You hate folding laundry. It’s boring, tedious, and takes forever to do. But alas, until technology finally advances enough to fold your clothes for you, there’s no getting out of it.
Which means that, best case, you get it done on your own in a reasonable amount of time.
Worse case, you jam it all into the corner of the room and pretend not to see it as you get dressed each day. But we both know you can only ignore that pile for so long. Because at some point, you’re going to run low on shirts and will have to begrudgingly rifle through the mound for something to wear.
All the while, in the pursuit of a shirt, you toss everything else aside. A pair of pants to your left, a loose sock to your right, a towel behind you.
Worse case is your norm
You finally find the shirt you need. You stand up to put it on and are taken aback; your room is a mess. Clothes are strewn everywhere. Clean clothes have started partying with dirty clothes and chaos is the new law of the land.
I don’t have time for this, you think, I’m already late for work as it is!
You hurriedly put the shirt on, grab your coffee, head out the door. All the while, your laundry is there. Or rather, everywhere. Piled high in both the recesses of your room and in the already long to-do list running through your head as you drive to work.
“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” – Benjamin Franklin
Surely, your morning would have operated much smoother had you dealt with the laundry several days ago. Instead of stacking the clothes in the corner, they would have been patiently waiting for you in the dresser.
Instead of littering your room (thus adding another chore to your to-do list), you would have gotten dressed with no fuss. And instead of running late, you would’ve been out the door right on time.
But none of that happened because you let your disinterest in laundry corrupt your short-term thinking.
What if you could make peace with laundry though? Actually, not just laundry, but with everything you hate doing? And furthermore, what if you could make the things you love even more enjoyable?
The concept of egg-boxing
On The Tim Ferriss Show, guest, Dr. Peter Attia, was asked about this weird thing he does called egg-boxing.
Traditionally, when cracking an egg, you bang an egg on a nearby surface – the counter, the pan, what have you. In egg-boxing, though, you bang one egg against another egg. Whichever egg cracks is the loser. That cracked egg gets opened and put in the pan.
The uncracked egg is the winner and lives to fight another day.
Attia actually goes so far as to tally the win streaks of certain eggs, but that’s not required.
From hate to love
I never cared for cooking eggs until I tried egg-boxing. As soon as I boxed my first eggs, I was hooked (it’s the only way I’ll cook eggs now). Suddenly a chore that I disliked became a game that I enjoyed. Put another way, I turned a bad thing into a good thing.
Which brings me to the point of this post: you have the power to turn things you don’t enjoy into opportunities of fulfillment. Of happiness. Of meaning.
I’m supposed to derive meaning from egg-boxing? Yes. But in a more subtle way. By turning things you dislike into things you do like, you open yourself up to increased fulfillment. Even in the smallest of ways.
Creating a fulfilled life
I talk about goal success a lot.
This concept of setting and achieving goals that result in a more fulfilling life for yourself. One of meaning and purpose. Where you wake up each day excited and go to bed each night content.
A life that when you look around at the various aspects of who you are, you are fulfilled. As in, you:
- Have a meaningful career
- Relationships with people you love
- Body that you are confident about, etc.
That’s hard to achieve though when you’re bogged down in things you hate. Some are obvious and can be dealt with as such. For instance, you dislike your job so you find a new job, don’t like your boyfriend so you break up, feel unhealthy so you start going for runs.
How to get fulfillment out of things you dislike
Some things are less obvious though. Like doing the dishes, or dusting, or responding to email. Little things that you may not feel add up, but do. And if they add up negatively, they will decrease your overall fulfillment.
On the other hand, if they add up positively, they will increase your overall fulfillment.
With that understanding, the question to ask is: how do you limit negativity and increase positivity? The answer: through awareness and testing.
Speaking to the former point (awareness), it’s recognizing the moments when you feel angry, unhappy, frustrated. Just picture sitting in any waiting room and you’ll know what feelings I’m talking about. Once you are aware of what’s decreasing your fulfillment, you can do something about it.
Addressing the latter point (testing), it comes down to your willingness to experiment. To reject the idea that folding laundry has to be a bad thing and instead to see it as a problem to be solved.
Doing the dishes is my version of laundry
I already spoke of egg-boxing in my own life. But something else that I do is listen to audiobooks when cleaning dishes. Because doing the dishes is my laundry and I’d much rather not do it. However, I know if I don’t, it will create bigger issues in the future, so I deal with it promptly.
To counteract the negative feelings I have for it though, I listen to a book on my phone all the while.
This serves a couple of purposes.
First, one of my goals is to complete two books a month. So listening to audiobooks while doing the dishes (or while doing most chores, for that matter) is a great way to work towards that goal.
Second, listening to a book acts as a positive distraction; taking me away from the negative thoughts of smashing all the dishes, to one of positivity, learning, and education. A much better place to be. In other words, I’ve taken a hated chore and made it into something positive or, at the least, made it a neutral activity.
Which goes towards increasing my overall fulfillment.
Make a positive even more positive
Here’s another one…. I enjoy doing cardio. I guess I’m fortunate in that regard because it doesn’t seem to be an opinion many people share.
On top of that, one of my goals is to spend at least five minutes each day thinking of things I’m grateful for. Another thing I enjoy doing.
And so what I’ve done is combine them. As in, when I do cardio, I regularly spend at least five minutes during that time thinking of things I’m grateful for. It’s a positive plus a positive which equals even more positive! It’s taking two things I already enjoy, then combining them into something that I enjoy even more.
*Which reminds me, I’m about to go for a run on the beach once I’m done writing this to you.
Going to the beach at least twice a month is another goal of mine. So I’m combining cardio (which I enjoy), with being grateful (a goal, which I enjoy), with going to the beach (another goal, which I enjoy).
Revising the past
Let’s return once more to the laundry example from earlier. But this time, let’s do it differently.
Instead of letting laundry pile up, you turn on your favorite podcast and start folding. Sure, it takes you an hour to fold it all, but you were laughing so much you barely noticed. And hey, look at that, your laundry’s done and you’re in a good mood.
You’ve turned a negative thing into a positive one with barely any effort.
Moving forward with increased fulfillment
This kind of adjustment is easy to do yet has a powerful impact on your life.
So look around. Become aware of what things you dislike (negative) and what things you do like (positive). And then, experiment with making the negative things less negative and the positive things that much more positive.
In doing so, witness as your life takes on new feelings of fulfillment. Of sustained happiness. Of meaning and purpose.
Look around. Make a change.