Over the summer, I was criticized by my spouse for leaving the gardening hose a tangled hot mess in the garden bed (yes, I guess I am that person). It turned into a huge moment of reflection...
What was my problem with the coiling the hose? Why couldn't I calmly recoil and leave it in it's proper place? The thought of doing such a thing seemed so meaningless, especially with everything happening in the world. Who even cares?
As I became aware of the fact that the problem was not the hose, I recognized that I may have some work to do on my mindfulness practice. In this moment I saw in myself what I am perpetually speaking to clients about: how being mindful of the moment and/or process, brings joy, fulfillment and the gift of presence. So, I decided to try to make this activity that I loathed, something that I really loved.
This reminded me of a time an article I read a few years ago about a man who convinced himself that he loved the food that he hated. By trying the same thing over and over, he told his tastebuds to change. This, is not exactly that, but isn't much different either. One of my favorite for people questions is "What is an activity that most people hate, that you either enjoy or don't mind?" The answers I have received are generally related to chores and housekeeping: dishes, laundry, mopping...MOPPING! The answers are a testament to what people feel brings them a moment of mindful activity and a break from other parts of their day.
The question about the kind of chores and activities you really dislike is this one: If you were forced to do this activity in a thoughtful way, almost meditating on the act of doing it, would you hate it less? Part of the pain of the dishes is that, while doing them you may also be coming up with a laundry list of the million things that you need to do. What if you painstakingly, Marie Kondo style, cleaned each dish with thought and intention? This seems like a silly suggestion, I know. I also know, that it's an easy trick to get you through some of the most annoying, monotonous parts of your day.
Last summer, I decided I would change my putting-away-the-hose habits. I focused on intentionally moving it back to it's place and coiling it into a neat pile. I found it to be a completely different activity when I actually considered what I was doing. I can say this of my experiment: it's not perfect, I still don't consider putting the hose away an activity I would choose over getting a scoop of chocolate Ice Cream from the Charmery. But I can also say this: it's put away neatly (happier spouse) and I'm feeling much more content (and shockingly fulfilled....) in the process. That is the whole point, right? Fulfillment. Can you find a "spark of joy" or a calm moment in an activity that you loathe?
Teach your tastebuds to change, make a commitment and still take time to enjoy the winter months when the hose isn't a "thing." What is one thing that you don't really mind doing that most people really don't like? I would love to hear...