When I load the dishwasher I do so with certain noticeable patterns of behaviour, order and structure.
I set it up in such a way that ensures the glasses, cups, dishes and cutlery get washed properly and it makes it easy to unload later.
I prepare everything beforehand so that I get the best result possible. It’s a programed behaviour that’s set up in me a long time and translates to other things I do also.
That’s not to say I get everything right by applying this behaviour program, but it helps.
Behind the behaviour is a pattern, a structure of neurological signals in my brain that kick in automatically and help me carry out common tasks quickly and efficiently.
It helps me record and produce a podcast or a video. The pattern helps me structure an article and give the right degree of attention to things like SEO.
It also helps me prepare a meal.
Now, some people in my house, as I’ve written before, can’t load the dishwasher right at all, and that’s alright.
For the sake of peace, harmony and my own sanity I’ve given up trying to convert them to “a better way”.
You see I’ve managed to realise something important in that long enduring dishwasher battle and I want to let you in on it.
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How We Spend Our Moments
In that dishwasher article from a few years ago, I took the triviality of it all and attempted to illustrate a deeper issue.
That issue as I still see it is that there is far too much reliance on convenience in our society. We want these tedious tasks like washing dishes and doing laundry taken away.
These things get in the way of real living whatever that is supposed to be.
We seem to be living in a constant mood of dissatisfaction and anxiety ranging from mild and just about tolerable to acute.
We think the solution is out there in the world in gadgets and machines. The truth however, is we are the creative center of our own experience and the solutions are not outside us.
Everything we think and feel now creates the lives we live.
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. – Annie Dillard, The Writer’s Life
These days I hardly use the dishwasher at all, I prefer to handwash. Besides, handwashing is quicker, cleaner and more effective.
I’ve been training my kids to clean what they use immediately they are finished too.
In a small way this practice of cleaning what they use helps train them out of the disposable, shortcut mindset society that we’re building.
Patterns Of Behaviour
A little further down the road from that article, my dishwasher anxiety has eased. I’ve managed to see something deeper in all of this.
As I explained above, the reason I load the dishwasher the way I do is because of preset patterns of behaviour.
The reason others in my house do it their way is for the same reason and losing my mind over it is madness on my part.
Yeah sure, it can be fun to rant about it, but having automatic frustrated responses to how other people behave is no less insane than the pursuit of convenience I mentioned.
So now I just let it be. As such my state of mind and my relationship is better for it.
Is it really so important that other people behave the way we want them to?
Does it really make sense to sacrifice relationships for the sake of conformity to our ideas of right and wrong on trivial matters or indeed matters we deem important?
Although like you I struggle with this, I can tell you that I believe it’s not.
Everyone has established patterns of behaviour that express automatically in every moment. Neuroscience shows us that we don’t have a choice in much of that.
However, that doesn’t mean we can’t change the direction of of our experience.
Momentum of thought and behaviour will take us on a ride, that’s for sure. But we have a choice about whether or not we accept our circumstances.
Free Will Or Determinism?
Although certain automatic neurological functions may dictate behaviour, we get to direct our experience.
It’s is not a case of free will or determinism. We have a choice.
From my own experience and limited research on the matter I believe life experience is a balance of automatic response and conscious choice.
Yes our bodies perform billions of automatic functions beyond our day to day awareness that influence behavior but we are not dictated to completely by that.
When you’re hungry you’ll receive strong impulses to stop what you’re doing and eat. But what you eat is an expression of choice.
You can choose something sugary and convenient, or you can choose to carry on your way until you reach a healthy alternative.
Momentum has a huge influence in your choice here but you get to have a say in that too.
If something is bothering you, change it.
Make one small change towards what you want rather than taking the easy route that you know doesn’t serve you.
Remember though, if it’s other people’s behaviour that is troubling you, it’s not their behaviour that’s the problem but rather you’re intolerance of it.
Making It Ok
So getting back to the dishwasher scenario…
My wife loads it in a disorganised and erratic manner. Plates have food on them, knives, forks and spoons are upside down and all mixed up.
Plates and bowls have no designated place and it’s always overloaded. It’s crazy stuff I tells ye.
But I deal with it.
It’s not that I ignore my frustration, but rather I don’t make it important any longer. If I find the dishwasher badly organised I just rearrange it.
And even if I don’t it’s ok.
Now, all of this can be completely misunderstood. You might say that my view is a defeatist one, that we should accept things the way they are.
And, well you’d be right.
You and everyone you know from the guy living on the street to the billionaire business owner is where they are by virtue of established patterns of behaviour.
That’s hard to accept isn’t it?
We’d rather believe that other people and circumstances beyond our control made things the way they are, and if we can make them change then everything will be alright.
Everyone else is to blame, right?
Articles This Week
I didn’t do any writing this week. I chose to focus on drawing instead.
It felt like I was forcing things just a tad. It felt like I was trying to make things happen and I didn’t feel good about it so I stopped.
Drawing helps me find my center because I can force it. It just happens by itself.
I’m drawing Imelda May in A0 size (1189mm x 841mm) and I’m making good progress.
#McGregor prints are available in three sizes right now A2, A3 & A4 and is shipped standard post in a 450mm tube with the following;
- An art certificate of original work
- A pair of white cotton gloves for handling
All the best!