The 365 Days Podcast—Getting Better Every Day is a podcast that will issue weekly challenges to help us all become better. The weekly goals will be small and simple but lead to a life that is more organized, healthy and productive. You’d be surprised at how small things can make a big difference and really add up.
In 2009 I challenged myself to cook every single day of the year in my slow cooker. Each day was one drop in the bucket until at the very end of the year my bucket was full and I had made 365 different slow cooker recipes. When I started my challenge I didn’t know very much at all about the slow cooker or even cooking in general. But by cooking one recipe at a time I have become an expert at making slow cooker recipes! I know what will work and I know what won’t work. Granted, there are times where I have a recipe fail but for the most part I can predict how things will turn out.
At what point did I become a slow cooker expert? Was it my first recipe? No. Was it my 100th recipe? Maybe. Or was it my 1000th recipe? It’s hard to say.
When my husband Greg and I got married, he was not a runner. I had participated in cross country and track when I was in high school and running was a big part of my life. It still is. I tried to convince him to join me running. He hated it. He mumbled under his breath the entire time and I think he may have been cursing me a bit for making him go. However, for whatever reason he started running fairly regularly. He told me that at one point he was running this favorite loop that we had and he thought to himself, “I’m not tired! I feel good! I’m never going to let myself get out of shape again.” And he hasn’t in fact. He is a more dedicated runner than I am now. At what point did he become a runner? He wouldn’t have called himself a runner on that first awful run together. But at some point between feeling awful and feeling amazing he had become a runner!
My friend Heidi is a special education teacher for first graders and has been doing this for 18 years now. I asked her how she felt on the first day of class as an intern. She told that she was completely overwhelmed and had realized that her degree really had meant nothing and had not prepared her for this job! However, 18 years later she feels like she’s “got this.” Yes, there are times of it being overwhelming and hard but going to class every day and practicing and learning every day has helped her become a teacher. At what point would she have considered herself an expert at teaching special needs 6 year old kids? Maybe not in the first year, but as time has gone by and she’s learned from all those kids and all those experiences she has become an expert.
One of my favorite podcasts to listen to is “Happier” by Gretchin Rubin. She says:
“If ten coins are not enough to make a man rich, what if you add one coin? What if you add another? Finally, you will have to say that no one can be rich unless one coin can make him so.”
In my memory, I recalled this argument as: “Will one coin make a man rich?”
I think the “argument of the growing heap” has stuck with me because it captures a paradox that I grapple with in my own life, and which is very significant to happiness: Often, when we consider our actions, it’s clear that any one instance of an action is almost meaningless, yet at the same time, a sum of those actions is very meaningful. Whether we focus on the single coin, or the growing heap, will shape our behavior.
Going back to my cooking example I like to think of each recipe that I made as a coin. At what point did I become “rich” aka a slow cooker expert?
Which run made my husband a runner?
Which class that Heidi taught made her a teacher?
We can’t say, but what we do know is that each coin or each recipe or each run or each class makes a difference and adds to the growing heap of coins and eventually makes us rich!