Firstly – the title is a joke. I have not dyed my hair. Secondly:
Recently, my mother was so kind as to go to Aldi and purchase for me the thing my stomach craves more than anything else: food. She had asked me what I wanted beforehand, and I said I wanted shredded wheat cereal, among other things. Little did I expect the epic prank my mom would pull on me.
When she returned with the loot, I was obviously overjoyed. Food! As I rummaged through the goodies, I noticed something strange. The shredded wheat box was red instead of the orange I expected. “MOM!”
The shredded wheat was unfrosted! Oh, the humanity! How is a galoot supposed to sup on unfrosted shredded wheat?
My smirking mother entered the room. “It’ll be better with your honey,” she said, referring not to my non-existent love life but to the bottle of honey she had also brought me.
I guess, like usual, my mother was right. Mother always knows best. I resigned myself to my unfrosted fate and forgot about it.
Later, as Jonas’ stomach growls ferociously
I spied the unfrosted shredded wheat. Well, I thought, I might as well try it. I poured some honey out and started munching. Hey, this isn’t too bad! This whole grain really stirs up my fibers!
I soon developed a whole-grain tooth. Ice Cream? Truffles? Gordon Ramsay’s sticky toffee pudding? I’d rather just have some lightly processed wheat. You are what you eat, after all, and my wheat was shredded.
This hankering for the original unsugared form of shredded wheat is a perfect allegory for daily life.
We think we enjoy the frosted shredded wheat. We think we like the prepackaged, heavily sugared experiences. We think, “That video game, that concert, and that VIP experience will make me happy.” And it might. Frosted shredded wheat tastes good! But without taking off the sugar, we can’t discover the magic of the original shredded wheat.
Plus, the over-sugared experiences raise our expectations to an unrealistic level. When we expect life to be as perfect as the moments we share online, we’re inevitably disappointed. Life is full of low-key moments that could be just as satisfying as the Instagram highlights of life (which reminds me: There’s a DG instagram now!).
Oftentimes, my biggest achievements don’t make me feel as good as smaller ones. It’s the little things that I worked hard on that make me actually happy. Like the tower I built out of random stuff, or the picture for this article, or that my hair isn’t sticking up like I just hugged an electric eel today.
If you can enjoy the little, everyday successes, you’ll find a lot more contentment in life. Americans are far more future-oriented than other cultures. That means we have a tendency to focus on and look out for our futures more than our presents or pasts, in general. This can be useful (i.e., retirement funds), but it can also prevent us from finding satisfaction in the present because we always want things to be a little bit better.
The same thing can happen with the past. We can look backwards and feel nostalgia, thinking “Things will never be like that again.” That’s an idealization of the past – a sort of frosting on its shredded wheat. Memories are meaningful, but they usually leave out some of the raw facts of the situation and sugarcoat it.
So what’s keeping you from living life like a morsel of unfrosted shredded wheat? Is it your phone? Are you being sugared up by a constant stream of dopamine hits that temporarily satisfy you?
Is it media? Are you often consuming prepackaged entertainment like movies, books, or shows?
Are you living in the past or too focused on the future?
These things aren’t wrong. In fact, there’s a lot of good to them. Desserts are great, as long as you don’t have too much.
On the other hand, be careful to balance the frosting with the unfrosted. Activities that challenge your willpower like working out or cold showers are effective for me. Calm thoughtfulness can also ground you, like during walks, journaling, or prayer. Sometimes only a few minutes can be enough to reset your palette.
Stop right now and think what you’re planning on doing next. Is it frosted or unfrosted? Now’s your chance to start your munchin’ mission!