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The art of unlearning

When I was a teenager, a group of us would crowd around the dinner table of the Dutch mother of one of our friends for their traditional Friday evening meal. I remember that meal as being so much fun – choice prepared meats and cheeses, ripe sliced tomatoes and a selection of hardy breads. It’s a memory I cherish, filled with delicious food and a lot of laughter.

Then my friend’s mother was told by her doctor that she needed to change her eating habits, marking the end of those dinners. I was sad over that loss. I often wondered how she managed to unlearn her way of celebrating food and company.

I lost touch, and never discovered how successful she was in unlearning something she loved.

I know from my lifetime of having to make similar changes that successfully unlearning something is an art, not a science. Yes, there are guidelines: for instance, there are recommended diets. But then, everyone knows how successful dieting is most of the time. Not until the person on a diet makes it their own, and invests that diet with some means of enjoyment, does it really succeed. That’s where art comes it – how to use the required ingredients as a skeleton – a structure – that you then dress to your particular liking.

Unlearning, for me, is not only about changing a habit, which is hard enough. It must also include an equally pleasurable or meaningful replacement.


Quote of the Week

To learn, her mind had needed to unlearn.”

– Joan He


How to break bad management habits


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