Beer Tub As A Metaphor For Life

For the longest time when I was younger, I tried to be like (and “liked by”) the “guy-guys”. I wanted to be accepted and felt like they were the “cool kids” of adulthood. I quickly discovered that they drank a lot, and were more interested in talking their gym routine and ESPN than they were in talking about life. And they certainly weren’t interested in me.

I couldn’t figure out why I always felt alone when I was with the guy-guys. It only occurred to me later that I WAS alone, they didn’t want to connect with anyone. I tried to fit in, which felt awkward and was incredibly unfulfilling. But I saw that if I continued to hang out with them, it was likely I was going to end up like them. I was experiencing environmental conduction.

The easiest way to understand conduction (and its powerful role as a metaphor for our lives) is to talk about beer. Yes, beer. Imagine it’s summertime. Envision the classic barbecue. It’s a sweltering Friday afternoon, and all your friends are coming over. You’re hosting a shindig. You have all the trappings of a successful barbecue.

There are a few critical items that every barbecue needs. Just as important as the grill, the burgers, and the hotdogs are, there’s always the metal tub full of ice cold beer. The tub of beer is a central bonding spot, like a homing beacon for a good time. The tub is often close to the grill, usually on the patio.

The beer is arctic-cold. But it wasn’t always this cold. The beer was warm when it came from the store, and you, as a thoughtful host, put ice into the tub before you added the beer. If you did this 30 minutes or more before the party, by the time the guests arrived to dive a hand in for a cold one, the beer will be ice cold.

What made your beer cold was the process of conduction. Conduction is the movement of heat from the surface of a warm object to the surface of a colder object that it’s in contact with. In this case, the heat of the beer is transferred to the ice, which in turn melts until the beer reaches the temperature of the ice and water around it.

If we’re thinking about the beer and ice in a tub as an environment, it’s a wonderful metaphor for life. We are like the warm, room temperature beer. Sounds like a bummer, huh? Every environment that we put ourselves in is going to have an impact on our “temperature”. However, the difference between the beer and us is that we have the choice of what environment we put ourselves into.

If you find yourself surrounded by people with different agendas or mindsets than you, that’s a “colder” environment. Stay there long enough, and you too will become cold. Do you have that friend who’s a complainer? Always complains about his boss, job, and co-workers? How about a spouse, partner or workout buddy who loves to gossip, create drama or chaos? And then there are the friends who see the glass as half empty, something’s always wrong.

It is likely over time (if you spend time with these people) that you will participate in the gossip or find yourself complaining. And it has an impact. However, the inverse is also true. If you hang out with people who either come from a place of service or work actively to excel at their role, you will be impacted by that environment as well.

We get to choose the environment we expose ourselves to. We could choose to spend time either by ourselves or find new co-workers to spend time with. We can choose another career, or we can actively pursue personal growth avenues via other sources. We can struggle in a relationship or actively work to better it.

That’s the best part about environments, we can get them other than our physical environment. We can read articles, listen to podcasts, connect with people on the phone, and use social media to connect with like-minded people. This can also be physically by attending meetups, participating in activities with other people or finding that new co-worker whose mindset matches the one you’re trying to emulate.

The same is true at home. If your favorite pastime with your spouse and friends is to sit around and watch movies on Netflix and eat ice cream when you get home from work, it’s likely that environment has an impact on your health. If you want to do something different, if you want to change your lifestyle and become more active, athletic and lose weight, you’ll need to change your environment.

Spending time in the gym with people who are working out and working to achieve their goals would serve you better. The number of treadmills that end up as coat racks is an extraordinary percentage. And it has everything to do with the environment. The treadmill in your bedroom at home is no different than the treadmill at the gym. But your bedroom isn’t an environment full of people and other equipment all designed to get in better shape. You are far more likely to work out in a gym on the same treadmill surrounded by people working out, then you are working out on a treadmill at home by yourself.

Separate and alone is often the way we try and create new results. We tell ourselves that the people around us don’t understand, and worst don’t care. But often that’s where we stop, not looking to see where else we could surround ourselves with an environment that supports the new results we’re creating.

Whatever environment you choose, be aware of the impact of the environment around you. Does it meet your goals? Are you the beer or are you the ice? And does the environment that you’re in support the results you’re looking to create? If it doesn’t, find a new environment. Because no one likes warm beer.

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