Have you ever heard the Buddhist saying, “Chop wood, carry water?”
It’s all about how being mindful while doing everyday tasks can cut down your stress level and maybe even boost your happiness.
The idea behind it is that rather than rushing through all your boring daily “to-dos” just to get them done, you can find peace by being present and “in the moment.”
I know this might sound like a bunch of New Age/woo-woo talk – especially if you’ve got a packed schedule with work and family obligations – but there’s actually science that backs it up.
Researchers at Florida State University found that washing dishes (one of my LEAST FAVORITE chores!) actually can become what they called a “contemplative practice,” which is a form of meditation.
They had 51 students participate in the study, and found that those who followed “mindful” techniques felt a lot better after performing the chore.
Here’s the exact text that they read:
While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes. This means that while washing the dishes one should be completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes. At first glance, that might seem a little silly. Why put so much stress on a simple thing? But that’s precisely the point. The fact that I am standing there and washing is a wondrous reality. I’m being completely myself, following my breath, conscious of my presence, and conscious of my thoughts and actions. There’s no way I can be tossed around mindlessly like a bottle slapped here and there on the waves.
While they were washing, they focused on the feel of the dishes, the water’s warmth, and the smell of the soap … and they had a 27% drop in nervousness and a 25% increase in “mental inspiration.”
Kind of amazing, right!?
My takeaway on that is whenever you can, try to slow down and actually notice the things you are doing while you’re chugging through your to-do list.
Be present with it, rather than rushing through everything just to get it done (which I personally am SO GUILTY of doing sometimes!).
Instead, take a little time to just DO the task without the pressure of hurrying through it.
Personally, when I take that moment or two, I feel so much better. My stress level drops, my breathing gets deeper, and I actually don’t hate washing the dishes so much (haha!). I mean, the job has to get done anyway, so you might as well take a moment to enjoy it, right?