Just Wash the Dishes

Feb 11, 2013 by

This post isn’t about washing dishes.  I wanted to get that clear up front before you ran away because you hate washing dishes.

This post is about mindfulness.  Being present.  Being aware of what’s going on around you.  Being aware of what’s going on inside of you.

We are all busy.  We are all rushing around looking for ways to save time only to use that time to squeeze in more stuff into our day.  I am the worst at this.  I talked a little bit about multitasking last week and how much I think I am good at it and yet how much I really suck at it.  This sort of ties into that.

I want to do everything.  I have a huge list inside of my head of things I am interested in and want to do.  I love to say yes to new ideas and I love exploring new things.  That said our time is finite here and we can only fit in so much.  This only compounds my problem.  I try to do way too much, and often I succeed.   But from time to time I try to remind myself to slow down.  Smell the roses.  Be still.  Stop trying to do so gosh darn much and enjoy the present moment a little.  Its a constant struggle I have, but I’m still struggling so that’s a good sign.

So in the spirit of that reminder to myself, your Truly Simple Action of this week is to slow down and be mindful.  That’s kind of a very vague goal, so lets try to break it down a little.

Zenhabits has an amazing guide on mindfulness and I encourage you to read it.  I’m going to borrow a couple of points here.

Do Less

This is number 3 on his list, but I think it has to be number 1 on mine.  We just have to do less.  We can’t do it all and we should probably stop trying so hard.  Cut some things out of your life that you don’t need.  Watching TV is a big time suck that I could always do less of.

Do One Thing at a Time

Back to the multitasking thing again and here comes the washing dishes part.  I love this quote by a monk named Thich Nhat Hanh

While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes, which means the 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 these bowls 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.
~Thich Nhat Hanh

For some reason that little story has stuck with me and I try to now practice this while washing dishes.  One thing I have noticed while doing this, is that I like washing dishes now.  I love doing that one thing and shutting out everything else.  I love taking something from a dirty or broken state and making it clean or whole again.  It’s a very clean contrast of states and its a nice way to finish a task.

So that is your Truly Simple Action of the week.  Be mindful.  Do less.  Do one thing at a time.

Let yourself slow down and enjoy the present moment.

Also here is a great video of on the subject of slowing down.


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