Your Life Is A Chinese Dish
How a Chinese takeout inspired me about having a “rich” life.
Recently I came across a Chinese recipe that’s quite popular across the world — the infamous Kung Pao Chicken(宫保鸡丁). This is a classic dish among the Asian communities.
Much like any other dish, this recipe is tasty because of its richness in flavor. We would normally just describe the dish as being “delicious” but it actually has a combination of a few flavors:
- Spiciness from dried chilies and ginger;
- The slight bitterness from the dark soy sauce;
- Saltiness from soy sauce;
- Sweetness from sugar;
- Numbness from Sichuan peppercorns;
- Aroma from Chinese Shaoxing rice wine;
Imagine this, if you bite on a dry chili on its own, you’re gonna tear up in seconds. Similarly, try tasting the Chinese rice wine and you’d probably hate it for the rest of your life.
However, when you combine them together, they synergize with one another and helps boosts the overall flavor of the dish:
- Sugar helps tone down the bitterness of the dark soy sauce and spiciness of the dry chilies;
- The Chinese Shaoxing rice wine boosts the flavor of meat;
- Sichuan peppercorn is a great compliment to the aftertaste of spiciness (DO NOT eat it on its own, it’s weird!);
My point is, you need a variety of flavors to make a dish taste “rich”, just as how you would pair a piece of cake with a cup of coffee or tea.
Apparently, that’s how our lives should be as well. A dash of good times, sprinkle on some tough experiences, coupled with some peaceful days, and you get the perfect recipe for a truly rich life.
A new type of phobia
The general definition of “phobia” is an extreme fear of something. There are many types of phobia that have been discovered throughout human history:
- The fear of spiders — Arachnophobia;
- The fear of confined spaces — claustrophobia;
- The fear of water — Hydrophobia;
And in recent years, I’d like to coin a new term — “Hardshipphobia” for the fear of going through tough times. Cringey, I know, but it just seems true for our people nowadays.
Social media is always flooded with people having a good time, all the time.
This unrealistic portray of a good life suggests that if you’re not enjoying every single moment of your life down to the bones, it might not be a life worth living.
Let’s be honest — most people put up their best moments on social media. Skim through your Instagram feed and you’ll find people having the time of their lives, sipping on over-priced lattes, getting excited over that dream car they bought, and everything that has happened to them.
There’s nothing wrong with sharing your achievements or enjoyments. The problem is that most people use social media too much. Browsing aimlessly has become something you do whenever you’re trying to fill time.
Given enough time, you believe that you should have a good time every given day. Whenever something that seems unfortunate on the surface happens, you question your fate about why others have it better, when everyone is going through the same shit.
No. Everyone is dealing with their own mess, you just don’t see it on social media. Stop trying to expect your life to be a smooth sail journey and you just might enjoy the journey more.
Be grateful for the tough times
“Muscle growth happens at the last few reps when you’re struggling.” Ask any fitness instructor and you’ll get the same answer. There’s not a single person on earth that better themselves from smoking weed all the time.
It’s nice to feel happy and safe. It’s a sign that we’re free from stressful times. The flip side? It also makes us complacent, which differs from being content:
- Being content is feeling grateful even if the times are tough;
- Being complacent is refusing to grow up because it’s tough;
It’s natural for people to take things for granted after getting used to something. Do a favor every day for someone and they’ll think that it’s your responsibility to help them out.
Similarly, we’ll easily take our good or peaceful days for granted given enough of it. Without going through hardship, you’ll never come to realize how good you had it.
Tough times is the secret sauce
Tough times are also a sign that you’re stepping out of your comfort zone.
You’ve grown tired of being the way you are and you wanted to change. Enthusiastically, you took the first step, and then the second, and then you hit a wall. At this point, you realize something — Change is difficult.
Now your primary reaction might be to quit, many people will. This is fear telling you to stay in your comfort zone and do not challenge the unknown. It’s also at some point you realize that fear is a suggestion. You hear it but you don’t have to take it. So you can continue powering through the tough times even if you are scared.
A few years after you sail through the storm, you might sip on some tea with a piece of chocolate walnut cake on your balcony. You think back about the shit you’ve been through which brought you to where you are now.
You’ll thank yourself for embracing the hard times, so much so that now you’re able to enjoy your bowl of Kung Pao Chicken.