I came across a commercial a few weeks ago and I fell in love with it. It really amused me—but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was because I sympathized with the main character’s situation.
Although I’m a little ashamed to admit it, his situation was getting up off his couch to walk ten feet to where his friend was sitting. He complained about how far ten feet was to walk, and asked his friend to text the picture she had wanted him to come look at, instead.
I’m a very active person, usually on my feet all day or driving around doing deliveries for my business. And I find that when it comes to doing tasks that take some effort, outside the realm of my business, I usually procrastinate. Or worse, complain about the fact that I have to do them.
What that commercial made me realize is that it unfortunately reflects our society’s complaining and lazy nature, as commercials have a habit of doing.
We’ve heard our grandparents, maybe even our parents, talk about times when things weren’t so easy and instantaneous. (Anyone remember dial-up internet? That’s nothing compared to going outside in the cold to use an outhouse at 3 am!) Processes to getting things done took much more time and effort than they do these days. And yet, for those who were born in this fast-tech age, nothing “undesirable” happens fast enough. More often than not, we end up complaining about it, too.
I find this is in part due to our inexperience with doing things the “hard way.” Why walk to work when you can drive? Why go through the trouble of sending snail mail when you can send a quick email? Why go to the grocery store when you can get your groceries delivered? Of course, some of us know and value things that seem “old-fashioned.” But a lot of us think its obsolete, something unnecessary when a quicker alternative is only a click away.
I often find myself stuck in this mentality, complaining about something like making a stop at the grocery store on my way home instead of beelining it to sit on my couch to do nothing. Don’t get me wrong, there are some days when doing nothing is important, but I worry that seeking too much of that down time will lead to decreased productivity and increased effort in order to complete difficult or undesirable tasks.
If we keep going at this rate, what will be the next simple task that will become undesirable for our next generation? The Pixar movie Wall-E depicts the “space-age” generation, traveling through life on a conveyer belt—literally. Too lazy to walk anywhere, seated in their own personal space-chair, hovering from place to place. That scene always stuck with me because there are some times that I feel like that future isn’t too far off.
How can we change our attitudes in order to avoid the hassle-free conveyer belt for our future?
1. Be aware
Make your mind up to be cautious of complaining about having to do undesirable tasks. Once you are aware of it, you can catch yourself when complaining. Make a mental note of why you don’t want to do it.
2. Change your words
Instead of “Ugh I don’t want to go to the bank,” say to yourself, “This will only take a minute and then I can cross it off my list.” You more than often will not end up completing a task when you complain about it, unless someone forces you. Changing your words to an incentive, like crossing something off your to-do list (who doesn’t love that?!), will encourage you to go through with completing your errand.
3. Do it anyway, but make it fun!
You’re probably saying, how in the world can I make going to the grocery store fun? Well, its just like going to the gym. You need to be motivated. Make a playlist of songs that make you happy and energized. Listen to a comedian. Recite a mantra.
Not wanting to do something and doing it anyway without complaining, enables you to view the undesirable task in a more desirable light. Getting things done feels good, being active feels good and actually makes our brains produce dopamine—the pleasure hormone.
This is a great habit to put on your New Years resolution page, but don’t wait until then—start now 🙂
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Photo: Tran, Hughes, Nacimento, Hoehne via Unsplash