Saturday, January 31, 2015

Craft the Mundane

Why don't I floss? I know I should and it really doesn't take that much time. Every time I sit in the oral hygienists chair I feel like a naughty schoolboy as I wait for the question as to whether I have sorted myself out. Sometimes it inspires a few days in advance of diligence. I used to wear contact lenses before I got my eyes zapped. I can remember the optician telling me to be diligent about cleaning the lenses before and after going in my eyes. He said five seconds was enough. Turns out five seconds is too much for a morning routine that is exactly that - a task.

Cooking. Cleaning. Admin. Anything that feels like it just needs to get done sucks energy out of you. The Yogis have a term for this feeling - Tamas. A heaviness or lethargy where you just can't be asked. It is that feeling when you have eaten something heavy. Sometimes we don't do things because it is hard to start (Inertia) and sometimes we don't do things because in reality we want something different from what we say we want (Revealed Preference). Sometimes we don't do things just because they slip our mind (Order v Spice). Other times, it might be something we want to do, can prioritise, and can probably start, but we just don't really feel up to. We have run out of energy.

It may be because you aren't getting enough exercise, sleep or good food, but I suspect the source has to do with time poverty and space. Someone asked me last night what I had learnt about happiness from my first six months of daily blogging and full time thinking on the subject. It is not my aim to come up with a 10 point plan to happiness, or a magic bullet. I think that happiness is something you practise rather than something you attain. Having said that, pushed to identify the most powerful thing to improve the quality of people's lives, it would be to ensure that there is some space. This assumes material needs are being met or close to being met, but as Maya Angelou said, 'We need much less than we think we need'. 


When you have space, you can enjoy things for their own sake rather than just trying to get them done. You can cook because cooking is fun rather than because you are hungry. You can make an event out of it. You can craft your morning routine so that music you like is playing, a breakfast you enjoy awaits, and even the flossing becomes an unrushed act of pleasure. This is a theory of course. I haven't reached that state where I look forward to making my bed or working my way through the mail shortly after it comes in.

It is an interesting question though. How can you take the mundane and craft it to be something you enjoy? First you need space.


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