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The Supermarket Approach to Life

It is easy to get caught up in the things about this life that we don't like, especially for some of us. We tell ourselves and others that listen that we have 'high standards', yet in reality we are ... very intolerant of those that don't think the way we do. To tolerate those 'fools' is unthinkable, yet in reality, the only one losing sleep and peace over those fools is ... the foolish one.

Okay, if this fits you don't worry. An escape is possible, and it doesn't mean endorsing those that you just can not live with nor tolerate. All you need to do is change a part of the way you view them. Take what someone calls "The Supermarket Approach" and you will mellow about them. They won't have control of you even when they are not around you, anymore. Satisfaction guaranteed!

You're biting? You want to know what "The Supermarket Approach" is? First, here's some alternative names for it: "The Convenience Store Approach" (that's a '90's term for it) and "The Mall Approach" (that a '70's term for it) are two that come to mind. Once we cross our bridge into the next century, then we will learn the new millenial term for this approach, or 'attitude' towards others.

I first heard of this technique, if you will let me call it that, back in the early 1980's. It was given to me to offer a way to increase my benefit from books that I read. I have since learned that I can use it toward people, towards cultures, towards philosophies.

Okay, here goes. Here it is. By the way, you have already used it dozens of times, if not hundreds or thousands of times without knowing it. Let me first use an example of someone failing to use it:

Andrey is going to the convenience store to get coffee on a cold, late autumn morning on the way to work. Going down the aisle of the store, he sees a jar of anchovies on a shelf. He doesn't like anchovies. To make sure that they are anchovies, he walks over to the jar and reads the label. Yep, they're anchovies.

(Editor's comment: We apologize for the apparent insensitive treatment of a very viable ethnic food. No harm nor slur to any anchovy nor anchovy admirer is intended. If you like your anchovies, GREAT! Please eat them so that there won't be any left for me. You are not less of a person because you like them, and neither am I because I don't enjoy their unique flavor. Now, back to the story.)

Anchovies! To make sure that everyone around him knows his opinion of anchovies (hey, it's a first amendment right), he does one of the following: berates the poor store clerk, and any customer in the store for being ignorant of the fouls of anchovies; demands to see the manager; sets up a picket protesting the sale of anchovies; or maybe even buys the jar so nobody else will and then throws it out. He may even choose to tell the manager that unless they stop selling anchovies, he will never come back into the store.

Gee, I thought he went in to get some coffee! His distaste for, his obsession with the anchovies has stopped him from doing what he wanted to do in the first place, get some nice warm coffee to heat him up on the drive to work. (Yes, if you hate coffee and love anchovies, this may have been tough to read.)

Wouldn't it have been better if he had just gone in to do what he wanted, and if he had noticed the anchovies, to just leave them there for someone else?

I do not condone this for everything. If we see dangerous situations for others as neighbors and citizens we should get involved. But when it comes to expanding one's own horizons, it's a great attitude to take towards reading a book. Go in, take what you came to get, which in this case you may have to learn what it was once you got into the book, refuse to obsess about the parts that you don't agree with, and move on!

In fact, this web site may be best 'viewed' with that same attitude. Treat this as a store that you walked into and are looking around. Take what is helpful, leave what isn't, and go on with your life. If there is enough variety here, and if what you got last time didn't help you long enough, you may come back. Hey, there are many cold mornings out there and I often use a cup of coffee to wake and warm me up!


Oh, by the way, if this is too cutesy for you, then you should realize that by tolerating those of different opinions and experiences, you are considered way more mature. If you think that those who disagree with you on technique are lower than you ... stop reading. You need a major tramautic experience before you can grow anymore. I'm not here to give you that, you must get it elsewhere.