Friday, June 6, 2008

Reward Lies Within Ourselves

I received a comment from Donna who suggested the emotional reward for doing household chores lies within ourselves. She also says that for her, any chores left undone are sources of stress. I agree with her on both counts. That is precisely why the cluttered closets and drawers in my home cause me grief (stress). There are times I do feel good about cooking and cleaning for my family. I've also felt the sense of pride in a job well-done and satisfaction in knowing I'm caring for my loved ones. But I still have those days where I wish I'd never have to cook another meal or dust another piece of furniture.
Since writing about household chores and the lack of "reward" for doing them, I've had some time to think about all that. One idea that comes to mind is something I've heard for years, but I've only recently begun to personally embrace. It's the idea that we make our own happiness. I think that goes along with rewarding ourselves. We can't sit idly by and wait for others to make us happy or reward us for the things we do. Some of us would be waiting a very long time.
I've recently begun to take Monday as my reward and free day of the week. Some choose the weekends as free days, but around here, I never feel that weekends are free from work. I usually continue to cook on weekends and try to catch up on laundry or get one step ahead of it for the next week. For me, Sunday isn't even the day of rest it's supposed to be. I'd often dread Monday because that was my designated laundry day and the start of another week of chores and responsibilites with no end in sight.
After much encouragement from my wise and loving cousin, Jeanette, and my dear and caring friend, Deanna, I think I've finally learned how to take a day off and enjoy myself - without guilt. Monday is now MY day of rest. Laundry can wait. I've begun to cook meals on Saturday (since I'm cooking anyway) and that allows me to feed my family for more than one day. I generally fix two main dishes at a time, so we'll have meals for the next four days. We usually have some leftovers and those work as meals for the following weekend. I intersperse the meals so hubby and I won't get too bored. Since Friday is Family Dinner Night, I sometimes have that night off from cooking. For make-ahead meals, I cook soup, casseroles, lasagna, pasta salad, chicken & noodles, or other easily made entrees. Since it's just my hubby and me, we can always obtain two meals or more from one casserole. It's just a matter of adding a vegetable or two and a salad to complete each meal. I love the stress-free feeling of having those things ready, and that in itself is a reward.
My Mondays are now filled with things I want to do, rather than things I feel I have to do. Sometimes I spend part of the day looking through magazines and books, and trying to get creative juices to flow. Other times I actually sit and watch a movie or play with the cats. Many times, I'm able to have phone visits with Deanna and other friends - without feeling guilty.
If I'm in the mood to do it, I might bake a batch of cookies. Once in awhile, I get the urge to sew. I made new kitchen curtains a few weeks ago. They're a bit vintage looking and the fabric is yellow with red ladybugs on it. That was not previously a color combination I would have used, but I like it. When I look at those simply-made curtains, I smile and feel happy that I took the time to make them. That feeling of accomplishment is a reward too. No accomplishment is too small to enjoy.
It doesn't matter what I choose to do on my free day. The important thing is that I don't feel guilty about taking a day for myself. Of course there are still some things that need to be done on Monday. I always attend to my pets' needs and I address family needs that might arise. I try to be flexible. But it's such a great feeling Sunday night to know that I have a free Monday coming. My dearest friend and my cousin would both insist that it is not only acceptable, but also very necessary to a woman's emotional health and well-being, to take a day off from housework from time to time. I thank them for encouraging me to do just that.
On Steve Goodier's inspirational website, someone suggested whatever sort of day we think we will have, we'll be correct - in other words, if we arise in the morning and decide it's going to be a nasty day, then it will be. If we decide the day is going to be beautiful even if it's raining, then it will be beautiful. That would seem to suggest we have more power over our days than we sometimes think we do.
I'm not so sure we can automatically set our minds in positive directions upon arising in the mornings. It takes a bit of effort. Many things cause us to feel less than happy about what we think our days might hold in store for us. If we're not feeling well physically, that will affect our thoughts. If we've had disagreements with family members, those might weigh heavily on our minds. If we're dreading doctor or dentist visits, that will change how we feel about our days.
Many experts people feel that being happy is a conscious choice each person makes. As Donna expressed, emotional rewards (happiness?) lie within ourselves. If that is true, and I believe it is, perhaps we can learn to find joy in doing those mundane tasks we don't find appealing. Maybe we can even find something good about an otherwise lousy day.
I had a surprise presented to me yesterday - a root canal I had no idea I needed! I hadn't been nervous about the dental visit. I thought it would be fairly routine. But after I learned the bad news, and then as I sat in the dental chair for three hours, I pondered what might actually be good about being there. At first, there wasn't much I could list, and when I saw the bill, I was sure it had been a horrendous day. But driving home, I began to find things that had been positive about the experience. I was thankful I'd found a dentist with a kind demeanor and a gentle touch. I was thankful my ordeal had not produced more pain than I'd already experienced. I was thankful the dental staff had been very kind and that I'd found some kindred cat lovers in the office. I was thankful that my hubby had been very understanding and had taken the cost in stride. He said I needed to have whatever procedures were best for me. As odd as it might seem, there were some good and positive things that came out of an otherwise unpleasant experience.
Perhaps happiness and thankfulness go hand in hand.


Donna said...

BRAVO!!!!!! It sounds like you just made some break-throughs!

Kady said...

I do think I've made some break- throughs! For some time now, my friend Deanna and I have felt we're on the brink of being able to change our thinking and make ourselves happier. We're aware that no one else can do that for us. Driving homr from the dentist I had some "lightbulb" moments. LOL.