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The Best Of Both Worlds — Most Things Aren’t Mutually Exclusive

Growing up in Cologne, Germany, I had always faced a big dilemma. More beer or smaller bottles?

Dominik Nitsch
3 min read
The Best Of Both Worlds — Most Things Aren’t Mutually Exclusive
Smaller bottles = fresher beer. Source.

Growing up in Cologne, Germany, I had always faced a big dilemma.

When buying beer, do you buy a 20 * 0.5 l crate, or a 24 * 0.33 l crate?

Bigger bottles = more beer. Source.

The price for both crates is the same, around 15 € plus deposit. I tend to prefer smaller bottles, because the beer is fresher and doesn’t get stale.

But when you run the numbers, you only get 8 l of beer (24 * 0.33) when you buy the crate with the smaller bottles. The larger crate, on the other hand, contains 10 l of beer (20 * 0.5). And they’re the same price.

What do you do? Pick the smaller bottles, or get the larger amount of beer?

This dilemma has haunted me all my life, and continued to haunt me until I went to the city of Hannover. There, I discovered this:

The answer to my prayers. Source.

My prayers had been answered. A crate with 30 bottles of 0.33 l each! 10 liters, in 0.33 l bottles!

I was a happy man. And the best thing was: it’s even cheaper than the ordinary crates (excluding deposit, since more bottles = more deposit).

Now, I’m still some time facing this dilemma, but I know that the solution is out there.

What does this beer crate dilemma teach us about life?

Decide between two options? You can have both.

“When you see a fork in the road, take it.”

— Yogi Berra

We consider many things in life to be mutually exclusive.

  • I want to be athletic and fit, but I also want to party hard twice a week.
  • I want to live at the beach, but also in a city.
  • I want to have work-life balance, but also want to have a steep career.
  • I want 0,33 l bottles, but also 10 l in a crate.
  • I want to have a romantic partner, but I also want to have several partners.
  • I want …

You get the idea. Many things that seem mutually exclusive don’t necessarily have to be.

  • You can be both athletic and fit and party hard twice a week. Just exercise well, eat well, sleep well when you’re not partying and your body will forgive you.
  • Pick either a city that’s at the beach (Rio de Janeiro comes to mind), or simply start commuting between the two. With enough money, anything is possible. You could live in Frankfurt during the week and spend your weekends on a Spanish island. Just ask my landlords.
  • You don’t necessarily need to work long hours in order to have a great career. Just don’t go into consulting (unless you’re prone to using the acronym MECE, then that’s probably for you). Several studies have shown that working long hours is bad for you. You can actually advance by working less. Just find the right employer for you, or create your own business.
  • Maybe a polyamorous relationship is right for you. With the right partner, anything is possible. Although that wouldn’t be something for me.
  • As stated above, you can actually have a 10 l crate with 0.33 l bottles. ❤

Of course, there are scenarios that are indeed mutually exclusive. You can’t have kids while having no kids. You can’t sleep while working out. You can’t be in Kyiv and be in Tallinn at the same time.

But many things are possible.

Whenever you come to the conclusion that you can only have one thing, but not the other, think again. Is that just a bias, or is it actually mutually exclusive? Chances are you will find a workaround that make both things possible. You might just not be aware of it.

If you are currently facing a dilemma, or would like to initiate a philosophical discussion about a hypothetical dilemma, I’d be happy to talk about it. Just send me an email at hello[at]dominiknitsch[dot]com.

I also have a newsletter, in which I write short takeaways for every book that I read, and share all my posts. Simply subscribe to my newsletter here.

Note: Actually, now that I earn money, I just buy the 24 * 0.33 l crates. The price difference just isn’t that huge. ;)

Note 2: In an article with “mutually exclusive” in the title, I couldn’t help but use “MECE” (which stands for “mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive”).

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