I’ve wanted to write about this topic since 2015.
Yep. Four years.
I have this folder of letter ideas that I add to whenever a random thought pops into my head. Most of my ideas get fleshed out and end up being sent to you. But a few, including this one, kind of languish in there. Stuck like those last few tic-tacs in the bottom of the container.
(Maybe that metaphor should have stayed in the folder too ?).
There’s some weird stuff in there. One is just a sentence that reads “Black swans and status quo.”
(FYI, I will write more about the black swan effect. It’s actually very interesting and I reckon you’d like it. Maybe later!).
So, what is this elusive topic I’m finally dishing on?
If you’re expecting scandal, y’know, something I’ve “never been brave enough to share”, well, um, you’d be wrong.
It’s nothing of the sort.
But it’s no less interesting.
I’m talking about umami.
Yes. The fifth flavour.
Unlike sweet, salty, sour and bitter – the flavours we’ve been kicking around with for millennia – umami was only really discovered and named in the 20th century.
Umami is hard to describe. One of those “you know it when you see it”, or in this case “taste” it, kind of deals.
It’s a savoury taste, satisfying in a brothy, rich kind of way.
To get scientific on you, food rich in umami flavour contains high levels of glutamic acid.
(Fun fact – glutamic acid can become glutamate, the G in MSG! Which explains why those cheapo MSG-laden two-minute noodles are so addictive and tasty).
Umami is sumptuous, gratifying deliciousness.
And it had always been there.
But giving umami a name legitimised it.
Because once you have a word to frame a phenomena – you can perceive it. It becomes real.
And that’s where this becomes something of interest to you and me and everyone else in this little letter gang.
See, I believe that the words we use influence our whole perception of the world.
Think about this.
What if, when someone asked you how your weekend was, instead of just saying “Oh yeah, it was alright” you said “MARVELLOUS” or “EXTRAORDINARY!”. Maybe you even SHOUT IT. Do you think that would change how you felt about your weekend?
I bet it would.
Note: I’m not asking you to bullsh*t your way through life.
Like if you just broke up with your partner and your cat died, you’d probably be lying if you replied “MARVELLOUS!” when describing your weekend.
However, I am asking you to turn off your autopilot and to start to use new words to describe your experiences.
Because the more words we have to describe our experiences – the more colourful and alive we make them.
So, in my head, it’s simple:
If you want to feel a certain way, use the words associated with that feeling.
Try it today.
When someone asks how you are, stop yourself from giving your usual answer. Switch it up.
Answer with the words that describe how you want to feel.
And let me know how it goes for you.