How to Cut the Crap and Stop Settling for Less

Cut the Crap!

Today, for the first time in five months, I ate a fat, decked-out, All-American hamburger: a 1600 calorie behemoth dripping with cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and a side of fries. I won’t name the restaurant, just know they have franchises in Korea and there’s a day of the week in their name. After chomping down about ¾ of the burger, I started to feel weird. Now, seven hours later, my insides are still twisted, and I’m keeping a trash can beside my desk just in case I can’t keep it down.

At home, I’d occasionally have a burger and would often eat ridiculous, American-size meals, but here I’ve eaten mostly Korean food. Spicy and delicious, Korean is reasonably healthy, samgyeopsal notwithstanding. Beef is expensive and I mostly avoid it; I suspect this is why the burger hit me like a police baton. My kimchi-lined stomach just couldn’t handle the sudden introduction of so much sickeningly delicious red meat. Now I’m starting to wonder if I’ll ever eat burgers again.

On the bright side, this provides a nice anecdote for today’s topic: Tolerance for Crap.

This has nothing to with race. This is more like tolerating crap, and how continued exposure to crap builds up not only a resistance to it, but also an expectation that crap is the norm, all because this is what we’ve come to expect. Think of an animal grown accustomed to daily beatings, or our reaction to a politician’s sex scandal.

People can grow to accept a lot of crap in their life, and like the frog in the kettle, the long-term results can prove disastrous, spending their lives with jobs or people they secretly despise. Eventually, with a continual, incoming stream of crap, crap becomes the norm and we settle for it or go on a murderous rampage. Other crap we settle for includes, negative attitudes (our own and other’s), bitter people, hypocrisy, sensationalized news, low-quality products from Wal-Mart, and most ISP’s customer service.

Crap seems normal because that’s what we’re used to, and we learn to deal with it.  Worst, without taking action, crap becomes a baseline by which to judge other experiences, crappifying other areas of our lives. People begin to think every business wants to rip them off, every employer wants to screw them over, every dark alley promises murder, and every politician wants to tax breathing.

Sometimes it’s hard to realize something is a problem until it’s removed and later reintroduced. Like temporarily quitting television or tobacco, going back makes you realize how utterly pointless and ultimately destructive such things are. One steals your free time, the other kills you.

What can we do? Cut the crap!

If something feels off, stop doing it for a while. If it’s a relationship, try and put some distance between yourself and the other person (this relationship can be romantic or otherwise). If it’s a job, take a vacation. Ideally, a month away should provide enough perspective to judge whether or not something is crap, but some things can take longer. As for relationships and jobs, these things can be difficult to back off from, but the effort should prove instructive.

As for me, that might have been my last hamburger.

Pass the kimchi.

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