Enjoying the mundane moments in life

Posted by Jonathan Weyermann on January 2, 2018 at 12:00 AM

Dirty dishes

Many of us distract ourselves from the boring moments in life by pulling out our mobile phones. If you ever take public transit, and are not on your own phone, you can't help but notice how prevalent this trend is. But sometimes I'm forced to ask myself if life passing me by, because I'm skipping my boredom with my smartphone. Eventually, I have trouble enjoying the quiet moments, but require constant simulation.

 In the future I expect this trend to become more prevalent even, as cell phones are replaced by wearables,  or even augmentation implants. Is the time when one can merely spend time with his own thoughts coming to an end? Are we many of us incapable of enjoying time in quiet contemplation, or focusing on the tasks we're doing at this present moment? Are boring tasks and moments ones to eradicate? Should we seek to optimize and outsource them so we can move on to more interesting thing, where we can finally enjoy ourselves after our hard labor? Our should we seek contentment and happiness in whatever we're currently doing,  realizing happiness is a choice,  not the result of external forces? This is not an easy question.  After all, it seems only logical to do more of what brings you happiness, and to reduce boredom and suffering.

It seems best do learn to enjoy the unavoidably boring parts of life, not to try to avoid them by getting out your smart phone,  especially when it only extends the time required to complete a task. These times spend on your smartphone,  unless managed carefully,  are seldom productive, and only ensure to rob you of your precious time. So before you whip out the smart phone and browse, its best to evaluate if your current task in the real world will take a nosedive in effectiveness. While it may make sense to use your smartphone while waiting in line somewhere, using it to distract yourself while doing dishes or trying to get ready in the morning will only extend the routine, robbing you of precious time. 

At the same time, it also may make sense to reduce the boring parts of life you don't enjoy by automating them away.  As much as some may say that doing dishes by hand builds character,  if you can significantly reduce the amount of time you spend doing them,  and you don't find the activity enjoyable, it probably makes sense to put in a dishwasher. Also, it can make sense to perhaps outsource takes you do not enjoy.  Often this only makes sense however if doing so can allow you to increase your productivity elsewhere. For most people, outsourcing yard work is not going to result in spending more hours working,  but more sedentary hours in front of a screen. In that case, doing your own chores is a win win,  both increasing the amount of exercise you do and reducing the money coming out of your pocket. It always makes sense to learn to love an activity that is both good for your health and good for your pocketbook. While you can outsource many things, you have to take care of your own health. You can get others to encourage you in it, but no one can be healthy for you. 

But how do you enjoy the mundane? This is an especially difficult questions for new parents, as the pace of life can slow right down, and you don't enjoy a lot of the freedoms you're used to previously. Instead, even previously simple tasks can become chores, as you're life seems to revolve around your baby. First, acceptance is critical. Just accept that regardless of where you'd rather be right now, or what you'd rather be doing, you can't really escape your task at hand,  and you might as well try to enjoy the present moment. Don't try to focus on how you may feel like your wasting your time, but accept that whatever youre doing is the the most important task right now. Try to live in the moment of the task, focus on what you're currently doing and the sensations involved. Resist the urge to let your mind wander, but be mindful of your thoughts, and redirect them back to this present moment. 

The key is not to let the past or the future dominate the present moment. By focusing on what you're looking forward to, or an event in the past, you're ruining you're enjoyment of the the present. So whenever you find yourself doing that, take a deep breath, count to five, and try to just enjoy life right now.