How do you eat apples? Like many people, you probably eat around the sides, leaving that iconic core. That’s not how my friend eats apples. You’d see her with a whole apple and she’d bite into it in a way that looks kind of off. Look back in a few minutes and you’d see the apple gone; no core, nothing.
“What about the seeds?” I asked. “You don’t have to eat them if you don’t want to,” she replied. I passed it off as a weird way that she eats apples, but a couple of years later, I stumbled upon the method again on the Internet. I don’t know how I got there, but there it was. I was never really into eating whole apples when I was younger; my dad would always complain that I left too much on the core whenever I ate one, so I just stopped eating whole apples. I learned to eat apples the way my friend did after that, and now I’m more than happy to pick up a whole apple and eat it. I can’t go back to eating around the core anymore.
There’s a lesson to be learned in everything we do. What can we learn from eating apples?
Let’s suppose that leaving a core is a problem. You want to eat as much of the apple as you can and you want to minimize the amount of waste you generate, but you leave up to 30% of the apple uneaten in the core and you have to throw it away somewhere. For simplicity, let’s have the core represent the problem.
Let’s start with where we take the first bite. In the “traditional” way, the first bite is taken from the side. In the “radical” way, the bite is taken from the bottom. In the traditional way, you leave a core. In the radical way, you don’t leave a core. This brings us to our first lesson: sometimes you have to attack problems from a different angle to solve them. To not leave a core, you should start from the bottom instead of the side.
Now, why does starting from the bottom not leave a core? To answer that, I’ll first ask a related question: why does starting from the side leave a core? From experience, I can say that starting from the side leaves a core because the core is tough and difficult to eat. The core is the same no matter where you start from, though, so how is it that starting from the bottom can leave no core? Because you’re eating from the bottom, each bite contains a small bit of the core. As you eat, you eat through a bit of the core at a time and you hardly even notice it. In contrast, if you eat around the core, you leave the tough core for last. It is much more unpleasant to have to eat the core at once than eating it a bit at a time. Here’s the second lesson: break problems down into small parts to make them easier to manage. If you leave the hard part for last, you’re not going to want to do it, especially if it’s easier to just ignore it.
If you eat your apple this way, not only do you eat as much of the apple as possible and significantly reduce the amount of waste you leave, the apple rewards you. Have you ever cut an apple on its equator? You’re greeted with a star. The apple calls you a star for not wasting its flesh. This is the third lesson: solving problems is rewarding. Even if nobody else gives you any kind of reward, solving the problem is in itself rewarding, and you’ll find that it probably has other hidden benefits as well.
Even from something simple as eating an apple, you can learn lessons from it. But it’s not enough to just learn the lessons: you have to act on and apply them, too. How do you act on these lessons? Firstly, you can start eating your apples from the bottom; this is a direct application of this post. In addition, you should apply the three lessons to the problems you encounter: try another angle if one doesn’t work, break the problem down into small parts, and let the reward motivate you. So have an apple while you work, and as you eat it, think about these three lessons and how you can use them to help solve the problem you’re working on.