contentment

September 18, 2018

This is my fourth time living in San Miguel. Each trip I learn more about the town, explore more nooks and crannies, and get better acquainted with the city. On the first three visits here, I had not found a good bakery. And by “good,” I mean one that offers yummy European-style pastries. I guess I didn’t necessarily expect to, but, San Miguel is quite the international town, so it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility.

I admit I have a chocolate croissant addiction. Flakey, buttery dough and rich chocolate is pretty hard for me to resist. But I figured it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing for me to give up this habit. So, I decided to see it as a chance to reduce my sugar intake. You can imagine my surprise and subsequent delight then, when I discovered an Italian bakery in August. The owner is from Italy and had exactly the kinds of pastries I’d been secretly hoping to find. And then, wouldn’t you know it, in the following weeks I discovered three more places that also had European-style pastries. So now, it seems, it will be very hard to give up my pastry habit.

But the thing is, while finding the first bakery was fun and an unexpected discovery, finding the next three only served to launch me into comparison mode. Like, which bakery has the “best” flaky croissant. So of course I had to test them all. And then I said to a friend one evening, you know, I really don’t need 4 places to buy a croissant. In fact, I had been pretty content even when I didn’t know of a single place to find one. And it just reminded me that the more options you have, the greater the likelihood that your contentment levels will decline. Of course, there are official psychological studies that back this fact up (greater choice often leads to lower levels of happiness). But my simple pastry search taught me this quite easily.

Although I enjoy many things about the cosmopolitan feel of San Miguel, one thing I greatly admire about Mexican culture is that, as a whole. it tends to model contentment to a greater degree than the U.S. There isn’t the same quest for “more” that permeates American culture. And I like this. So, despite the fact that more choice is opening up to me the more I get to discover and know San Miguel, I hope I can retain a bit of the “less is more” benefit I enjoyed on my first visit. I’m not interested in multiple bakeries on every corner, each declaring why they are the best choice. I’d be happy without any. Well, ok….maybe just one.

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