Save the Best for Last!

“We all want to savor what we like for as long as we can, but we do not need to go through life waiting and wanting.”

Yesterday I gave my daughter some chocolates. She quickly gobbled up a few and kept her favorite one for later. I asked her why she had kept her favorite one, and had she not particularly liked the first ones she ate so quickly? Her reply was, “Mummy, I am saving the best for last.”

I think I did exactly the same when I was young. In fact my mother used to do the same and I suspect her mother and grandmother did the same. Somewhere, somehow, in our psyche perhaps we have been programmed and conditioned to save the best for last…? 

I am not sure where this belief originated and whether it is the right thing to do or not? But it got me thinking: Why do we save the best for last? What if that last was too late? 

I remember a beautiful set of china in my house where I grew up which always stayed neatly packed and put away. I asked my mum, when would we use it? She said it was for a special occasion and that it was rather expensive, so we had to be extra careful with it. The result was that we never ended up using it. It stayed neatly wrapped and occupying space in the cupboard. I left home when I was 20 and sort of forgot about that china. When my mum passed away, it became my duty to sort out her stuff (stuff that she had collected over years and that was all neatly wrapped in tissue and plastic). I saw the expensive china dining set and with great trepidation opened it. It was indeed beautiful, but it had gotten stained over the years! It had never been used and yet it had gone brown and showed very fine cracks. I saw it and cried and cried. 

Maybe it was not that special after all?

What would have made it special would have been the memories associated with its use, the occasions that would have been termed ‘special’ just because we chose to make them special. What if we had used it just for fun? Imagine the occasions, simple celebrations of the fact that we were all together. We never realized that just being together and being alive was reason enough to celebrate. I don’t think it was my mother’s fault and I don’t blame my grandparents either. It was just the way things were. It was all a part of conditioning based on fear and lack. 

Most of us go through life and keep waiting for those special moments when things will begin to feel special. We put happiness on hold in anticipation of a better tomorrow. We keep our best linen and our best china neatly wrapped in anticipation of a special moment. For example, the special moment when I get that promotion, the special moment when my child graduates, the special moment when… when what? What are we waiting for?

Why do we do this? 

Why not make every moment special? According to Buddhist teaching, death is definite, but its time is uncertain. So why not rejoice in all of the moments of life while we have them?

I know I have digressed a long way away from the irresistible chocolate story and why my daughter wanted to save it for the last. But a child who is getting conditioned in the theory of “saving the best for the last” was definitely not something I wanted to encourage and needed to rethink.

At the same time I do not wish to imply that we should live a nihilistic lifestyle with no regard or appreciation of the future either. We all want to savor what we like for as long as we can, but we do not need to go through life waiting and wanting. In our waiting and wanting we forget to appreciate the moment and fail to realize that every moment is special and that every piece of chocolate has a distinct yet pleasurable taste.

Ironically, my daughter lost her favorite chocolate. My dog had realized it was something rather special and very appropriately found his salivating mouth all over it. Inara was inconsolable, but in this case I had a few extra chocolates tucked away and very quickly replaced the one that had found its way into the dogs belly. Unfortunately in life, we often do not get the second chances to replace what we lose, or to make up for moments that could have been special had we realized what they were.

So go get that beautiful china dining set out, lay the table with your best table cloth, glassware and treasured items and decide to make every moment a special moment. Celebrate any occasion as special.

Next time someone offers you your favorite chocolate, grab it with both hands and thank the makers for that irresistible smooth creamy taste. Start living in the now and revel in the abundance that life offers, and not in fear and regret.

Editor’s note: Shveitta is a life coach and a regular contributor to Buddhistdoor International. Her column is devoted to all that she has learnt about happiness. According to her, happiness is a daily habit. As with any skill, the more we practice, the better we get.

She has interviewed thousands in search of an answer to her personal question: What is happiness? She spoke with psychologists, fortune tellers, mystics, CEO’s, university professors, trash collectors, housewives, children, and anyone else who would share their ideas. Today she travels around the world sharing what she learnt.

She has written for other online publications and magazines. She holds regular talks in schools, corporations and universities. Her mission is to be MAD: To Make A Difference by making this world a happier place.

Catch up on Shveitta’s happiness blog here

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