We can create happiness and good memories more often if we make everyday a S’more kind of day.
What is it about that tasty trio of toasted gooey marshmallow and sweet melted chocolate sandwiched between two graham crackers that makes kids smile and allows adults to indulge? Girl Scout troops first recorded making these delicious fireside treats in 1925. The girls continuously asked for “some more” and so started the S’more tradition.
S’mores bring back happy memories of summer camp, beachside campfires and family camping trips. It’s a treat that’s synonymous with summer, camping, fellowship and fun. Build a campfire and you most certainly must have the three S’more ingredients available for all to enjoy.
But, what if you transferred this delicious snack to your own kitchen? It sort of looses its luster holding your marshmallow stick over the stovetop burner. In fact, my guess is that Mom would not allow such a thing. Suddenly, it isn’t fun anymore.
Perhaps it’s because with the making of S’mores over an outside fire, comes the story telling, the family time, the comradery with neighbors, the disappointment when the marshmallow falls into the fire and the giggling when the marshmallow oozes off the side of the graham cracker. It’s the total experience, including the treats to your nose with chocolate smell, your ears with fire crackling and your eyes with smoke.
Unfortunately, when people go indoors, they forget about the fireside experiences and all of the mindset that goes with it. They become more aware of self and less engaged with others. This goes well beyond the making of S’mores.
My husband and I travel in our R.V. a lot and I’ve noticed a phenomenon that I describe as “the camping mindset”. You have experienced it yourself if you have ever stayed at a campground or spent the night in the wild. The camping mindset is truly a wonderful thing. It can make stressed-out adults act like kids again, it makes every stranger a friend and it allows children to explore freely.
The camping mindset phenomenon begins when you set up camp and your neighbor asks if you need help. It continues when you see groups of children riding their bikes without adult supervision and perfect strangers strike up conversations that ultimately turn into the sharing of grilled food. Simple acts of kindness continue as the pace slows and people start paying attention to one another. People wave all the time. Kids invite other kids to play gaga ball with them. Air conditioners hum on the tops of campers, but everyone is outside. There are TVs, but most people aren’t looking at screens or distracted with technology. Kids run and play, pick up sticks and inspect insects. People sit and relax. They tell stories around the campfire. There is fishing and hiking. The swimming pool is popular and kids respect the lifeguards. There is very little crying or bickering or selfishness. There is instant social connection. It’s like a small town where everyone knows and looks out for one another. And yet, they are all strangers. They come together to enjoy the outdoors, take a respite from work and enjoy family and friends.
I witness this blissful mindset shift right about the time a family is packing to go home. Their thoughts go back to home and work and responsibilities. They morph themselves into a frantic gotta-go mode that throws all of the kindness and camaraderie out the window. They drive in slow, but they drive fast when they leave, not looking out for others in their path or caring about what may be in their wake. Their pace swings into high gear and frustration begins to mount. Once gone, the camping mindset is gone too.
We get home and the screens come on. The kids retreat to their rooms. The air conditioning hums throughout the house and the yard is silent. The neighborhood has no kids riding bikes. You hear no laughter from porches. Nobody is waving to each other.
Why has our society become one of retreating from one another instead of embracing one another? We have more conflict than camaraderie. We have more me than we.
However, what if that camping mindset carried over into every aspect of our life? What if there is a slower pace at home, with less screen time and more outdoor time? What if we told stories around the dining table just like we did around the campfire? What if we all waved to one another and sincerely talked to our neighbors? What if we struck up a conversation with a stranger regularly? That mindset of camaraderie around the campfire can be extended to the office, the coffee shop, the dining table and every facet of our lives.
How enjoyable would that be? It would be a life of curiosity and wonder. Stress would be minimized. Selfishness would be diminished. We would learn more and be open to new experiences and friendships. Families would bond daily, not just once or twice a year on vacation.
The sweetness of a S’more goes well beyond what we taste. It’s the memories of all the senses that make us smile. We can create happiness and good memories more often in our lives if we make everyday a S’more kind of day. If we make every day a camping mindset day we will be open to helping others, acknowledging our differences and enjoying life.
We create our own pace. We design our own mindset. And, when it’s positive, we influence others. We become leaders without even trying because others want what we have. Our camping mindset becomes our everyday mindset. We have peace and contentment all because sandwiching a gooey marshmallow and melted chocolate between two graham crackers brings us together and makes us smile.
Belinda Gates, ACC
Belinda's leadership development and executive coaching services support engineers, utilities, contractors and manufacturing companies as well as other corporate clients and non-profit organizations.