4 minute read

sugar and spice

I was recently sitting in a cafeteria and was struck by how the design of the things around us show what we value as a society. I took the picture for this article and thought, what does this show us about what we value?

If you were to just consider the size of the containers, what does that say? But then, look at the size of the holes/hole that the ‘spices’ come out of. What does that say?

So, if the design of something as simple as a salt and pepper shaker says something, what does the design of the sugar container say in comparison?

My first assumption was that we, as a society, put a lot of emphasis on sugar and like things that are sweet. And that may be true. We may use a lot of sugar and because of that need the larger container. There are certainly a lot of studies out there that would support this assumption. But is it the only reason for the larger sugar container?

No. Another reason for the larger container could be that it takes more sugar to make an impact on the taste of food, as opposed to salt and pepper. As an ingredient they may be more potent than sugar. The counter argument could be that we are desensitized to the taste of sweet things and so we need to put more sugar in things. Of course this is a circular argument and we could make the same argument for salt and pepper as well. I know that some people are known to lay on the salt pretty heavily as well.

Now, before we go too far down the rabbit hole of the relative potency of specific spices is, the original question was “What do you value?”

May people say that their families are important, yet spend little time with them. Instead they are so focused on money or work that they show, through their actions, what is really important to them. And even if it is important to them deep down, they have let other things subsume that level of importance until they do not recognize where their focus really is.

If you are curious about where you are really focused in your life, then the next question to ask is “what are the areas in my life in which the design clearly shows what my values are?” Here you are taking an inventory of your life and trying to dig out of it the things you are currently valuing and seeing if they are in alignment with what you say you value. If the two lists are not the same, then there are some changes you need to make. It’s not a bad thing, it just is. If they’re different, then set up a plan and habit that will help you focus on where you want to be.

Other questions than can help you in your evaluation are: “Can you tell, based on what I have in my house, what I value? What about the things I have? The setup in my home office? The spaces that are uniquely my own? How does my car reflect what I value? What would my spending say about my values? Am I spending more of my discretionary income on things that are relevant to my values or on things that are a distraction?”

When I went through this process myself I found that I spend a lot of my discretionary money on games. I like games. Board games, computer games, even video games. They are all a significant portion of my ‘play money’ spending. Put together with books, those two categories are almost 95% of all my expenses in that category. The question I then had to ask myself was why? Why do I spend so much time and money buying and learning new games?

So, the next time I was online, looking at another game I stopped myself and looked at what I was thinking at the time. When I buy a game I imagine or visualize myself sitting down at the table with my family playing the game. We’re there having a good time and enjoying the association the game brings to us.

I had never thought of that, and it’s has changed how I go about looking at games. I considered the pile of games we have in our closet that my wife calls “Dad’s Games” because they never see the light of day. I thought they would be something dun to play, but in reality we never play them because while they appeal to me, they don’t to the family. They were a disappointment.

Now, when I look at games I ask myself an additional question, “Do I really think that my family will play this game?” If the answer is “No” then I am much more likely to pass on it because I have learned that the reason I buy games is as an excuse to play with my family.

So, as you look at what you spend your time and money on, seriously ask yourself what your motivations are. Look at yourself and your thoughts are you spend the time in that actual situation and ask yourself what you are really thinking and feeling. As you do so, you may be surprised at what you learn and can, like in my case with the games, change a few things that will bring much more purpose to your life and what you do on a regular basis.