Coffee and Balloons: Pursuing ‘Better’ Over ‘Best’

We recently had guests stay at our house for a few nights. Anyone who has done this knows that this means a lot of sharing – and we love to do it.

As we drove to take care of a quick errand, one of our guests asked if he could stop by 7-Eleven for a cup of coffee on the way home. “There was some more coffee at home. Did you not like it?”, I asked. “Yeah, it’s good” he said, “I just like 7-Eleven better.”

Quality

To provide some context – I love coffee. We recently bought a French Press to make coffee in our house and love it. Deeper flavors, strong aroma, and all the oils being brought out from the freshly ground coffee beans make an incredible cup of coffee every-time. I was excited to share some great coffee with them.

Imagine my confusion then when he said he “preferred” a convince store cup of coffee over a freshly pressed one. Arguably, the cup at home was far better in quality – it was far fresher and had better flavors yet he wanted the “less superior” one. How could that be?

Now, there is nothing wrong with a 7-Eleven cup of coffee or something similar. I have enjoyed them over the years. This also isn’t a question of ‘right or wrong’– it is a question ‘better and best’. In other words, what makes us choose good when there is better within reach?

Quality Over Comfort

Putting coffee aside, this is a consistent theme in the human experience. Why chose car A over car B? Why go to event X and not event Y? Why invest in relationship E and not as much in relationship F?

We would like to think our choices are made based on the ‘best’ choices in front of us but that may not always be the case. Sometimes we choose car A not because it’s better but because it’s cheaper and that makes sense. Sometimes we choose event X because it’s closer to home and has more people we know and that is more fun. We even might choose relationship E because it’s easier and we are used to it and that is not a bad thing.

What we may need to acknowledge and wrestle with is that these decisions are not really based then on what is best but what we feel more comfortable with. Take my guest for example – after 25 years of drinking 7-Eleven coffee, there is a comfort about it. He knows that it will taste a certain way, a way that he likes and is used to, and that is valuable. There is not much internal dialogue about quality as there is knowability and comfort. Again, this is not bad and the effect of a good or better cup of coffee does not have a significant impact on life (or maybe it does) but imagine this sort of process with larger things in life.

A lot of times I need to take an internal check on why I do what I do. Am I pursuing things that are of good quality or things that I am comfortable with already? These don’t have to be mutually exclusive but often are. Whether it will require more work, more time, or more of you, our natural state is to fall back into what we already know.

Balloons

Take a ballon for example. Blowing more air into a balloon will help it expand. The moment you stop blowing on the balloon, without pinching it closed, it shrinks. As the balloon deflates it returns back to it’s most comfortable state – deflated. The balloon no longer has any inward pressure to grow and the outward pressure pushes until all the air is out. A lot of us live this way. We avoid ‘blowing up our balloon’ because it takes constant care and work. It’s easier to just stay where we are.

The reality is there are a lot of reasons to pursue what is good over what is comfortable. It will help us expand and grow in ways that comfort could never provide. This requires work, some perception shifts, and a willingness to be uncomfortable but it’s yield is great. Like balloons and coffee, work is required and comfort needs to be overcome but these are the steps needed to experience a quality we have been missing out on.

Greg Smith

Blogging about faith, life, church, and everything in between.

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