Existential Psychology

Mundane Tasks And Mindfulness

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Even the most interesting job in the world has its mundane elements, its i’s to dot and t’s to cross. The common attitude is to consider these mundane tasks necessary evils, to feel put out but to try to get through them as best we can so that we can get back to the good stuff. On a psychological side note, isn’t it interesting that a too easy task can cause just as much distress as one that is too hard?

When the time consuming tasks that you dread come around, when you’re forced to trade the interesting for the mundane, you can make things a whole lot better for yourself by treating these instances as opportunities to practice mindfulness. Actually tasks that are really simple and repetitive are well-suited for working on mindfulness because it’s easier to focus 100% of your attention on something that’s simple than on something that’s complex.

At the heart of being mindful is being present, being completely in the here and now. The mundane tasks invariably compel us to leave the present. Our thoughts wander, we project ourselves forwards or backwards in time. These are psychological strategies to escape the distressing feelings of the moment.

Instead of leaving the present while performing a repetitive task try to come fully into the here and now. Don’t get caught up in dreading how many more widgets you have or how many more hours lie in front of you. Instead just purposefully think and move in the present moment, focusing on making your breathing steady and rhythmic as you put all your attention into what you’re doing. Don’t put any negative value judgments on the experience, don’t name what you are doing as boring or beneath you.

If you try what we are talking about you will notice that your mundane task transforms into something else entirely thanks to the energy of mindfulness. Rather than feeling depleted you might even feel nourished afterwards. Some things we do because we want to, others because we feel like we have to. But we always get to decide on the how, on the attitude we take towards our lives. The mindful attitude lets you find fulfillment and meaning all the time, not just in the moments you consider worthy.