There are many "chores" in life that are dreaded tasks; things we are conditioned to believe are unpleasant, painful, and undeserving of our full attention. Things like doing the dishes, going through a sea of unread e-mails, getting an oil change, driving in traffic, grocery shopping...and the list goes on and on. But, as beauty is in the eye of the beholder so too can chores be granted the gift of inspiring joy and peace.
How wonderful does it feel when you go through your closet and get rid of a big pile of clothes that you no longer can, or want, to wear? Ridding yourself of excess baggage frees your mind and sends a wave of relief through your body just knowing there is one less task on your to-do list. Approaching dreaded tasks with a similar mindset I would argue brings an even deeper sense of accomplishment and tranquility.
Now, I'm not going to sit here and say I LOVE sitting in standstill traffic in a smoggy city, dressed in uncomfortable work clothes, with nothing on the radio but the same political discourse I've been hearing all year, knowing full-well there isn't anything good to eat at home for dinner, wondering if the dog pooped inside the house again, remembering I need to do your laundry to have clean clothes for tomorrow, and wait does my car always make that sound, wondering if there is even enough time to make it to my yoga class...and you can see how it all snowballs. The predetermined negativity of sitting through traffic starts to sink in and tells my body how uncomfortable I am. Then I am stuck and just dwelling on why this situation is bad, and blah blah blah it's ruining my evening, and it'll be time to go to bed soon might as well just watch t.v. and fall asleep.
Just try taking any one of your most hated tasks and search for a way to make it meaningful. Even if the task itself isn't beautiful, the outcome of doing it always is. I am not a religious person, but doing the dishes can be spiritual for me if I come at it with the right mind. Realize how freeing it can be to do the things you "have" to do, and understand you are happier after they are done. Once you connect the dots in your mind that these chores lead to happiness, the tasks themselves can start to be something enjoyable in their own way. Getting the vacuum out and ridding the house of dog hair is enlightening. Hell, scrubbing the floorboards and mopping the house puts me on top of the world.
Now, the part I still have to work on is letting them get dirty again. I get so much peace and joy from cleaning, or doing laundry, or doing dishes, that once they are clean and in their place (ahhhhh), I postpone actually using any of it so as to not disturb the peace. I realize I am a peace-keeper by nature, and all the zen I get from putting things in their place, I struggle to allow them to ever leave. I am working on trying to see the messes, the dirty clothes, the piled up dishes, and the hours of driving in traffic as another opportunity to find my zen again...but it's not always so easy.
But, if you ever get a chance to host a party or a dinner or a get-together - do it! And once everybody has gone, and you're tired and want to go to sleep and pretend there isn't a plethora of tidying that needs to be done - I dare you to go in the kitchen and, at your own pace and in your own way, do the dishes. Put on your favorite record you've been listening to (a Roofus & Friends release no doubt), turn down the lights a bit, and get in the zone. Smile a little bit as you scrub off crusty guacamole from plates, and rinse stale beer foam from the glasses. And the real kicker comes later...walking into the kitchen the morning after you can practically hear the angels singing "hallelujah!"
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!