Learning to Like 3 Certain P’s, Just Not the Green Ones.

Green Peas

Learning to like vegetables is a milestone for every kid, it seems. When I was young there weren’t many that I liked, but I absolutely hated green peas, specifically the canned, LeSueur peas. They’re the ones my parents liked and would buy on a regular basis. I got to the point where I expected my parents to employ some new tactic to convince me to like these “incredibly sweet peas” whenever they were served. It never worked. However, there was one tactic that certainly captured the attention of my young mind. The idea was…BB Peas.

I absolutely loved my BB gun. Mine was no Red Ryder, spring loaded, weak BB gun. This was a multi-pump pneumatic BB gun, and in my mind it was far superior to other BB guns. It gave me such joy to design and create all sorts of intricate targets out of scrap cardboard and old soda cans only to to fill them full of holes! I spent countless hours in my backyard with that BB gun.

So, it’s no surprise that the closest my parents ever got to actually getting me to consider liking green peas, was to call them BB peas. Think of Popeye and his spinach. This was the idea behind BB peas. If I’d commit to eating these round, green, healthy peas whenever they were served, they’d make me strong and healthy. The might even give me super-powers.

I mean, they were a vegetable shaped like the ammunition in my favorite rifle. It made sense. So, I really wanted to like them because, what if eating them would make me grow up big and strong. I would certainly need extraordinary strength to accomplish whatever feats my superhero future would call for…but man, those peas were so gross! I just couldn’t do it (and still can’t).

Learning to LIke The Things We Need is Difficult

There are plenty of things in life that we know we need, but don’t like. Plenty of habits we know we should develop because in the long run they’ll do us good. However, a lot of things in life that are good for us are also difficult (or just don’t taste good.) As adults, we’ve come to accept the fact that progress in life comes at a cost of some kind.

If we’re going to get stronger, we’ve got to workout and deal with the soreness. If we’re going to learn a new skill, we’ve got replace hours of Netflix binge watching with taking an on-line class, or reading a book to help is with that subject. Growing in one area of life often means putting another area of life to death.

I’ve come to the realization recently that if I want to accomplish the dreams I have for my life, I’ve got to say no to the things that are adding no value to my life and prioritize time for the things that are. I’m not saying there’s no room for binge watching a show and eating way too much ice-cream every now, but that should be the exception, not the norm.

Back to the BB peas. I still don’t like green peas, but I’ve learned over the years to love all sorts of veggies that I didn’t like as a kid. I made myself keep trying new vegetables until I found the ones I liked, or could tolerate, because I realize how important healthy eating is to having a healthy body, and life. I have to choose to say no to more potato chips, which I love, because broccoli is better for me in the long run.

Now, this next part is going to be corny (pun intended) but that’s intentional because my hope is that the “corniness” will help you remember these 3 things that I believe are important to our growth. Even though I hated peas as a kid and still do, I think these three P’s are vital to thriving in midlife…I told you it was corny.

Learning Presence

I recently came across this post on LinkedIn and was impacted by it because I can totally relate. I really struggle to live in the moment, to be present. Like John Mayer, I also find myself waiting for one thing to be over, just so I can move on to the next. In the video, he reflects on his life and makes the keen observation that when we live in such a way that we’re just waiting on the next thing to happen, we’re wishing away the time that we have.

I just turned 47 and it makes me sad if I think about all of the times I’ve wished away instead of being present, enjoying the moment, and making memories. I can’t change the past, so dwelling on it isn’t helpful. However, there’s something to be said for what we can learn from our mistakes.

After all, regret is real and painful, and can also be a powerful catalyst for change, if we use it to our advantage. When painful memories from the past rise to the surface, our best approach is to acknowledge the emotions we feel from that regret, make note of how we can live now to avoid those same painful mistakes, and then choose to live differently today to avoid repeating the past.

If we make a conscious decision to not spend time dwelling on the past and instead put more purposeful energy towards working with the time we have, we can change. We can become the person we want to be instead of looking back in frustration at the person we weren’t in previous years.
(BTW, If you’re looking for a good podcast to listen to about how regret is a great teacher, this is it!) 

Learning Purpose

This won’t be easy, I know. The easy way is to continue beating ourselves up for our past failures, believing we are who we are, and that’s just the way it is. However, I truly believe there’s a different, better way.

In stead of perpetuating a sense of hopelessness or helplessness by dwelling in the past or even worrying too much about what might happen in the future, we can work harder to control how we respond to today. I’m learning that being more present requires great intentionality. We have to choose it everyday. It has to become habit. And as I’ve said in previous posts, life is a marathon, not a sprint, so this isn’t going to happen overnight.

I’ve started being much more intentional with how I spend my time lately, to make sure that I’m working towards the things I say are important to me. I’m realizing that if I continue to wait for change to happen, hoping to just wake up and one be a different person, it never will. I’m in my 40s and there are things about me now that have changed very little over the last 20 years. That’s because I haven’t worked at it with purpose.

In 3 years I’ll be 50, and then shortly after that 60! I don’t want to get to that point and still be feeling the way I do now about myself and my choices. So, I’ve decided to be purposeful with the days I have, believing it will greatly increase the odds that my future days will better than the ones I squandered in the past.

Learning Patience

When, and if, I make it to 80 years old, I know there will still be certain things I will look back on and count as loss. There will be times that I fail to love my wife and my girls the way they deserve. I will most likely make some decisions that set me back financially. I will experience times of loneliness because I haven’t been the friend I want to have, and haven’t pursued friendships the way I should. There are going to be days when I worry too much about the future and things that are outside my control. This list goes on.

And yet, these missteps aren’t what ultimately define me, or you. It’s what we do in the moments soon after they happen. We can choose to dwell on the mistakes, or we can acknowledge them, ask for forgiveness, and then forgive ourselves. If we’re going to persevere in this life, we have to learn to be patient with this process, accepting that it’s going to take hard work over an extended period of time.

We must learn to be patient with ourselves and remember that growth in this life is not a destination but a continual process—a journey of becoming. So, as we embrace this challenge, let’s be purposeful with the moments we have left to live and be patient with ourselves when we screw up, because we will. And when we do, let’s take that step back in the right direction, reminding ourself that each step we take forward, we inch closer to the person we aspire to be…

Even if we never learn to like peas. 

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