When good old habits offend

Something interesting happened yesterday evening and it got me thinking about human beings and our different preferences. The scenario brings to mind the saying that one man’s meat is another man’s poison.

Here’s what happened. I have this habit of reading or doing something while I’m eating. Even though I’m eating, I love my mind to be engaged. It’s a way for me to tune out and go into my shell. So if I’m not having a conversation or watching a movie while I’m eating, I’m almost always reading a book, going through social media feeds on my phone or playing scrabble on my i-pod. Yesterday, I was told that this habit of mine was setting a bad example for the children that are around me.

I was taken aback by this statement. Bad example? How? I developed this habit when I was in primary school and my parents never saw anything wrong with it. In fact, that was what I was known for; reading and eating. Since reading a book didn’t stop me from finishing the meal in front of me, I guess my family never considered it as a big deal. They accepted my habit and let me be.

So now I find myself in this rather amusing situation; letting go of my age-long habit or finding a way around it. Obviously I’m not going to stop reading or engaging my mind while I’m eating. Unfortunately it’s too late for that. The amount of information I assimilate during that time is too precious to give up. What bothers me now is the thought that it is a bad habit to someone. I’ve been pondering on this since last night. I’ve looked at it from the point of view of letting the children have proper table manners. Growing up, my family didn’t do much of eating together at the table. You take your food, find a convenient spot and eat. When I was younger, that spot was the sitting room but as I grew older, it became my room (that was my little haven). So I guess it’s bad table manners to read while you are eating on the table. Also there’s the angle of not getting the children hooked on mobile gadgets. More often than not, I usually read from my phone in this particular house because it’s not convenient to read a physical book. So in that sense it’s a bad habit right?

I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m dwelling so much on this. After all, you can’t please everyone and you shouldn’t pay attention to people’s opinion. Well that’s true but no man is an island. We don’t live in our own cocoon. Once you step out into the world, you realise that people’s taste and preferences differ. Again, one man’s meat is another man’s poison. To have order and harmony, we have to try as much as possible to make sure our actions and habits are not negatively impacting our neighbour. It’s not as if those actions as bad, it’s just that for some reason, your neighbour considers them to be bad. We have different backgrounds and upbringing so we definitely cannot agree on everything.

What’s the solution? Compromise. In as much I as hate staring into blank space when I am eating, I have to respect the wishes of my ‘neighbour’. I have just resolved to eat in my room. At least there I can do what I like without any restrictions (fingers crossed, this does not pose a problem too). I think the world would be a much better place if we all worked hard to create that harmony; respecting people’s ways or culture and trying our best not to do anything that would be considered offensive. I agree it’s not always practical to do so but such situations can still be handled with grace.

Phew! Glad I got that off my chest. It was really bothering me. Moving on to more exciting news, I want to introduce the launch of the ’25 on 25 Series’ on my blog. “25 on 25, what’s that”, you ask. Well I guess I’ll call it a little birthday present to myself. 25 days from Thursday I will turn 25 so the series is an avenue for me to reflect on my life so far. Everyday you will get to learn 25 things about me. I don’t know exactly what I will write on but I’ll take it one day at a time, praying hard that I don’t get stuck in the middle (*big smile*). I’m excited! The first post goes up on Thursday so…let’s do this!

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