The bottle said, "Feel Good About What's in This Bottle." I like to eat oranges. I like to eat carrots. So a bottle of orange + carrot juice ought to be good, right? It turned out from the first swallow I began calculating how many days at four ounces a day it would take for me to finish off this nasty bottle of nutrition. I forgot a cardinal rule about liking things that are good for you: it's all about form.
Remember Mary Poppins? We want things that are good for us to be like that spoonful of sugar making the medicine go down. It has to be palatable. But the saccharine coating we require is not limited to medicine or food. We want a Walkman to make our jogging endurable. We want a bit of flattery to make the verbal correction seem reasonable. Like Calvin, we don't want the barfing face sticker, even if it is more truthful than the smiley face. Make the hard stuff pleasant.
When my kids were small, like all parents, I wanted to get good food down them. Quickly I discovered that the form you present it in makes all the difference. Celery is no fun, but celery with peanut butter down the middle and a row of raisins (and call it "Indians in a Canoe") is real eating. A whole apple is boring, but slice it up and use pairs of slices to make apple smiles and the doctor will never be at your door. The trick is making the nutrition fun. Somehow peanut butter always has something to do with it, too...
None of us likes discipline by itself. We want the reward that comes with it to keep deciding to do whatever that discipline is. Virtue, being its own reward, is all well and fine, but there would be a lot more goodness in the world if it was paid off with Godiva chocolate. And the more distant the reward, the harder it is to stay motivated. My bottom line motivation is to get to heaven, but on a day-to-day basis, I'm asking for the grace to get through one day. I haven't changed the goal. The top rung of the ladder is still there, I am just focusing on the rung above the one on which my foot currently rests. Like Psalty, we climb our mountains one step at a time.
So, if you want me to do a better job, tell me what I've been doing right so far. If you want me to smile more, smile at me. A kind word and a wink goes down better than a scolding. And beets cut into heart shapes will get eaten faster than ones that are just sliced. The flavor hasn't changed. It's all about good form.