Blackberry Pie, a la Mayonnaise

November 01, 2005 | Fresh Start | Karl Haffner

Have you ever thought about the extraordinary power of attitude? Emerson once said, "A man is what he thinks about all day long." The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius said, "A man's life is what his thoughts make of it." William James put it this way: "The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes...." In the Bible we find this: "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." Therein is the power of the human mind.

Occasionally I’ve caught a glimpse of this power. For example, during my senior year in college just before job offers were made to theology majors, I reserved a weekend to visit my parents. While I wanted to see my family, I confess that my real motive was not so altruistic. It happened that the Oregon Conference president, Elder Beck, was scheduled to preach in my dad’s church that Sabbath. Since I needed a job, I wondered: “What could it hurt to conveniently position myself at the dinner table and hobnob with the man who holds the fate of my future in his hands?”

As the meal unfolded, it was just as I had schemed. The atmosphere was comfortable. Conversation flowed easily. Overtures of me getting a call to the Oregon Conference were made. The meal was perfect—until dessert.

That’s when Mom offered a choice of blackberry or blueberry pie. I opted for blackberry while Elder Beck chose blueberry. Now get this: my own mother thought it would be funny to substitute the whipped cream on my pie with mayonnaise. Since it looked similar, she figured it humorous to think of me squirming in front of the man that I wanted to impress.

The prank, however, backfired. I downed the dessert and never winced. Since I thought it was cream, it tasted like cream. After all, you don’t expect your own mother to dollop your dessert with mayonnaise. So I gulped without a grimace—much to the bitter disappointment of Mom.

Finally, Mom couldn’t stand it any longer. With everyone still at the table, she asked: “Didn’t you notice anything different about the whipped cream?”

“Huh?” I responded like a perfect ditz.

“Your whipped cream,” Mom continued. “We put mayonnaise on your pie instead of whipped cream.”

In a rare moment of spontaneity, I quipped, “Well, when you were bringing in the desserts from the kitchen, I decided I wanted blueberry instead of blackberry so I swapped with Elder Beck.”

You should have seen my mother’s face. You should have seen Elder Beck’s face. They looked liked Casper’s cousins. Unfortunately, I was only fibbing. The joke really was on me. Truth is, I ate a snowball of mayonnaise and never even noticed!

“Impossible!” you say. “How could that be?”

It’s simple. It all goes back to the power of attitude. What your mind tells you is what you believe—even if you are dead wrong. That’s why it is so critical to carefully guard your thinking. Believe me; I know what I’m tasting about.