Warmth and Familiarity; Remedy or Ailment. When I received my last ‘roll up the win’ cup I won a coffee. One of about 6 such wins this year and a pleasant return on my years of faithful (if not addicted) patronage.
Their incentives are nice. But I drink their coffee because the taste is warm and familiar: as is the little caffeine buzz; as is the identifiable cave-like shape of their buildings; as is the comfortable fit and earthen color of their cups; as is the well-trodden path round their drive-through.
It is comical how unfaithful some of their changes have felt to me. I remember a mild indignation when MY coffee shop recently came out with dark roasted coffee. It felt disloyal to the brew that made them their name and to which I became accustomed. With irritation I also remember when one of My frequented stops shamelessly informed me they no longer carried MY raisin bran muffins. I felt my inner bear roar a tad.
Ridiculously so, I wanted my familiar. I wanted it packaged MY way; the real way; the way it should be. I want the Canadian brew…MY brew…the real brew…and no other! I wanted My large, one and a half cream…and I wanted it in a cup that portrayed the season’s sports (and not advertising a competing beverage). Maybe, on special occasion, a raisin muffin to boot!
Certainly this is a bit over the top. Yet, in all seriousness, we do need those warm familiar experiences to ground ourselves in the day. And we ought to be protective of them. According to studies, warm familiarities counter stress, sadness, and anxiety. They help us to stay in touch with our body’s sensibilities and emotional fluctuations; such that we are fully present (in the moment) and most effectively responsive to our situations.
Most of us have any number of such grounding habits. And despite those, which aren’t so good for us, like smoking, excessive caffeine, and over eating, experiencing warmth and familiarity has become part and parcel of that which makes a good day. They are a welcomed relief to whatever ails us.
However, all too often, our remedies can turn on us; becoming ailments of another sort. For example, my cantankerous squabbling about “MY coffee, My way”, can, in extremes and without flexibility, create greater stress then I am feverishly trying to maintain. One may say that the solution has become its own problem. And it’s called rigidity.
But fear not. We fervent protectors of the familiar have a built in safety mechanism. The aforementioned studies, which argue the benefit of warm familiarities, further argue that after a while, after warm familiarity has grounded us in a certain level of “happiness” or safety, the need for it decreases. And this marks an increased emotional resiliency for change plus enough cognitive clarity to adapt our behavior to new ideas and circumstance.
So, unless you enjoy being a grumpy coffee snob, or have otherwise gotten lost in some severe close mindedness, when we have had a goodly share of the familiar we are naturally ready for change. When all is well, there is a natural rhythm flowing between our need for the familiar and our need to press forward and (quite literally) evolve in whatever we are about.
As I see it, we all need those warm familiar feelings to ground us in our day. The challenge becomes determining the point at which our need for security stops and the creative work of progressing beyond the comfortable begins.