What are the things that bother you? We all know the things that we dislike doing. Here are the key ones that sometimes get to me, and five possible ways to minimize their impact.
Cleaning (the toilet!): Tidying up is an inevitable chore. We create mess just by living – eating, sleeping, and exercising. Our daily functioning generates pots to clean, beds to make, and clothes to wash, and this repetition can become tedious.
Maintenance: Repairing and replacing things that break or get worn out, or simply doing what needs to be done to maintain the status quo. Servicing our car; getting the oil changed and tires rotated. Keeping the yard tidy; raking leaves, and pruning hedges. Updating our wardrobe; removing tired, or unloved clothes. Painting our home inside and out … and the list goes on.
Irritating interactions: Spending time with maddening individuals. People who rub you up the wrong way because of their opinions, requests, or behaviors.
On the one hand, you could just choose not to spend time on any of the things that get you down, but this would be an abdication of responsibility and may take advantage of others who would have to pick up the pieces. On the other hand, all of these hassles can be reduced by experimenting with some simple practices:
1) What happens if you choose to be OK with your anti attitude? Yep, washing dishes and wiping surfaces can be a bore. Waiting in line can be bothersome. Your neighbor talking about their garden gnome collection for the millionth time can be a yawn. But, I am allowed to think that. I am even allowed to believe that and say so. Acknowledging aversion can be absolutely fine.
2) What happens if you choose to see each action as a completely new experience without reference to the times you have encountered it before? You can make the decision to keep it fresh. Recall when you were a child, the thrill of doing something for the very first time. Each moment is a first, in that the specific set of circumstances and understanding you bring is totally unique.
3) What happens if you change something about the activity to make it more interesting? Use your imagination when you cook. Improve your routine so it is more efficient. Introduce music or share the experience with a friend to increase motivation. Some people might have a difficult time with you changing things up since they are used to responding to you based on their knowledge of your previous behavior. But they will get over it. Be mindful that this challenge doesn’t prompt reverting back to your comfort zone. You can just tell them you are trying out a new way of interacting.
4) What happens if you look for how the experience contributes to your own growth? Feeling angry, disgusted, resentful, envious, or frustrated at someone is actually a gift (in disguise). It provides an opportunity to learn about ourselves: to identify what exactly it is within us that promotes that response. Others have their own agendas and it may contradict ours to varying degrees. When this contradiction is not respected and our freedom to choose is limited, we may feel angry or frustrated. Paying attention to our anger helps us identify our priorities. Feelings of disgust or resentment tell us about our beliefs regarding what is right and wrong. If we envy another, it is a chance to pay attention to exactly what it is we feel we are lacking in comparison, and make a goal of obtaining it.
5) What happens if you commit to engaging in these annoying activities with love towards both yourself and others? Appreciate yourself for doing a beautiful job on your chores. With this in mind, take breaks to reenergize if needed. Tasks are often more irksome just because we are tired. When you have to associate with challenging people, try to find a way to connect to their higher wisdom. You might politely bring their attention to their behavior – perhaps they will explain themselves and you will gain greater understanding. Focus on what you like and make it explicit in the form of praise or acknowledgement.
These small changes in approach can make troublesome tasks and encounters less so. I would love to hear about your experiences applying any of these practices, and any other tricks to reduce the sense of chore and make our lives a breeze.