Why we do what we do.

  • Osberg Health
  • No Comments

“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

Carl Sagan, Cosmos

Why do we do what we do?  

From when we are born, until we die, we are guided by the lessons learned from our ancestors.  Most everything from birth to death has been thought about by parents and other humans  all trying to figure out the “best” way to do things. Not to put too fine a point on this, but we do an exorbitant number of things.  The people who raised us, the community, and geographic region where we were raised became our normal.  It has greatly determined what we eat, how we eat, how we dress, how we bathe, how we work, what we consider work, how we think about and bond with family members.   At that moment in time we were born our perception normal and our incredibly unique journey began.    

Our normal are the events that happen at least 80% of the time.  The behaviour and social norms of our immediate family, community, and geographic region we observe most of the time, is what our brains learn to expect from the world. This communal knowledge helps us interact within our social group, one of our most basic of human needs, and it is also where we generate our rules.  We as humans are very rule driven, they help us find security in a chaotic world, they also limit us when they are not based in necessity.  We need to learn to apply as much critical thinking to our rules, as we do judgement to people not following them.  The following is a story that I have seen many versions of,  it is a modern parable which shares great, small wisdoms.

One day after school a young girl noticed that her mom was cutting off the ends of a pot roast before putting it in the oven to cook for dinner. She had seen her mom do this many times before but had never asked her why. So this time she asked and her mom replied, I don’t know why I cut the ends off, but it’s what my mom always did. Why don’t you ask your Grandma? The mom may have said this because she didn’t think she had the time to think about it. Which is always a mistake. We always have time to think. We just think we don’t.

So the young girl called her grandmother on the phone and said, Grandma why do you cut the ends off the pot roast before cooking it? Her grandmother replied, I don’t know. That’s just the way my mom always cooked it. Why don’t you ask her? . So, undeterred, the girl called her great grandmother, who was living in a nursing home and asked her the same question – why did you cut the ends off the pot roast before cooking it? …And her great grandmother did not reply “I cut off the ends of the pot roast because that’s what my mother did.”

And she did not say because it makes the meat juicier. She said, when I was first married we had a very small oven, and the pot roast didn’t fit in the oven unless I cut the ends off.”


I love exploring the journeys that happen between the beginning of the universe and the ends of pot roast.  We can begin to take a lot of pressure off of ourselves if we decide to make our choices consciously, it takes some effort in the beginning, the payoff is a life lived authentically.   

It is not even necessarily changing what you are doing, just why you are doing it.  When next we do anything, try to drill down every reason behind the action. Having a drink? Why did you pick that drink? When were you introduced to this beverage? What memories do you have drinking this beverage?  Are you thirsty? Why are you thirsty?  You can see how this can lead you down a bit of a rabbit hole, but that is how we find those pot roast ends.  So if you are drinking something because you are thirsty, it is your favorite, and brings feelings of satisfaction *cheers.*  If not, perhaps you have some pot roast ends to find.  

Have fun out there!

Author: Osberg Health