Light up your life

To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it. Mother Teresa

Sometimes we have no choice but to cheerfully keep doing what seems boring, insipid and repetitive. The fact is that these are small inconveniences that we have to put up with in order to ensure that we can keep going forward and attain our goals. In the winter, when we are cozy in bed enjoying our sweet dreams, the alarm rudely jolts you and signals the beginning of another day. You then reluctantly get out of bed. What is worse is that this goes on for a couple of months and yet you wouldn’t dare to shut of the alarm much as you hate it. Similarly most of our life goes in doing repetitive tasks be it ironing our clothes, polishing our shoes or brushing our teeth and taking a shower and we do it cheerfully sometimes, reluctantly occasionally but most times we are indifferent.

On the larger canvas of life, there are many other tougher challenges that irritate and disturb us but we might be left with no choice but to go through it. Perhaps it is the daily commute, the nasty boss whom you despise but have to meet daily or it could be the insufferable canteen food that challenges you daily.  The real issue is not the repetitive action but the attitude to it. If one were to look at these tasks as chores to be done, it would be painful, never ending and accepted in bad grace. On the other hand if one were to see it as an opportunity to contribute, learn from, influence others etc. we would eagerly await the chance.  When in love for example, we never seem to tire of meeting the same person daily and spend hours with him/ her. When we keep solving mathematics problems because we want to score well we visualize the success and cope with the strain and stress of solving as many problems as we can.

To ensure that we not only cope up with the daily grind, what we need to do is change our attitude. Looking at the resultant benefits is a sure shot way to make peace with ourselves and enjoy the work on hand. E.g. If we are overweight, the thought of losing weight and looking handsome/ pretty will  spur us on to hit the gym and do the workouts with vigor and enthusiasm. If we can see the big picture it helps us better appreciate our contribution to the whole structure and we also realize what an important role we play in scripting the success story. E.g. Instead of merely seeing our job as that of a brick layer if we realize that we are contributing to building a palace, we realize our contribution and strategic utility and then even the most mundane job becomes interesting and important to us.  Be motivated by the opportunity to learn and grow. Then if one has to chase ones dream then no job is too tough or too demeaning. E.g. Most students pursuing their studies in the west are acutely conscious of the steep fee structure and so they pick up part time jobs well below their educational level, status  and dignity but see it as contributing to their long term goals and so they are motivated and charged up.

To brighten our future, our life and the present moment we need to constantly fuel our desires, plans and our efforts, all of which may be very repetitive and monotonous in nature but critical and unavoidable. We need to seek out a reason to like these tasks just as one constantly refills the lamp with oil in order to dispel darkness and provide light.

Remember: It is better to light a lamp than curse the darkness.

Try this:

  1. If you are a habitual procrastinator identify 3 reasons for your behavior. ( If you do not know what is procrastination check the meaning right now or you are guilty of procrastinating.) List out 5 jobs that are still pending and begin attempting to complete the tasks.
  2. If you are guilty of any two of the following, it could signal your aversion to doing mundane / repetitive tasks.
  • Not filing your papers regularly
  • Polishing your shoes only occasionally
  • Delaying paying your bills even if you have sufficient bank balance to pay off your outstanding
  • Not doing some task requested by a family member / friend simply because you can take them for granted.
  • Not keeping appointments because you find there are more pleasurable alternatives

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