The Postscript: As fun as eating broccoli

Published 1:00 am Wednesday, January 19, 2022

“I bought more broccoli because I knew you were coming,” my mother informed me.

You can never get enough broccoli, that is my belief.

I am lucky in that I never had to acquire a taste for vegetables out of some sort of concern for my health. I have always loved vegetables. My mother has a picture of me at three years old, sound asleep with a serving spoon in my hand. I had apparently offered to finish up the remaining peas. I did, then fell fast asleep at the table. I think I could still do that today.

My sister also loves broccoli, so I am inclined to think it was our upbringing that instilled our love of vegetables. She remembers the time when she had dinner at a friend’s house as a child and realized the modest-sized bowl of broccoli was intended to feed the entire table—a bowl she could easily have eaten on her own. My broccoli-eating capacity exceeds my sister’s, and this is why my mother (who prefers to buy things in small quantities) bought twice the normal amount of broccoli before my visit. We cooked it all. It was all eaten.

Eating vegetables is not something I have to worry about doing. I saw an advertisement for “vegetables in a pill” and was appalled. I have a hard time believing there is anything in those pills approximating a vegetable but, even if there were, why would anyone want it? Eating vegetables is one of my favorite things in life.

I’m reading a book about habits right now. I hesitated to buy the book because I thought I had pretty good habits already, and I thought it would be about breaking a bunch of bad habits or training myself to eat broccoli.

But it turns out that habits are even more important than I imagined. A lot of habits don’t pay off for a long time, which makes staying motivated to keep them hard. But habits will have more influence on accomplishing goals than actual goal-setting. Most of us have similar goals. Not everyone has habits that make accomplishing the goals possible.

The author suggests that, instead of celebrating big accomplishments, we should celebrate sticking to a good trajectory, staying the course, making and keeping good habits. It doesn’t sound quite as exciting as celebrating a big success, but maybe that’s OK because the morning after the big success usually means going right back to the boring habits that made the success possible. And that’s a good thing. Especially if you like broccoli.

The year is still new, and I’m trying out some new habits. I want to read more. I want to spend less time scrolling the internet. I want to do more pushups. I want to try to learn a little more Spanish, since I’ll be traveling to Mexico and I feel I’ve forgotten every word I ever knew. None of these activities will have any effect whatsoever if I only do them for a day or two. So I’m trying to get some new habits in my life and push out the things I’d be doing instead.

Progress in Spanish is slow, and pushups make me tired. I usually start too late in the day to get much reading done. But I am going to keep trying.

I like the idea that getting a little stronger or a little smarter or a little more fluent might become easier with time. None of these habits will ever be as fun as eating broccoli, but that’s a lot to ask.

Till next time,

Carrie

Carrie Classon’s memoir is called “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.