When our first baby reached toddlerhood, my mother-in-law gave some sage advice about parenting: you can either make it easier on yourself or harder on yourself. She was talking about discipline and kids’ behavior, but it’s true for everyday life, too–we can make it easier or harder by how we think about our ordinary, repetitive tasks.
The truth is, there are LOTS of things we HAVE to do every day, or at least frequently. Why waste time and emotional energy dreading them or complaining about them?
Cleaning the kitchen. Scrubbing toilets. Answering emails. Cooking supper. Paying bills. How much harder do we make them by thinking negatively and getting aggravated?
Getting Ready in the Morning
I’ve even caught myself dreading getting ready in the morning! How smart is that? I can either choose to cheerfully go about the exercising, showering, dressing and beautifying, or I can choose to feel sorry for myself and focus on how long it takes or how much I have to do that day. Seriously. What a hard life.
When I recently realized that I had gotten into the habit of a makeup-less, t-shirt-and-yoga-pants existence at home, I took myself in hand and put more effort into my morning routine. I was surprised at the mental resistance I felt, mostly because it took longer to look nice. Duh. We’re talking a few minutes. This revealed some laziness and lack of self-discipline in my character. I can say that because I’m talking about myself. I wouldn’t say it about you because I’m not walking a mile in your shoes. But you know what? It feels better to call it what it is and set about making changes.
Talking Ourselves into Procrastination
I tell my kids that no matter how long they wait, the kitchen isn’t going to clean itself. Putting it off and dragging their feet about it just makes the pile of dishes higher and the egg yolk more stuck-on. How much simpler it is to pop in the earphones, listen to an audiobook and keep up with the kitchen after every meal.
We all know that exercise is good for us. We say we know that, and then we promptly dread it and procrastinate and make any number of excuses for why we don’t have time. In the time that we spent avoiding a workout, we could have gotten one done.
Blog Posts and Christmas
Blog posts and Christmas have this in common: neither is a surprise, so no fair complaining that it snuck up on me. Mondays and Thursdays and Decembers are pretty predictable. Better to admit that, make a plan ahead of time and get to work rather than moan about how busy I am.
We make all this stuff harder because of our thoughts and attitude about it. In an effort to excuse ourselves and avoid responsibility, we create unpleasantness in our minds that becomes tangled up with the stuff.
How The Hiding Place Helps
I re-read The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom at least every other year. I always come away with a new appreciation for the ordinary tasks of life, the things that Corrie and Betsy would have loved to do during their dreary and horrible months in prison and the concentration camp. It helps me re-set my perspective on everyday life, and become aware of my silly thoughts of dread and dislike. Corrie’s faith lessons and Betsy’s love of beauty and service inspire me to rethink my life.
Do a thought check-up and see if you’ve been unknowingly making life harder by dreading ordinary tasks. You can completely change your energy for the job by choosing a new perspective and thoughts. Make life easier by recognizing silly dread and not wasting time on complaining about things that you’re going to have to do anyway!
Have you realized that you’re making an everyday task harder by your thoughts? How will this awareness change how you approach the job?