I used to hate black coffee. When I was 5 or so, my grandma would let my brother and I drink coffee when my mom wasn’t looking. Coffee for a 5 year old is really just a sugar delivery system: 8 oz of coffee, 5 sugars, 2 creams – a distinguished dessert.
As I got older, I never really changed my coffee doctoring habits. Coffee was cheap to drink (even free at the Jiffy Lube) and the bulk-pack sugar silo and room temp non-dairy creamer were never far away. (Random aside – What kind of freaky food product is labelled only for what is not in it? )
Then, when I was 16 or so, I was doing the 7-second pour from the sugar canister into my Casey’s coffee and it occurred to me that I spend, on average, 2 minutes per cup manipulating black coffee into hot hobo dessert juice. That doesn’t sound like much in the moment but over a lifetime, that’s a lot of my life spent doing coffee manipulation. It seemed like a waste. I then said to myself:
“Ben”, I said, “what if you could learn to just drink black coffee? Wouldn’t that save you a lot of time and effort?”
“By jove you’re right, Ben! Clever boy!” I replied.
So I set out to enjoy black coffee. For 30 days, I drank a cup of black coffee a day and hated it…for at least the first 20 days. And then something changed, kind of like when the heart of the Grinch grows 2 sizes that day, that kind of change. And slowly but surely I began to not just tolerate black coffee, I began to enjoy it. And not only that, it was a 10 second operation. Grab pot, dump coffee into mug, quality check with small sip, and then walk away leaving that poor sap who still uses 5 sugars and 2 creams behind to finish his business and clean up the inevitable mess he made.
I know, a minor success, and generally a little silly and ultimately non-consequential. But I wanted to change my habit, I committed to doing it, and it happened.
I still have a lot of habits I’d like to change. I’m a night person and I wish I was a morning person. My productivity style is more like the 50 yard dash then a marathon. When I have a free second my first inclination is to check my phone, not ask my kids a question. I spend a lot of time in other areas of my life doctoring coffee when I could be drinking it black.
Sometimes if you want to change your life, you actually have to change your life.