Finding joy in the mundane
I don’t like winter. I don’t like the cold, dreary days or the fact that the sun is barely out before it disappears again behind the horizon so that night time seems to last forever. I don’t like the barrenness that accompanies this season (clearly this is my personal opinion but I am sure there are others in my camp). I especially don’t like winters that drag on beyond their expected end date – the sort that comes back with vengeance just when you think it’s over and you’ve put away your woollen jumpers.
Just like the weather, our lives, businesses or careers can go through a winter period. Often a really productive and exciting season can be followed by a period when it seems like nothing is happening. Absolutely nothing. So much so you find yourself almost wishing for a problem to solve or a challenge to attack. Anything but this nothingness that has you pulling out your hair. You are doing the same things as you have always done, putting in the same hours and yet you seem to get little for all your efforts. You are tempted to believe you must be doing something wrong and you’d give anything to not have to deal with the mundane. The same old, same old.
As someone who loves to be on the go, moving swiftly from one project to the other, you can imagine how difficult I find seasons like this. That they are inevitable doesn’t make them any more welcome. And wishing them away doesn’t work, either, as I am sure you have discovered. Winter after all does serve a purpose and much as I hate it, I do understand the reason for its existence. If we are constantly on the go, producing, growing and makes leaps and bounds, we will very soon burn out. So, one of the ways of finding joy in the mundane is to change our attitude towards it and treat it as a blessing in disguise rather than something to dread.
In my book, Breakout – Finding significance and purpose in your everyday living I write about this very issue:
“……you might need a paradigm shift in your thinking. Contrary to the picture often painted by motivational speakers (and I have been guilty of this myself in the past), life is not meant to be lived at full speed all the time. Imagine what it would feel like to ride a roller coaster that never comes to an end. I am not a fan of roller coasters at the best of times, so the thought of being on one for longer than is absolutely necessary is disheartening. Even for those people that thrive on the thrill of a ride on Death Wish, or some similarly labelled roller coaster, getting back to the ground in one piece is always a relief.”
I have never been a Boys Scout (I am the wrong gender obviously) but I vaguely remember that their motto in those days was ‘be prepared’. If I don’t check my car tyres, the anti-freeze, make sure that I have de-icer or a scraper in my car and do the other necessary things that one has to do to get ready for possible inclement weather, then I will certainly be caught out. Just as important is my diligence in preparing my mind to accept the inevitability of a winter season in my life while reminding myself that just as day follows night, spring will surely follow winter. No matter how long a winter season lasts, it will eventually come to an end. Now that’s something to celebrate!
Take time to prepare yourself mentally for any business, career or personal lean times you will face in the future. Have a list of things you can do, including hobbies, that bring you joy and contentment. The busyness and excitement of spring is not often a good time to have substantive reflective periods where you can focus on working on your business rather than just in it, or working on your career progression rather than just the daily grind of going to work. During winter most vegetation, apart for the evergreen ones of course, lose all their leaves and can therefore channel all their energies into strengthening the core of the plant. Winter is a good time for re-evaluation, planning and strategy so that when the season comes to an end, you can hit the ground running. It could be a good time to do all those tedious jobs you have been putting off for months or years or engage in educating yourself and improving or gaining new skills.
Consistency is a characteristic of people who accomplish great things. They do what needs to be done despite how they feel or what may or may not be going well. They do the mundane because they have a long-range vision about why they are doing what they are doing and they will not let themselves be derailed. Contrary to what we think joy is not merely an emotion that is dependent on external circumstances. It is a choice we make to find aspects of our lives to be grateful for, in spite of setbacks; things to celebrate, however small and people we can serve in whatever capacity.
So where do you find yourself today? If in a spring or summer season, that’s great and you are most likely excited by all the new growth and promise of better things ahead. If, however you are in winter, instead of letting the dreariness of what’s around you affect you negatively, why don’t you take some time out to dream, plan and put things in place for the future, because spring will come eventually.
P/S To get a copy of my book Breakout – Finding significance and purpose in your everyday living click here