Much has been written demonstrating the value of investing in experiences as opposed to things when it comes to boosting our satisfaction with life. And I know from personal experience I rarely regret spending money on meaningful or unique experiences which is especially true when they include the company of friends or family, a fact I was reminded of when my parents came to visit over the summer. Although we had many very memorable experiences together, one that I was considering lately was our night out in the West End to see Wicked. The production was fantastic. And it was fun to see it together because none of us were at all familiar with the plot and although I appreciated the outstanding acting, singing, choreography, and set design – above all I’m always a big fan of a good story! There were so many thought provoking ideas and angles to consider throughout the show, but one in particular has stuck with me. At one stage, it seems, both to her and anyone on the outside, that Glinda (the Good Witch) has really got it all. She’s become quite famous, perceived as a hero and the Wizard’s PR darling, beautiful, and recently engaged to the It Boy -Fiyero. In the song “Thank Goodness,” she sings about the fact that she “couldn’t be happier” with her fairytale ending, all the while sounding much less than convinced about it herself. She feels conflicted about the fact that for her at least, “there’s a kind of, a sort of cost, there’s a couple things that get – lost, there are bridges you cross, you didn’t know you crossed, until you’ve crossed,” but repeatedly insists, trying to persuade herself that “happy is what happens when all your dreams come true.” And in light of my ongoing fascination with all things subjective wellbeing, positive psychology, and flourishing related – I couldn’t help but consider yet again the danger of the arrival fallacy and the illusion of happiness. One of the key ideas that I learned throughout my year long Happiness Project was that if we are waiting for the promotion, the new house, to get married, losing 10 pounds or some other circumstance to change as a precursor to being happy – we’re bound to be disappointed if and when it does. Although we may not necessarily compromise ourselves to the extent that Glinda had to get where she did, research shows that all too often, our focus on a particular destination, as opposed to enjoying the process, leads to disillusionment and dissatisfaction even when “all our dreams come true.” It’s important therefore that we learn how to stay in touch with ourselves along the way.
I can recount many times that I thought that what I really wanted was XYZ only to find it wasn’t really all that satisfying or believing that once such-and-such a thing happened, I would instantly have more time/money/patience/happiness/self-control/etc.. In many ways, anticipating a better future or reaching our goals serves us well and can even boost our happiness in the present. However it’s important not only to enjoy the process of getting there, but also to pay attention to the path that we’re on as we make the journey; lest we end up, as Glinda mused, crossing bridges we never even saw. As we go through life our goals, values, and priorities naturally shift and change, so it’s critical to continue checking in and to stay in touch with ourselves. What I want most in life now is somewhat different from what I thought was most important five years ago, certainly unlike what I thought mattered when I was a teenager, and dramatically different from my highest priorities as a three year old. As we continue to change and grow, we avoid going too far off track or continuing to chase after something which no longer holds as much significance, by learning to stay in touch with ourselves and through constant reexamination and confirmation of what really matters.
It’s all too easy for us to fall into the trap of thinking that was working well will always continue to do so, or that we’ve finally gotten something “all figured out.” And I’ve mentioned more than once in the past, that it’s often a challenge for many of us to know what it is that we actually like to do since we generally spend our leisure time in front of a screen of sorts or assume that everyonelikes music/traveling/drinking wine/etc. Which is why I have found it is tremendously helpful to increase our self-knowledge and learn to stay in touch with ourselves. For me that means, on a practical level, keeping a journal which helps me sort through my thoughts and feelings in a more systematic way, frequently checking in with “my people” who not only know me well, but also know when and how to challenge me, and continuing learn more about myself and others – the ways we are same, the ways we are different and what I can learn from the experience of others which research shows is often more insightful than forecasting what we think we will feel in the future if a particular decision is made.
Truth be told, sometimes it feels like a lot of work and it’s not always easy, but it’s certainly worthwhile to learn how to stay in touch with ourselves. And I’m still guilty of frequently arriving exactly where I thought wanted to be only to find out that I’m not as happy as I thought I would be when “all my dreams came true.” But it’s something I know that I can continue to work on and get better at detecting earlier when I’m going off the path or staying on one that’s going in the wrong direction. And conversely, it can also sometimes be those seemingly wrong turns that work out fabulously in the end. Such was the case for this cozy fall dinner option, a Whole30 Chicken and Broccoli Casserole.
- Cooked Chicken, Diced 2 cups (250 g)
- Broccoli Florets, 1.5" x 1.5" pieces 4 cups (600 g)
- Ghee/Clarified Butter 1 TBSP
- Medium Yellow Onion, Diced 1 each
- Garlic Cloves, Minced 3 each
- Sliced Mushrooms 1.5 cup (100 g)
- Tapioca Flour 2 TBSP
- Bone Broth 1 cup (200 ml)
- Paleo Mayo .5 cup (115 g) (Recipe HERE)
- Dijon Mustard 1 TBSP
- Nutritional Yeast .33 cup (15 g)
- Black Pepper and Sea Salt to Taste
- Dice the cooked chicken and broccoli florets and place both in an oven safe baking dish. Set aside.
- Heat the ghee/clarified butter in a saucepan over medium high heat and then sauté the onions for about 3-5 minutes until translucent.
- Add the garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant.
- Add the mushrooms and cook for another 5-7 minutes until softened. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350 F / 180 C.
- Add the tapioca flour and bone broth, whisking vigorously to avoid clumps. Bring to a simmer and then remove from heat.
- Add the paleo mayo, dijon mustard, nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper to taste - stirring to combine and then pour over the chicken and broccoli.
- Place in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes until broccoli is cooked through and golden brown on top.
- Remove from oven and enjoy!