The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 19, 2013

Satisfied with self

By Peggy Goodrich, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

— Are you satisfied with yourself? Think about it.

Now is a good time to see if there is some way we can improve our lives and make them more livable. Makeup and clothes can do wonders to hide imperfections and make us presentable for the public, but we have to look deeper within ourselves to see if we are not just covering over some flaws that we could and should improve.

My sister, Marjorie, and others have sent me this delightful story that truly has a point about the content of ourselves:

“A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. The conversation soon turned into complaints about stress at work and life.

“Offering his guests hot chocolate, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of hot chocolate and an assortment of cups ... porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain-looking and some exquisite, telling them to help themselves to the chocolate.

“After all the students had a cup of chocolate in hand, the professor said, ‘If you noticed, all the nice looking, expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is but normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.’

“Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the chocolate. In most cases, it’s just more expensive and in some cases hides what we drink What all of you really wanted was chocolate, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups ... and then began eying each other's cups.

“Now consider this: Life is the chocolate, and the jobs, houses, cars, things, money and position in society are the cups. They are just the tools to hold and contain life, and the type of cup we have does not define nor change the quality of life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the chocolate provided us. Just another way of saying, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’ It’s what’s inside that matters. Consider the substance inside.”

My mother summarized this idea in one little sentence: “Pretty is as pretty does.” No matter how pretty we are on the outside, with a new dress and hair fixed with a pretty bow in it and polished shoes, etc., we are not pretty unless we act nice. Our actions are remembered long after our presence is gone.

Any time is a good time to inventory and see if we need to change something about ourselves. Are we thoughtful of others? Are we polite to everyone we meet? Are we patient while waiting in line at the market or store? Do we interrupt when others are talking? Do we listen while others have the floor? Do we whisper in church, movies or concerts (or worse yet, talk out loud)? Do we acknowledge gifts with a call or note? Do we gladly share what we have? Do we keep our word? Do we have a good work ethic? Are we honest? Do we pay our debts on time? Do we give sincere compliments? Are we respectful of others? Are we thrifty? Do we smile enough?

Do we eat healthy? Do we drink enough water? Are we overweight? Do we exercise enough? Do we get adequate sleep? Do we have good posture? Are we meticulous about washing our hands? Do we cover our mouths with our arms (not our hands) when we sneeze or cough? Do we talk with our mouths full? Do we chew adequately? Are we clean? Do we have regular medical check-ups? Do we control our blood pressure and anger?

Somewhere in all these questions we can probably find some area that needs improvement. If we think we don’t need improvement, then maybe we should work on our self-pride and thinking we are perfect! None of us are so perfect that we can ignore the “chocolate” and just think of the “cup.” We all could stand a few changes, but don’t try to be what we can’t be.

One more quick story and this lecture is finished. I am reminded of the Aesop fable of the frog and the ox: A big frog once lived in a small pond. Because he was the biggest frog in the pond, he decided he must also be the biggest thing in the world. As he sunned himself on his lily pad, he puffed out his chest with pride. “No one anywhere is bigger than I am,” he thought. One day a huge ox came to drink at the pond. The frog was amazed, but he refused to be impressed. “I suppose you think you are big,” the frog called out to the ox. “But I want you to know that I can make myself just as big as you.”

The ox did not reply. He just kept on drinking. “If you don’t believe me,” shouted the frog, “just watch!” The frog took a deep breath and blew himself up to twice his usual size. Still, the ox paid no attention to him. “So, that’s not big enough for you?” croaked the frog. “Very well, I’ll make myself bigger still.” He blew himself up even larger. Again the ox said nothing. He simply turned away and headed for the other side of the pond. This made the frog furious. Taking an enormous breath, he blew and he blew and he blew ... himself up until he burst. And that was the end of the big frog in the small pond. The moral to this story is: Don’t try to be what you cannot be.

We just need to try to be the best we can without trying too hard to impress others. A fancy cup doesn’t help impress others. They will see the truth eventually. What better time than now to take stock of the things we need to improve and change. It is never too late to make a difference in ourselves.

For a complete change of pace from my homemade warm meringue banana pudding, I tried this and it was absolutely wonderful. I think you will like it too.

The Best Banana Pudding Ever

1 (6-ounce) package vanilla instant pudding

2 cups milk

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1⁄2 cup Amaretto or one tablespoon vanilla

16 ounce whipped topping

3 bananas, sliced

1 (8-ounce) package vanilla wafers

Mix instant pudding, milk, condensed milk, lemon juice and vanilla or Amaretto until smooth. Fold in thawed whipped topping. Layer in glass bowl with pudding, banana slices and vanilla wafers, ending with pudding and vanilla wafers (or bananas will turn dark).

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.