The McDonald’s French Fry Effect

McDonald’s french fries are a wonderful combination of salty and sweet. Crisp and just a little bit soft as you chomp them down. This is what you might imagine as you pass by a McD or see someone snacking on a pack three at a time. In the past I have often succumbed to such a temptation and it seemed like such a good idea at the time. Yet afterward my fingers greasy with their slick, I’d feel unfulfilled and a little bit sick. If you eat enough you might feel like you can sweat their residue and a queasiness is not an uncommon outcome. Yet it seemed like such a good idea beforehand. What happened?

Sometimes on a weekend morning I wake up a bit lazy. I pop out my phone while in bed, or maybe flip open my laptop; Facebook is an easy place to start the day. I look to see who’s commented the night before, or shared something interesting on their timeline. I scroll through my feed and fall down rabbit holes to funny cartoons, pictures, and odd articles. Suddenly three hours has passed and I no longer feel lazy I simply feel sick. It seemed like such a good idea beforehand yet I knew even as I did it that I was succumbing to the McDonald’s French Fry Effect.

Whether it’s donuts or video games there are so many temptations in our life both physical and psychological that our brains can easily fall into through temptation that we yet know will not lead to a feeling of fulfillment on the other side. And that’s the thing I’m thinking about right now. I’m not talking about subscribing to some moral right. Simply being aware of what ‘truly’ fulfills you and what tempts you but displeases you in the end. Start upping your awareness and presence. When you’re about to embark on some activity consider your present state a little more honestly — Do you really need to watch TV or do you really need a nap? Or to talk with a friend? — Will that donut truly pick you up, or will something else do a better job of giving you the energy you need?

The other thing I do is try to consider how I’ll feel after consuming something. Is the experience during its consumption worth the feeling at the end? Strangely enough I find that many of these temptation activities don’t particularly feel good while I’m doing them either. They’re just habits I’ve formed and continue without thinking.

Finally look at how you can restructure your time or routines to take you away from tempting moments and toward fulfilling ones. Walk a different way home. Bring a more fulfilling snack. Cover your TV with a blanket. Make your guitar easier for you to pickup instead.

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