Happiness and Cheese

04/25/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

The other day I was in Whole Foods and decided to purchase some cheese. Sounds easy. I am in the food business, read labels, and know a little about cheeses. It was overwhelming for me. I thought raw cheese was supposed to be better, so I started picking up each individual cheese to read the label. The labels said pasteurized, raw or unpasteurized. Wasn't unpasteurized the same as raw? It had not been heated? I thought there were only two things: raw or pasteurized?

Then I realized that there were the soft cheeses, like brie, and the harder ones, like cheddar. Hadn't I just read somewhere that soft cheeses were better for us...or was it the harder, aged cheese? I study foods for a living, so I would have expected more from myself. Then I realized that was written on each section was the source of the cheese, be it cow, goat or sheep. Didn't someone tell me that sheep or goat was better, but then I don't like how goat cheese tastes or its texture. So, now I was choosing between raw, unpasteurized, pasteurized, soft, hard, goat, sheep, cow cheese. I ended up buying two cheeses that looked okay, I had no idea what they would be like and left. They were okay, I enjoyed them -- I liked the soft one more than the other.

It seems that my experience at the cheese counter is almost symbolic for life. In a hurry, so many choices, trying to remember what is supposed to be good for us that day and trying to make right decisions on the spot as efficiently as possible. At first I almost felt pressure at the cheese counter to "get it right." What came to my mind in the moment was to simply slow down and pause long enough to enjoy the luxury of choice, the luxury of having the time and resources to choose and to pay attention as to how I felt and what appealed to me. When I slowed my body and mind down enough, got all the commercial or food propaganda out of my head, certain cheeses appealed to me more than others. And, if I got it home and wasn't crazy about it I could return it or just not buy it again. Or, at many stores, they will even provide samples on request to help choose better.

I also remembered that when it come to lots of decisions in life, be it food, career, friendships, slowing down and paying attention to my body and how I feel will often guide me better than any magazine article or expert. When I slow down and pay attention as to how I feel eating a certain food, participating in a certain activity or spending time with someone, it is usually very apparent whether it is good for me or not. I have every right to make choices that either feel good or bad to me, however, it is only by slowing down that I can really differentiate. I do admit I feel a little guilty taking my time and paying attention to how I feel. Almost like I am wasting time and not being "efficient." However, efficiency can get to the point where we are not even human any more. I also can come from the faulty mindset that there is one "right" decision and that to be perfect I must correctly choose that one. That is a false belief and can also result in feeling a lot of pressure and take the fun out of anything.

My new perspective starts with reminding myself that there are lots of okay choices. I am also trying on that the difference between enjoying free time and wasting time is simply my perception. Puttering around my house or taking 15 minutes to choose a type of cheese or bouquet of flowers may not look like the best use of time, however, it can make me feel relaxed and almost giddy with freedom and time. Are we machines or all we human beings? You have every right to listen to your body, take a nap or walk in the middle of the day when possible even though there is stuff to do and enjoy whatever you are doing. And, consider purging your head of the experts, the articles telling you one day what is good for you and the next day that it is bad for you and know that you probably have a pretty good sense, when you slow down and pause, what is best for you as you will feel it in your body. And, while you may not always know what the best choice is or the perfect way to do something, odds are what you do will be more than okay and that is good enough.

Founder/CEO Laura's Wholesome Junk Food