Yes, I’d like to order a Venti Caramel Crunch Frappuccino with five “banana” and extra caramel drizzle, whip, ice, Cinnamon Dolce Latte, caramel crunch, extra ‘Sltd Bm Btr’ (I can only accept salted buttermilk butter as a plausible explanation) with 7 pumps of dark caramel, five pumps of Frappuccino roast, a pump of Honey Blend, Frappuccino chips, heavy cream. Oh, double blended, please.
That was someone’s real order. Yes, I did look up all the abbreviations and wrote down the whole order in full words, something no one on the internet had done yet as far as I know. Keep in mind that we don’t have Starbucks in Albania, so the research was intense. Is this dedication or what?
After the barista posted this order and it went viral, Starbucks sided with the customers. In a statement to Fox News (?), they said:
“Customizing beverages at Starbucks and our baristas’ expertise in helping customers find and craft the right beverage has and always will be the heart of the Starbucks Experience…. Most customizations are reasonable requests from customers.”
Unfortunately for Starbucks baristas and coffee snobs around the world, that exasperating request was far from the first or last.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. It only took a few Starbucks orders and a lot of self-awareness and honest conversations with others to realize we humans overcomplicate everything.
Look at me for example. I could’ve easily said “we complicate everything,” but I had to use the word overcomplicate. Now that I think about it, the word overcomplicate is redundant and makes no sense.
I’m not sure I need to go in-depth with what I mean by that. We complicate things. We take a simple concept and we twist it and turn it and add so many caveats and buzzwords that we don’t even understand what we’re dealing with in the end.
Look at me for example. Grammarly, the free plugin that makes syntax, grammar, and semantics suggestions—that I try to avoid while I’m writing, but didn’t—suggested I rewrite the sentence above for clarity. I went with their version of the sentence. Then, I saw that I actually had to change more things after Grammarly was done with it.
Overcomplicated it! Oh shit, complicated it. We canceled overcomplicated.
As I mentioned before the Grammarly saga, I won’t provide any theories or examples to prove we complicate things. What I will do is share my very, very simple decision-making framework.
I was having lunch with a friend yesterday and I told her about how going with The Path of Least Resistance has helped me achieve my goals.
Here’s what I mean. In Are We Human, or Are We Buoy? last week, I shared that I was a competitive swimmer for a good chunk of my teenage years.
Swimming holds a special place in my heart, alas we have somewhat of a complicated relationship. Tennis is also very intertwined with my daily life because my family plays it, loves it, watches it, talks about it with other tennis lovers, and they even have a tennis store in Albania with equipment for amateurs and pros.
I also love running, biking, and climbing.
My friend and I were talking about exercising. She was exploring different exercise alternatives and I told her about how I decide.
See, I love swimming, but in the winter, it’s cold and it’s easy for me to talk myself out of it and now it’s so hot I have to coordinate how I’ll get there. I also need to think about my training bag. Have I removed all the hair in my body besides the one that resides on my head? Will I remove my makeup there or not wear makeup? Do I need two outfits? I need to wash my hair after so I need a shampoo, hair mask, and curling cream.
I love tennis. My boyfriend loves it too. The two of us play with my parents sometimes, and we have so much fun every time we do. But to play tennis, I have to think about reserving the tennis field, coordinating four people, and how to get there. I’ll be sweaty, so if I want to go out, I need to go home and shower first.
Personally, I get frustrated when I hear people go on and on and on about why something won’t work so I won’t put you through the same thing by making similar points about climbing and running and biking. Tennis and swimming should suffice.
At-home workouts, though? I’ve been working out with Fitness Blender for over a decade now. They offer over 600 free well-researched workout videos. You can filter by body focus (upper, core, lower, total), duration, difficulty, etc. The two trainers, Kelli and Daniel, are married, and not only are they not obnoxious bullies like many fitness trainers, but they were body positive before it was a thing. They focus on building strength for real-life rather than on metrics like weight, six-packs, or—excuse my French—a fat ass.
To work out at home, I don’t even need to dress cute. I can have olive oil in my hair, and I can squat as low as I like, always keeping proper squat form, of course. Weighted bridges don’t feel weird because no one is watching. Well, aside from when I forget to close my curtains.
I’m joking. Unrelated, but I hurt my leg, it’s hard to walk now, and I’ve been in so many taxis that I’ve filled my small talk quota for the year. No, we don’t have Uber either here. It’s the 90s, baby! One of the many taxi drivers that I talked to had a very, ehm, particular sense of humor. He said: “So you’re not Albanian, huh?” and confused, I said: “Yeah, yeah, I am.” He burst out laughing. I was like, ah, good joke. He said that if everyone had his sense of humor, the poorest person in Albania would have $500K. No one would steal, lie, or cheat. Anyway.
I still love going swimming, playing tennis, running, cycling, and climbing, but since I try to work out three times a week, I’ve chosen the path of least resistance to make sure I do.
And it’s been working out great, no pun intended. While I wouldn’t recommend going the easy route for important, understandably frightening life decisions, I’d definitely recommend making things easier for yourself for the tiny things that add up: a workout, a healthy meal, another afternoon without cigarettes.
It’s not just me saying so.
The paradox of choice
“Instead of increasing our sense of well-being, an abundance of choice is increasing our levels of anxiety, depression, and wasted time. Whether you’re deliberating between breakfast cereals, TV shows, career paths, pension plans, or lifetime partners, the amount of options out there can be overwhelming.”The Paradox of Choice, 10 Years Later, Paul Hieber for Pacific Standard
That’s from an interview with psychologist Barry Schwartz who introduced the idea in his book The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less.
Make things easier for yourself like I do. The fewer decisions involved, the higher the chances you’ll actually do that thing that you huff and puff at the thought of but know is good for you.
Finally, here’s a word from habit expert James Clear:
What can you stick to even on your worst days?
^ That was going to be the end of my article.
Ironically, I’ve been having such a hard time today publishing this article. I wrote it today, my site went down numerous times, WordPress crashes when I try to add images, a keyphrase, or a description, and I’m slowly but surely getting late for the Euro final.
But I promised I’d be here every Sunday. Here I am.