You Have Two Choices: Enjoy, or Make it Enjoyable

There are two really good ways to approach everything we need to do:

Enjoy it – or make it enjoyable.

I was thinking about this while recalling a Zen Habits article where Leo wrote, “Enjoy the process.” That’s something I often forget, but his advice is priceless. With those words in mind, I’d like to share these tips:

How to Enjoy Practically Anything

When I think about a task as a to-do item, I definitely don’t enjoy it. Things like laundry, vacuuming and scrubbing the toilet are hard to love. But I know from experience it’s possible to enjoy anything. It’s all in how you approach it. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy practically anything.

Think about what you are doing. Watch how your hands move, how the laundry feels and what sounds fill the room. Be mindful in what you are doing and you will truly enjoy it more.

Go slowly, but steadily. Often, I dislike tasks because I’m rushing through them. That never feels good. The truth is, every moment in life matters, and life is not a race. Do things at a slower pace and don’t worry about the next item on your list.

Everything we do could be worse. I don’t like doing laundry, but what a blessed life I have to be able to open a machine, add soap and press a button. I don’t have to bring my basket to a river poisoned by garbage. No matter how much there is to do, there is someone out there who is doing something much harder, and I can appreciate that it isn’t me.

How to Make Anything Enjoyable

This is a fun one. While I do believe it’s possible to enjoy practically anything, I don’t think we have to ignore how we feel.

If you really hate to do something, why not try to make it enjoyable? In essence, that’s the place I started when I wanted to quit my day job. I didn’t hate my job, but I felt it could be more enjoyable to work for myself. I longed for enough time to write AND manage my home. That was where I started. I asked a hard question: How can I make my job more enjoyable?

You should ask questions like that, too. Write a list of answers as you think of them.

For smaller tasks, like vacuuming or making dinner, you can try adding things you already enjoy to those activities. Here are a few ways I make mundane tasks more enjoyable:

  • Listen to music or audiobooks (Recent intense read: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson)
  • Fold laundry while watching a movie
  • Ask for help and make the chore playful. Throw washcloths at each other and laugh.
  • Designate clean up music for the whole family. We like Bob Marley.
  • If you like goals, set a timer and see how much you can accomplish in that time.

I don’t live in a complete dreamworld. I know some things we have to do aren’t wonderful, but a little creativity can improve the experience. I truly believe each day in our lives is unique and worth enjoying to the fullest.

What are some ways you make chores more enjoyable?

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1 Nicole November 15, 2011 at 1:13 am

Great post Melissa! I have this minute just finished hanging out laundry, dinner prep and scrubbing my daughters white desk (ready for new paint tomorrow). All done while listening a BBC podcast about Anne Wood We only have one life to live so your advice is crucial, let’s make each moment the best it can be and choose to okay with it.

2 Nicole November 15, 2011 at 1:16 am

PS I hate mopping floors and helping my girls brush their teeth the most (who knows why?) so years ago when my oldest was little I asked my husband if he REALLY wanted to help me he could take these two chores off my list. And he did :) He has NO IDEA when the floor is dirty so I just tell him straight “it’s floor night tonight” and he throws on his headphones and listens to an audio book whilst doing it. And he has been cleaning our daughters teeth every morning and night for 9 years (I know my 9 year old should be doing her own teeth but she really is hopeless at it!).

3 Brittnie (A Joy Renewed) November 15, 2011 at 6:37 am

I hate folding laundry and dusting the house! So when it is time for these chores I turn up some of my favorite music and jam while I work. It immediately lifts my mood and puts a smile on my face. Great post!

4 Thekla Richter November 15, 2011 at 3:45 pm

I like to try smiling gently while I work. It does need to be a true genuine smile, not forced, but one can still choose to smile. Most of the time we think that we smile because we’re happy, but sometimes the act of smiling can itself create a warm feeling of well-being and bring out the joy of an otherwise unremarkable moment.

5 Lisa Ahn November 15, 2011 at 8:31 pm

I love the advice to really think about what you are doing — something I’m not particularly good at. And I do need to slow down!
I make chores, and driving, less boring by thinking through plot lines or sections of my novel or stories I’m writing. It’s something I’ve done since I was a kid, making up stories in the background. :)

6 Ben Craib November 16, 2011 at 1:33 pm

I make chores enjoyable by doing as you suggest – turning it into a mindful meditation. Accept the job and the moment – at it really becomes a pleasure!

Like you, when wanting to change job I decided to enjoy my current job as much as I could and be grateful for it. It’s amazing how your whole world changes when you start to emphasise the positives.

7 Marci | Liberating Choices November 25, 2011 at 9:45 am

I listen to music, tell myself it’s good exercise, and I generally like the way my house looks when it’s all tidy. Hope you had a nice thanksgiving Melissa!

8 Lea November 25, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Love the title, its so true. There are so many creative ways to make the boring more enjoyable.

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