The Big Piece of Chocolate by Dr. David Fox


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I just finished reading Comfort, Healing, and Joy by Dr. David Fox and enjoyed it immensely. Each chapter describes another simple tool we can use to infuse our lives with more happiness. Here’s a selection from one of my favorite chapters…

Do you like candy? Perhaps you enjoy chocolate, or maybe you prefer some other kind of special treat. It doesn’t really matter what your choice is, just pick something you love to eat.

Now suppose I am your best friend and just happen to have some of this delectable creation in my hand, and I break it in two for us – you and me – to share. Oops! One piece is bigger than the other. Now I’ve got both pieces in my outstretched hand, waiting for you to take one of them. Which one will you choose – the Little Piece or the Big Piece?

Each and every day you make the fundamental decision, sometimes dozens of times in a single day: Do you take the Little Piece or the Big Piece? Which one do you really want? Allow me to explain.

The Little Piece signifies all those things in life that your conscience tells you that you should do. It symbolizes responsibilities. And believe me, if your life is anything like mine, you’ve got plenty of them! You go to work, take out the trash, care for others who rely on you, visit a sick friend, attend a funeral – the list goes on and on.

On the other side of my hand is the Big Piece. It represents those things that you really want to have, be, and do. It embodies freedom. This is where you have the most fun, indulge, relax, blow off steam, and otherwise enjoy yourself. When you go for a leisurely walk, take in a movie, get a bite to eat with friends…or generally unwind after a long day, you are taking the Big Piece. The list of possibilities is limitless, and fortunately most of our decisions about which piece to choose – the Big Piece or the Little Piece – do not, individually, entail major risk to our well-being.

Do you sleep late or get up early to exercise?

Do you order the fresh fruit or the French fries?

Do you take the last serving of ice cream or leave it for someone else?

Going back to my original question, which piece would you take?

I suspect if you’re like most people and a friend gave you this choice, you’d probably pick the Little Piece, right? Many factors could play into your decision, both obvious and not-so-obvious ones, and chances are you won’t spend too much time analyzing such a trivial choice. Maybe you’ll take the Little Piece because you don’t want your friend to think you’re selfish, or perhaps taking the Big Piece would cause you to feel guilty. It could be that it just makes you feel good to give up the Big Piece, since doing so exemplifies restraint, or simply because you’re on a diet!

On the contrary, just maybe you’ll take the Big Piece because you took the Little Piece the last several times you had to choose with this friend, and you now feel that it’s “my turn to get what I want.” Or your friend is on a diet, and you want to do them a favor by sparing them the extra calories contained in the Big Piece.

Whichever decision you make at any given time doesn’t necessarily matter much in the grand scheme of your life. The point is that these decisions represent your values, and in choosing your values you have some important say over how you feel in the long run. If you recognize that you are taking the Little Piece, you can either feel good about it or you can feel frustrated instead because you really wanted the Big Piece.

People get into trouble when they don’t have balance in their lives between the choosing of the Little Piece or the Big Piece.

If you nearly always seem to take the Little Piece, your life will be filled with work and sacrifice and you may feel like a martyr. Your life is all work and no play. Have you had any fun, that is, have you taken the Big Piece lately?

If, however, like a child, you nearly always take the Big Piece, and your life is all about, “Me, me, me”– how are you likely to feel? Guilty! And feeling guilty about excessively taking the Big Piece doesn’t exactly lend itself to enjoyment.

The trick is to have balance. Don’t strive for fifty-fifty division between the two choices in order to achieve perfect alternation between them, but rather strive for some irregular mixture that over time allows you to fulfill your responsibilities and gives you permission to have fun! When you have the right mix for you, you will optimize your ability to pat yourself on the back for choosing the Little Piece and feeling entitled to indulge in taking the Big Piece. A healthy dose of both choices is vital for emotional and spiritual well-being.

The decision between the Little Piece and Big Piece does not necessarily have to be an either/or decision; in special situations it can be both. True magic occurs when the Little and Big Pieces converge; when we find joy in our work, when we feel wonderful about our sacrifices for others, and especially when we can’t distinguish between the two choices because they are one and the same. These precious times when we find no distinction between the two pieces constitute a sacred gift to cherish as long as it lasts…

When the choice isn’t clear and much is at stake, what should you do? The best action to take is to wait. Hope-filled waiting combined with a readiness to receive an answer sends an invitation to a brilliant part of you deep down that knows instinctively what to do. Wait for your inner wisdom, your intuition, to guide you in the right direction. Be prepared to receive this message by opening yourself up to listening for the gentle whisper of the wise inner voice that signals the right course of action, a voice that speaks to you when you least expect it, day or night…

See your choices with clear eyes and make your choices with a clear conscience.

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One comment

  1. Well Said, and so appropriate for this get everything in a click – generation!

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