Contrary to what you might think, this blog post is not really about coffee. It’s about getting over a hurdle we might encounter in everyday life, even when it is as mundane as brewing a morning coffee.

I’m not much of a coffee drinker, but I can appreciate a good cup of coffee; especially after my trip to Costa Rica where coffee could be REALLY good (or pretty bad, depending whether the person serving or selling it can be bothered).

My mundane hurdle is that I never learned how to make a proper cup of fresh coffee. I don’t know the difference between roasts, all I know is coffee smells good…and the combination of the aroma and warmth of the brew as it courses down my throat to my stomach is a feeling that invites memories of travels to different places. I don’t know how many spoons to put in a percolator or coffee maker, it takes me several minutes to figure out how to switch it on, and I have no idea how much water to put…you get the message.

Like any hurdle in our everyday lives, I guess it’s a matter of choice – whether we choose to learn, or just shrug it off as something “we can’t do”. Too often, we build walls and barriers around ourselves, telling ourselves we do not know how to do something, or we fear what others will think – and therefore it’s an excuse not to go for it.

I look across the tables in this cafe and see every person has a different type of coffee: flat white, black, cappuccino, espresso, mocha, iced. This represents the choices we make everyday; why is it easy to do or choose something we know we like, or want? Does choosing a coffee brew not have serious repercussions? Why do we often find ourselves stuck between a deep wish and a practical approach when it comes to major life changes? Or why do we stay within our comfort zones ?

Many of us are creatures of habit, and this does not necessarily mean that ‘habit’ means standing still, but it essentially is the condition in which we avoid growth. It’s easy for me to say I can’t make a good coffee, and therefore if I make a cup for someone and it is terrible – at least I’ve got an excuse.

I’ve inadvertently defaulted to a choice of purposely not learning how to make a good cup of coffee…even if I have the opportunity to learn…I’ve got friends who are passionate about this and can teach me to make a decent coffee.

Much of my time recently has been spent pondering…so I defaulted to the standard way in which we search for answers these days: GOOGLE IT! Be it by serendipity (or algorithms) I came across a whole playlist of TED Talks on how to make choices.

In Ruth Chang’s TED Talk, she talks about values – and how this is the determining factor on how we make ‘hard’ choices in life, and a hard choice doesn’t necessarily mean something life-changing; it could be choosing what to eat for dinner. Our values determine what is important to us as individuals.

“A world full of only easy choices would enslave us to reasons. It’s here in the space of hard choices that we get to exercise … our power to make reasons for ourselves. When we create reasons … to become this kind of person rather than that, we wholeheartedly become the people that we are. We might say that we become the authors of our lives…there IS NO best alternative! We decide…Who are we to be?

Ruth Chang, TED

So, back to the coffee situation…I guess making a good cup of coffee was not high up there in my ‘values’ – but serving and showing care towards people and myself are up there in my list, which means that I no longer have an excuse for making a bad cup of coffee.

When you boil it down, any inability to do something is often a choice. Knocking this wisdom into my head: Get over this hurdle, choose what aligns with personal values…gain confidence that the choices made are the right ones for that time.

Listen to this: First Aid Kit’s My Silver Lining :-)