My Cup of Tea

I’ve started a morning ritual of drinking tea at the kitchen table before everyone wakes up. In the stillness and quiet, before this busy day of thanks begins, I look out toward the mountains and watch as the first light of dawn appears. I sit with my cup of tea and think of the day ahead.

If I am being quite honest, two things are on my mind:

1. My tea is way too hot and burned my tongue. This is making me concerned that my too-hot cup of tea will affect the flavor of the pumpkin pie I plan on eating in a few hours.

2. Gathering with family can be hard, even though these are the people I love most in the world.

Thanksgiving is a day when we are prone to spending more time evaluating and less time experiencing. We might watch in horror as someone ruins everything on their plate by pouring gravy all over everything we’ve worked so hard to prepare. Or perhaps we are attempting to watch the football game and someone keeps turning the TV volume higher and higher until our ears feel like they are going to explode. Or we are clenching our jaws while listening to someone laugh as they tell the same story they’ve told every single year. “This is not my cup of tea,” we think, stewing in negativity and sitting with our own superior thoughts and preferences. 

It was in the 1800s that the British began using the phrase “my cup of tea” to reference something enjoyable or a favored friend. Later, the word “not” was added and the phrase was used to indicate the opposite – an indirect way of saying, “Yuck, I don’t like it.”

The negative form, “not my cup of tea,” is the more widely known of the two idioms. It isn’t surprising that this is the version we use most. Fault-finding software is pre-loaded in our brains and we often look toward others with a critical eye. We compare our preferences and partialities to theirs and quickly decide our way is best. The other way is not simply different, but wrong. Our minds are kept busy judging the people and behaviors around us and mentally improving them.

So on a day when it is extra tempting to spotlight others’ quirks and amplify our annoyances, my morning wish for you and me is to bring an extra-large portion of acceptance with us to the table. I’m going to try thinking to myself, “It is their cup of tea. I’m happy they are happy,” and let it go.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families.

And cheers from my cup of tea to yours.

Author: Alyssa Forcehimes, PhD

An expert in behavior change, substance use disorders and empathic communication, Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes serves as President of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® She lives in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.