How Simple Mottos Can Become Guiding Life Principles

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Do you have a guiding principle that helps you solve problems and make decisions? Perhaps you’ve turned this principle into a motto or mantra for your life. There’s a saying at our house that has morphed over time and has applicability beyond it’s original purpose.

Life mottos and guiding principles

The saying is this , “She who cooks decides what’s for dinner.” It sums up our philosophy about how to best solve problems.

What does cooking have to do with making decisions?

You’re probably wondering how cooking dinner and solving problems are related.

Years ago I would sit down and plan out the meals for the upcoming week. I’d make notes on when to pull meat out of the freezer to thaw so that it would be ready on the night I was going to cook it. I hated coming home from work and facing the dreaded decision “What do I make for dinner tonight!”

So I would plan things out in advance. And it would never fail that Jungle Jim would walk through the door and ask, “What’s for dinner?” Invariably, I’d reply, “baked chicken” or whatever else I’d planned to cook that night, and he’d reply, “I don’t feel like eating chicken tonight.”

I, of course, would get mad. This was not what I wanted to hear after a long day at work.

After enough times of this happening, Jungle Jim finally figured out that responding, “I don’t feel like eating that tonight” was not going to be warmly received and he changed his approach. Instead of telling me that he didn’t like what I had planned, instead he’d reply, “Why don’t you let me cook tonight?”

THIS got a much better response!

Now I’ll admit right up front that Jungle Jim is really the gourmet at our house. I’m good with a recipe and I’m great at planning. But he’s the type who can taste a dish and say, “Hmmm, I taste a hint of coriander and thyme.” Or whatever – you get the idea. And I’d be sitting there thinking, “Gee, I could only tell that it tastes good.”

But I digress. The point is that he’s an excellent cook and has a natural gift for it.

Let the cook make the choice

Most nights he would ask me what I’d like for dinner (which was much nicer than I had ever been!). I’d tell him that I didn’t care because everything he cooked was delicious. Then I’d reply, “He who cooks decides what’s for dinner.”

It was my way of letting him know that as long as he was the one going to the trouble to cook dinner that it was only fair he get to decide what he wanted to make.

This finally became the rule we lived by as roles and circumstances would change throughout the years. Simply put, the party who was not going to be cooking – because they were too busy, tired, or simply not inclined to do so – would not express any judgment over what the other was going to prepare for dinner.A Woman in Her PRIME: She Who Cooks Decides What's For Dinner

It’s worked for us ever since. I’ll also add that it’s eliminated many fights and hurt feelings as well.

The phrase She who cooks decides what’s for dinner” has taken on many variations through the years. We’ve expanded the mantra to include decisions made outside the kitchen as well.

She who cooks decides what's for dinner. Click To Tweet

Variations on the motto

For example, the other day, Jungle Jim was explaining to me why he’d decided to put new tires on the car. Now, if truth be told, I don’t care WHY he wants to put new tires on the car – I’m simply not interested and I trust him when it comes to all decisions related to vehicle maintenance. But the other fact is this – since he does take care of all maintenance and car issues, it would be foolish for me to think that I knew something he doesn’t and try to offer an opinion.

In this case, He who takes care of the car decides when to purchase new tires.

Another example of the applicability of this motto took place a few weeks ago when were checking out in one of those humongo-marts. We got to talking to our checker and we were all complaining about Christmas decorating. I made the comment that I had decided to do very little decorating this year because I was busy. Our checker, on the other hand, sighed and said, “I wish I didn’t have to decorate. I’ve been very busy and I just didn’t want to spend all that time on it, but my daughter threw a fit that it just isn’t Christmas without all the decorations.”

I asked, “Does your daughter help you do any of the decorating?”

“No,” she replied. “I ended up doing it all by myself.”

Now I must state for the record here that I bit my tongue (really hard, I might add!). What I wanted to tell this woman was that if it was so important to the daughter that the house be decorated, then she should have pitched in and helped. Our motto applied in this situation here too – She who wants the house decorated should pitch in and do most of the work.

You’re probably beginning to see a pattern here.

It just makes sense to us that the person (or people, if others are involved) who is going to do the work – whatever that work happens to be – should make the decisions about how that work is going to progress.

  • The person who will have to implement procedures should have a greater say in the development of those procedures than someone who is removed.
  • The people who will have to deal with consequences and repercussions of a decision should be highly involved providing input in to that decision.
  • Those who are closest to an issue are probably best suited as to how it should be dealt with.

Now there are always exceptions to rules

There are times, however, when you have to do things the way someone else wants.

If your boss gives you an assignment then obviously you’d better complete the assignment within the parameters you’ve been given. There are times when “He who pays the salary gets to decide  how things are done.”

But in general, it’s not a bad motto to follow. It’s certainly helped us focus on the big picture instead of getting bogged down in details. I have two other mottos that I’ve also written about. “They Can’t Kill You” helps me keep situations in perspective so that I don’t blow them out of proportion, and “More Orange Chickens!” helps me get rid of the things in life that aren’t bringing me joy.

So back to the original question – do you have a guiding principle or motto that helps you solve problems and make decisions?

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