My mother taught me how to cook. Till date, I prepare my Efo Riro with Ugu and not Efo, because that’s how my mum cooked it. My stew is irrepressibly peppery because that’s how I learnt how to make it. Another thing I picked up from my mum, is a love for Maggi – the bouillon cube.

When I was growing up, cooking meant my fingers reeked of Maggi and onions for days, after dishes were prepared. I kind of just accepted it and even googled ways to counter the smell e.g using baking soda and toothpaste. Then one day, I observed my sister cooking. She used Maggi, but in powder form. It hit me. Maggi is not just a cube. It’s a powder (and as I recalled from childhood, even a liquid too). I could scoop it with a spoon instead of grinding it by hand. So why on earth was I still using cubes?! Habit.

My cooking habits were so ingrained that it didn’t occur to me to find another way; an easier way; a better way. Isn’t that like life?

Sometimes, our backgrounds condition us, and so we fail to consider options or different perspectives. This limits our growth and subjects us to unnecessary suffering. That’s why we must continually open our lives to new thoughts, new information and new friends. If I hadn’t observed my sister cooking, I wouldn’t have realised that I could change my cooking methods.

The thing is, we all need catalysts that provoke us to change. It’s one thing to have access to knowledge; it’s another thing to know that we need (or should refer to) the knowledge.

This year, if you do nothing else, read new books – genres you wouldn’t ordinarily read. If you usually read romance, try science. If you read business books or biographies, try poetry. Also make new friends. Invite someone out for drinks that you don’t know well. There are plenty in church, school and on social media. Don’t be shy. Just say, “I’d like to take you out for drinks this week. What day and time are convenient for you?”

Do these things and your life will be filled with new ideas. You will also experience many beautiful things.

This year, read new books – genres you wouldn't ordinarily read. Click To Tweet