My wife and I gave an excellent pepper mill as a wedding gift to a sweet young couple today. Shanna asked me to write a short note to accompany the gift, so I came up with this:

“In marriage, as in cooking, it takes only a little more effort to add a lot more flavor.”

I thought it was a clever message. But, it rings true to me, not just for marriage and cooking, but as a general guide to being awesome.

A pepper mill is a small example, but freshly ground pepper, requiring very little extra effort, is so much more flavorful than the dull pre-ground pepper most people use.

Over the Christmas holiday last year a family member was showing off their new coffee-making contraption, one of those devices that promises to make coffee fast and with little fuss or effort on the user’s part. I’m a tea guy, so I was handed a cup of hot tea produced by this device. It was bad. Quick, easy, and bad.

I remarked at the time to my wife, as I discreetly disposed of this so-called tea, “I will stick with my fussy way* of making tea, thank you.” The extra few minutes required to boil water and brew loose leaf tea is rewarded with a truly excellent cup of tea that more than makes up for the time and effort invested. And the making of the tea and being mindful of the steps involved can be just as much a pleasure as drinking it.

Convenient, quick, and easy often are just shortcuts to mediocre and forgettable. Efficient does not necessarily mean effective. A small bit of effort and creativity can go a long way toward delighting someone, including yourself.

What little extra bit of thoughtfulness, effort, and attention to detail can I offer to delight my wife, my kids, my colleagues, and those I serve in my work?

*My tea cup and infuser. And if you’re looking for a tea, try Irish Breakfast Tea.