Have to // Want to.

Have to and want to, many things in life fall into these two categories. I want to go for a bike ride but I have to  do the dishes. I want to take the dog on an adventure but I have to clean the house. These two phrases rarely join onto a mutual path, seeming to be running parallel to each other in perpetuity.

With each passing thought though, why do the things we have to do always feel like the biggest burden. Many people will wash their car happily, yet despise washing the dishes – a monumentally easier task. Some of my friends love cooking, yet I’ve never met anyone who loves cleaning the stove afterwards. Is this all a mentality thing? Is the key to life purely mentality?

I suppose in a simplistic way – yes. Some things will always be hard, and some things will never be fun. Having a good mentality about the subject will make those tasks more bearable at least, if not easier as well.

I thought of this the other day, the art of pride in every task, it came from my “Ritual” post a few days ago, waking up was hard; until I took pride in my mornings. That made it a little easier. So I’ve tried it in a few more ways. I try and look at the end product rather than the task at hand. Rather than seeing a sink full of dishes, I visualise an empty sink to give me the motivation to invest that 20 or 30 minutes into the washing. When the house needs cleaning rather than looking at the mess that may have accumulated over a week of living and working, I think about how much more peace I feel looking at clean work surfaces and cabinets. The task may be boring, but the end product is always enjoyable.

Every task you do can bear fruit of positive sensations upon completion. Focussing on the completion rather than the task helps to alleviate the sense of dread and replace it with a drive to complete the task at hand.

Your greatest achievements needn’t be a pay rise, completing a novel, running further than yesterday. Sometimes a great achievement can be taking part in an activity with your whole self, without ever having to think “I must to do the dishes when I get home”.

Treat every task as an achievement and allow completion to be an allocated part of your day, see how your day and mind changes through the process.

After all, it’s always easier to complete a task before you add more on top of it.

The Ritual.

Let me preface this by saying, I am not a morning person. I need at least a cup of coffee and ideally a cup of tea before I have to become too involved in any major tasks of the day. Sadly my work doesn’t always allow me to give in to my night owl tendencies and sometimes forces me to join those of the pre-sunrise. In that I always struggled.

Just because I don’t like the harrowing sound of a shrill alarm ringing before the sun has even burst across the horizon though, doesn’t mean I can’t modify my mornings to make it a little less of a begrudging awakening each morning.

Enter the ritual.

The time of morning I have to wake up varies, which wreaks havoc on my body clock. I always envied those in the world who could awaken at 5am and immediately be a functioning and productive human being, oh how I envied them. So I made a change, and dare I say, I’m nearly one of those early morning functioning humans… Nearly.

These days my morning goes a little differently. Gone are the days of snoozing my alarm 6 or 7 times, only to wake up in a panic because I’m running 45 minutes late. Actually, gone are the mornings where I had to set my alarm 45 minutes early because I knew I would snooze the alarm 6 or 7 times. No longer do I skip a morning meal that would tide me over for the day. No more do I wake up and jump in the shower, only to jump out as soon as possible. Gone are the days of not having time to make my morning coffee in peace, and instead having to spend $5 at the local coffee shop on the way to work.

It all seems a lifetime ago when my mornings were filled with stress, panic and rush. Thinking back makes me feel so much more at ease with my new peaceful, purposeful and steady mornings. No more being late, no more being worried.

Enough babbling about the past, how did it change?

Quite simply, I always get up early these days – regardless of necessity. For the simple reason that I have the ritual to perform. The best part is that the ritual only adds 20-30 minutes to my mornings – the time I would normally spend dragging myself in and out of sleep with the aid of a ‘snooze’ button. Let me just say – The snooze button is a terrible addition to an alarm.

My mornings are now simple. I set my alarm and hour and a half before I need to wake up – because I don’t like having to rush; life is too short to run everywhere in a panic.

The first step of the ritual is out of bed and into the spare room for 10 minutes of restorative yoga. Personally I use the “Down Dog” app which has always been brilliant and easy to follow as well as a peaceful experience. In 10 minutes of the “restorative” setting I get to do a variety of simple stretches, without too much exertion, to wake me up gradually as well as warm my body up, no more hobbling around the house in the morning.

Once I have finished my yoga I start phase 2 – Meditation. Currently I am undertaking mindfulness meditation through the “Headspace” app. Another brilliant and welcoming app for the beginner. This allows me to warm my mind up as well as my body; Meditation always finds a way to let me start the day in peace and happiness. In this way I can aim to start each day without the burden of any negative subject matter that may be fogging my mind.

Now in 20 minutes I have awoken my body and mind peacefully, that shrill alarm doesn’t seem so malicious as it used to. This allows me to properly wake to the day. The ritual is merely the bridge, across which I travel from the realm of sleep to the realm of wake. I make my coffee and my breakfast, walk the dog; all in high spirits. Then with my body and mind at peace and awake I can jump on my bicycle, grinning from ear to ear as I cycle to my day at work.

Because life is also to short not to have a smile on your face as you go to work.

An open thought on action.

I had another idea of what I wanted to write today, but this feels like a better rabbit hole to dive down today. After all philosophies and practices I can write about any day, whereas this is an active feeling and acceptance.

I wanted to go out tonight to try meet some new people, meet some potentially new friends, but upon getting back from work, I was just too tired and my body said no. Even on the way home from work I was struggling to find the effort. There are a few reasons that I have allowed myself to feel OK about not going to a meet tonight.

  • My body has actively said it doesn’t want to.

There is a difference between “I can’t be bothered” and “I can’t”. I never used to let myself see the difference, I was either lazy or not, did or didn’t. Had I got home feeling fresh and still not gone because the couch was calling, that would be lazy. Today I came to the realisation that I was burning my reserve energy and it’s a Thursday. That means that  I would be left mentally and physically exhausted with another day of work where I can’t just sleep it off. Burning the candle at both ends is never a good idea. Allowing yourself guilt when you notice that candle burning too rapidly is also not a good idea. Feel free to listen to your body and your heart. They are generally telling you what you need, just listen.

  • Sometimes you have to prioritise.

Without going into too much detail, I need to sit down with some people and have a proper chat. It’s also OK to put little things on the back burner when the important things need that attention.

  • Breakdown the rarity.

This is a weekly event. Next week it will happen again, I can always go in the future. If I actively plan for that to take place I can also make sure I get enough rest, eat enough food and be proactive in ensuring my body has the best shot of seeing a social activity through.

  • Don’t let the past guilt rest on your shoulders.

“This will be another one you miss” was uttered to me. While yes that is true and I have given up hope of going previously, that was in a different mind state. I am actively trying to seek more purposeful decisions, an activity I can admit I haven’t always given proper value. In the past, the couch or a Netflix binge would be enough to turn me around. Now I am actively weighing up the important things. Will this bring me value? Yes. Will it be the best use of my time in the long run? Maybe not. I’m starting to learn that letting the actions of the past find refuge in the decisions of today will help no one. Make informed decisions, if it turns out a decision was wrong – don’t dwell on that; learn why it was a bad decision and avoid making that choice in the future.