Cookie Cutters and Sweet Spots

Golden Rule #19: Beware the Cookie Cutter Solution.

What works great for someone else might work great for you. Then again, it might not. I have learned to be mindful of cookie cutter solutions. One size sure doesn’t fit all.

That being said, it’s always worth listening to how someone else has addressed a challenge, a question, an issue, or a problem in their own lives. Other people’s solutions drive what we wear, what we eat, what we sleep on or in, what we drive, and sometimes even what we do. Think about the seemingly endless offerings of “how to’s.” You can Google it, you can YouTube it, you can Pinterest it, you can Instagram it…all these exciting new verbs! There are podcasts, webinars, FaceTimes, video conferences, and so many more options for scooping up other people’s solutions and pouring them into the hopper. But wait! Are we then fitting the solution to our problem, or tailoring our problem to the solution?

Sometimes a quick patch just isn’t enough. Sometimes you gather the information, mull it over thoughtfully, and then determine your course of action based on what’s right and appropriate for your unique situation. It’s never a bad thing to hear the wisdom of others, but in the end, you have to own your solution, and its consequences.

When Copper was a puppy, we quickly learned that his brain emitted two strong chemicals: adrenalin and melatonin. The adrenalin rush might have made him cute as a puppy, but quickly made him tend toward wild, hard-to-handle moments involving very sharp puppy teeth. Not cute at all. We learned the “football hold,” picking him up and tucking his two front paws underneath our forearms and gently but firmly holding him in that position. Did he struggle? Usually. Eventually, we earned the long-awaited “huff” as he sighed, signaling his submission. At that point he was admitting we were in charge of the situation, and he was releasing melatonin, resulting in much calmer behavior.

post walk repose head shot

That wasn’t a mean power struggle at all. We just calmly reassured him by our body language that we were in charge, and he eventually acknowledged that fact. No yelling, no hitting, no banishing, no startling…and no cookie cutters. We just took those moments as they came, and learned to apply the correct solution to the issue, rather than fitting the issue to the solution.

That, by the way, is a short-term fix almost guaranteed not to work in the long run. It’s why the plethora of books and guides and journals and systems and plans eventually come up short. Rearranging your life to fit the solution is, in the long run, an exercise in rigidity and futility. Some modifications are inevitable, and they do become second nature. You change your diet to benefit your health, for instance. But we are so much more than the sum of our various conditions and solutions! Give yourself permission to seek “sweet spot” solutions that are outside the cookie cutter approach. You might be surprised by the results!

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