Are you topping-off your life?

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Simple question—are the rules you live by irrelevant to the way you want to live your life?

Yesterday, while driving the family out to my mother-in-law’s house for Thanksgiving, I stopped to fill up the tank with gas. I provided my credit card to the attendant and he promptly clicked the auto-flow button on the nozzle and let the pump do its thing. A few minutes later, the nozzle clicked to a stop, signaling the tank was full. That should have been the end of this story…but it wasn’t.

The attendant then walked over, took the nozzle in his hand and topped off the tank until the cents rounded up to the nearest dollar. Okay, that happens to all of us. The question is why? And, why do we accept it?

Scam-time at the gas-n-go.

The practice of topping the tank came from the good old days when gas stations didn’t take credit cards. The attendants didn’t want to have to spend a lot of time carrying around a big old pocket full of change or counting out coins. So, they’d routinely top of the tank, rounding up to the nearest dollar or, at least, quarter, in order to make their jobs faster and easier.

Then, along come credit cards. No change needed. No calculus or algebra. Just swipe, sign and go. By all rights, the act of topping-off should’ve gone away. But it hasn’t.

Why? Because the practice has been around for so long that nobody remembered why it began, we just assumed that was the way it was supposed to happen. Plus, as long as nobody was complaining, it became a sneaky little bonus for the station-owners, who could keep getting the extra change on every tank.

Are your rules still relevant?

So, my question for you as we slide into this weekend is this…are the rules that govern your life, your behavior, your choices and actions really yours? Are they really relevant to the way you want to live your life and the outcomes you want to create?

Or, are you allowing some decades old vestigial-wisdom and practices whose origins you don’t know and whose original-intent has long-since left the building to control the way you live your life and earn your living?

Put another way, are you topping-off your life?

Please share your thoughts, ideas and insights in the comment section below.

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6 responses

6 responses to “Are you topping-off your life?”

  1. Gregor says:

    It reminds me of the story about the monks and the cat.
    An errant cat once came to a monastry. The monks were kind with animals and they feeded the cat so the cat stayed … but it was disturbing them while they were meditating. So the master ordered to tie the cat at the time of meditation. It became a routine after few months and years and afther the cat died, the monastry got an other cat and tied it to and then also the old monks died and so the life went on through decades and centuries …
    A few hudred years later, some scholars wrote large discussions about the importance of the presence a tied cat during the meditation time …

  2. Jonathan Fields says:

    Gregor – great story, same principle. Now, the interesting challenge is to take a look at how we spend each day and see how often we do things just because “that’s how it’s always been done.”

    Then, it gets really interesting when we turn this same question loose at work…yikers!

  3. Gail says:

    This is why 8 years ago I quit my job! Didn’t know what I was going to do (besides be a mom, which is a great job and wouldn’t want to trade that role for anything), and those who know me, knew that I was not the kind to do carpool and go out to lunch and shop to fill my extra time! So yoga found me and boy, owning a yoga studio is never a dull moment, every day a different experience, and always an opportunity to do change things up! Thanks for your insight on the gas, I do that all the time, and it so unconscious! Love and light!

  4. viola says:

    Very nicely put !! Of course, we are all ‘conditioned’ by society and we all have the daily ‘battles’ trying our best not to be dominated by ‘patterns’… makes me think about the saying “if we always do what we always done, we will always got what we always gotten” … every day brings a different experience and with awareness we could just be ourselves.

    Thanks you.

  5. Duncan says:

    You miss the point. When we find gas cheap, we want to get as much as we can. Next time we buy gas, the price has gone up, and we kick ourselves for not buying more. Myself, I carry extra cans and fill them up too.

  6. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Gail – yeah, sometimes answering the old “why exactly am I doing this” question leads to a lot more than we expected!

    @ Viola – totally agree, one of the biggest challenges is to try to consistently turn of auto-pilot mode and be present in what we do.