My kids hate doing dishes. Probably more than any other single daily activity. They avoid it, moan about it, skimp on it (so they have to be called back to do it right), and drag it out sometimes for hours. It’s a painful thrice daily event. But I refuse to give in. Yes, I could do it better and faster, but we are all have responsibilities, and they haven’t volunteered recently to step in and file the taxes for me.
Last week after a meal, when Samson was a big grumpier about wiping the counters (horrors!) than usual, I thought back to my dish-washing days. We had four kids and after every meal we each did one job. One cleared the table, another loaded the dishwasher, a third wiped the counters, and the last swept the floor. My dad had made a little chart that we followed, alternating chores with each meal.
We didn’t love doing dishes any more than the next group of kids, but our cleaning up still seemed to go quickly and efficiently. What was the difference?
My sister and I sang through our dishes. She is four years old than I am and she taught me songs she learned at Girls’ Camp. We sang funny songs and melancholy songs. There were rounds and obligatos. My sister taught me to sing harmony — all while doing dishes — when I was still in elementary school.
The simple act of adding joyful singing to drudgery changed the mood and added speed and efficiency. I suspect doing what we can to make every activity fun, happy, joyful will probably make it better as well.
I went on to sing in musical, sing in pageants, and major in musical theater in college (before switching to business). As an adult I taught voice lessons and most of my kids sing. My sister is in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. And it all started in the kitchen.
If you’re ever going to learn to be joyful you’ve got to do it in the middle of the problems of life.
It takes no effort or strength of character to be happy when Publisher’s Clearing House drops off a check for ten million dollars. But to find joy in drudgery, difficulty, or the mundane is an active choice for a better quality of life.
Infuse joy into every part of your day and bring joy to others as well.
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