I’d like to think that most people have heard the expression “Everything in Moderation”, or some similar variation. Interestingly enough, the original saying “Moderation in all things” was said by the Roman Comic Dramatist Publius Terentius Afer in the second century BC. Humanity has been saying it ever since in one way, shape, or form.
Yet, what does it really mean? Officially, it is the avoidance of excess or extremes, especially in one’s behavior. That seems straightforward and logical. However like most things in life, the true meaning is only known when one can relate using personal experiences. Only until recently did I understand how moderation helps me be more present and mindful.
Coffee, an Unlikely Teacher
There are many different things we can do to change ourselves. For example, we can move to another place, lose weight, start exercising, learn a new language, or change careers. However, it took something as simple as drinking less coffee to serve up another personal life lesson. Yes, pun intended.
I love coffee. In the past, I drank several cups of coffee a day. One or two to start the morning, another one or two cups in the afternoon, and occasionally one in the evening. Caffeine never affected my sleep or raised my anxiety. That still holds true even today. However, I believe too much is not good either. Hence, I decided to reduce my coffee consumption to one cup a day. Why? I simply wanted to drink less coffee and consume less caffeine, but not give it up completely.
In my experience, abrupt changes in one’s routine may result in short term success, but usually long term failure which is right back to where I started. It’s not impossible for sudden change to result in spectacular success, however in my experience, the chances are low.
This path to success was a slow, but steady approach. First, I stopped having a cup in the evening. Then, I had one cup instead of two in the afternoon. Next, I stopped drinking coffee in the afternoon and only had two cups in the morning. Lastly, I reduced my morning coffee to one cup thereby reaching my goal. This whole process was incremental and deliberate which ultimately led to my success that I still maintain today.
Moderation and Mindfulness
I’m not bragging about my success, but sharing the hidden benefit that I discovered. That one cup, my only cup, is now a special ritual to my day. No matter if I’m at work, sitting in my home office, or somewhere else in the world, each sip causes pause and a sense of being present in the moment.
I notice the coffee’s smell, taste, and temperature. I become aware of where I am, what I’m doing, and what’s happening around me. When it’s all said and done, I feel focused and ready to tackle the day.
Sometimes the little things in life are our biggest teachers and personal experiences. The little things help us appreciate the world around us as we connect with a moment. With that said, my goal of drinking less coffee turned into an unintended but welcomed benefit of mindfulness.
But why stop there? There are many different things I do and experience everyday. Being aware and understanding why I do them, can only lead to learning more about myself.
Coffee has taught me that more isn’t better, but just enough is best. I question my daily habits and routines. I constantly wonder what I can improve to better enjoy the moments of my life. Moderation centers my awareness of what I’m doing and experiencing.
Perhaps the next time you drink a cup of coffee, take notice of what you’re doing and what’s going on around you. You never know, it might become a more meaningful experience.