14 November 2023
I started making homemade yogurt. It’s not complicated: mix some starter, vanilla extract, and whole milk and cook it over low heat for eight hours. After letting it cool, add berries and granola, and you’ve got a healthy breakfast. It may sound trite, but this act of yogurt-making was quite profound for me.
A Better Breakfast
The idea of whole milk, quite frankly, makes me gag. I’ve never been a fan of milk, even as a kid, and I struggle to take it seriously. There’s this double-long, stainless-steel milk truck I often saw on the highway last winter, and the concept of milk sloshing around that huge thing amused me to no end. But I digress.
Let me illustrate just how dismal my prior breakfast was to underscore the gravity of my new morning ritual. I’d grab a paper towel (not a plate) and dole out a multivitamin, fish oil pill, granola bar, Greek yogurt, and banana. That was my breakfast for almost a decade, ever since I lived alone for the first time. I designed this “meal” for convenience—easy, fast calories immune to rushed morning commutes and resilient to changing environments, items I could source anywhere and store well.
It turns out that those requirements led to highly processed foods with high sugar, questionable nutritional value, and significant packaging waste. I believed I needed a daily system that could work under any circumstance and thought that if any situation messed it up, my system was worthless.
But now, as I sit down to my jar of yogurt, berries, and granola, I feel a sense of calm satisfaction. I feel gratitude in knowing I’ve started the day with a win on multiple fronts:
- Better Health. The meal is ingredient-based, containing far fewer preservatives and chemicals than processed food.
- Lower Cost. A half-gallon of milk and bulk granola is cheaper than store-bought yogurt and granola bars.
- Less Waste. I’m consuming fewer goods and generating less packaging waste.
- Improved Aesthetics. The glass jars of homemade yogurt are more visually appealing than the processed junk I’d set on a paper towel.
- More Enjoyment. I enjoy the mild empowerment inherent in the DIY ethos of the thing.
Why didn’t I do this sooner?
A Poisonous Pair
Thinking about my thousands of plastic yogurt containers floating around the Pacific Ocean makes me sad. I could have started making yogurt eight years ago, but I didn’t. My eight years of inaction were caused by a poisonous pair: ignorance and patience.
The first problem was ignorance, for I had never considered this. I was unaware that I could make my own yogurt. I was asleep to my present reality and didn’t even think to reconsider the most fundamental aspects of daily life. Until someone at work mentioned they make yogurt in an Instant Pot, I didn’t realize it was an option.
The second problem concerns me most: patience. After hearing about the idea almost six months ago, I didn’t act. The idea intrigued me, but not enough to perform a simple Google search. I wrote it off as a “cool idea for someday sometime.” I was “too busy,” and making yogurt was “too much hassle” when I could get it at the store. If I were to start “DIY stuff,” I’d wait until I had land and could garden, woodwork, and such as a package deal.
While ignorance kept me in the dark for longer, I let patience get the best of me.
Don’t get me wrong; patience can be a virtue in many activities, such as index-fund investing, career building, and relationship development. But some things could benefit from impatience. It’s an important distinction: A lack of patience is a problem, implying a deficit in something that requires it. But active impatience is positive, as irritation provokes us to make things happen.
Back to yogurt making. My patience with the status quo fostered stagnation. I tolerated my current reality and was complacent to change. The root of my patience was the belief that I needed a perfect system—a breakfast that could work in any situation. This perfectionism, even over something so silly, created stagnation.
As I sat down the other morning to eat this yogurt, I realized my backward way of thinking had prevented me from achieving many changes I wanted to introduce, both big and small. I never committed to a consistent sleep schedule because I couldn’t keep an early bedtime on weekends. I withheld from entering writing contests because I felt the timing wasn’t right. I didn’t replace the curtains in my rental house, even though they let a flickering streetlight flood my bedroom all night. Back in 2020, I figured I wouldn’t live here for long, yet three years later, here I was.
Patience is a virtue and a crutch—an excuse to remain passive and wait for the perfect timing. While the best time may have been eight years ago, the second-best time is today. The clock is ticking, and that sound should irritate us.
Time to replace those curtains.