen a recipe or even exact measurements. They just add whatever works to create the taste they want."

Similarly, in all the years I have worked with human beings, I have not discovered a single recipe that produces happiness for everyone. So we don't need to memorize a rigid set of steps. We learn by adding this or that, and then we test—or taste—the results, adjusting as we go. In our inexperience, it is unavoidable that we make mistakes, just as any chef does while learning to cook. We don't need to wallow in our errors, or feel guilty about them, just learn and apply our wisdom to the next step.

We also learn that some things never produce happiness. We learn that anger never, ever makes us feel more loved, loving, or peaceful, just as chefs know that gasoline never, ever makes a sauce more palatable. We learn that truth telling and loving always lead to more happiness, much as Julia Child used to say that butter and wine add to the gustatory delight of nearly every dish.

So relax. Constantly experiment with the blending of truth, understanding, acceptance, and compassion, and you'll learn what increases the savor of your life. You'll make mistakes. Not important. Just keep trying, recognize your mistakes, and rejoice in your successes. In the process you'll create an ongoing banquet of appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Bon Appetit.

Don't know where to start?

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