Even with Tim Ferriss teaching everything and the good life in a pan – his next book will be The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life, after all [Amazon affiliate link] – I wonder if he actually ever cooks, let alone does the dishes.
After all, why cook when you can let someone else do it, why clean the house when you’ll be moving, why fold your clothes when you’re just going to have to do it all over again. Don’t you have better things to do?
Not to forget, you may be bad at it. Personal confessions have been all the rage on personal growth / lifestyle design / etc. blogs, so let me confess something, too: I’m terrible at doing the dishes.
Cleaning up is a problem, anyways. I love not having my place cluttered, but I always work on so many things, the tumult just grows. And while I try and focus on those important things, I don’t want to think of the dirty dishes. So, they are left sitting in the sink, or even on the table.
There is something to be said for this unpopular maintenance work of life, though.
Sure, you can make some parts of it more efficient, others more effective, and avoid others again entirely – but if you want to live a halfway decent, ordinary life (and no one could be all that extraordinary in everything they do), there are some – many – things that just need doing.
A child has to learn for (let alone from and in, hopefully) school, a body needs to be nourished, and therefore you need to cook (preferably) and eat, a household should be cleaned… and the only sensible way to deal with it is to deal with it, not to “hack” it front and back.
This is especially true because better habits and values are the best “hack” for many a part of life. Getting such chores done before they become too much of a burden, and realizing that they are, in fact, not chores that distract from real life, but life itself. Otherwise, you may also try to apply the “Pareto-think”-hack of cutting out the 80% of things done together with your partner that may not be the most intensely pleasurable, in order to have more of the 20% that is – which is a surefire way to end up without that partner, and any of the pleasure that having a significant other brings.
It is also a childish, irresponsible approach to life to try to avoid everything that is not fun. Of course, not taking a good, hard look at the ways you are distracting yourself from getting down to what you need to get done would also be rather irresponsible.
The challenge, though, is to look at all the different elements that make up a good life, the different things that make happy in their whole range – or there is so much focus on self-development that social relations suffer, so much drive towards work and money that health and family suffer.
Naturally, some choice is still required. Sometimes, the choice may be to focus on one thing over all others, but it mustn’t remain like that if you want to be a well-rounded person getting the most out of his/her life.
Part of that also has to be accepting that some things just need to get done, whether they are comfortable or not, feel like growth opportunities or not. Especially when it is something like doing the dishes or putting away the clothes, which is easier when it is done immediately, and takes up valuable space in your thoughts when it’s something that must yet be done.
Think there just isn’t enough time in a day? Look at athlete mothers who manage to find the time for both their training and their kids. Entrepreneurs who don’t forget to cook, do sports, and maintain their relationship.
Complaining about the chores keeping us from our passions, our more sensible work, doesn’t hold up at all when there’s still time for TV and Facebook. I, too, immediately think “but I need my relaxation, too” – but what could be more energizing than working on something that’s a passion of yours, that you put heart and soul – not to forget brain and hands – into?
So, try to become a better partner, a human being in the deepest sense of that word, showing that there really can be better lives, with virtue and responsibility as well as passion and fun. Get started by doing the dishes. Now.