Our lives can’t always be a series of engaging activities, but we can turn even mundane maintenance activities into interesting challenges.
For instance, I used to intensely dislike grocery shopping even though I do like cooking. After reading Finding Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, I decided I could challenge myself to get the shopping done as quickly and efficiently as possible. I have worked out the best evening to do it (Wednesdays). I note the time when I arrive in the parking lot. I have a shopping list organized the same way the store is organized. And I have a failsafe way of remembering to take my cloth bags into the store. Before I get out of my car, I spring the trunk lock because I am going to put my handbag in the trunk (after removing my change purse and shopping list). And there with the trunk open, I pick up those cloth bags.
Once inside the store, I follow a route that will take me through as quickly as possible. While I’m waiting at the checkout, I entertain myself by looking at what other people have in their carts and feeling superior that mine contains more healthy items. I check my time and give myself a cheer when I have loaded everything into the trunk of the car and I am ready to leave. I’ve turned grocery shopping from a dreary duty into an interesting challenge.
While I am doing a routine task, my brain is engaged in working toward a goal of finishing the task as efficiently as possible and I am happier. This may not be everyone’s approach to grocery shopping but, because I found it so dreary, the techniques I came up with made it an opportunity to find flow and keep my brain challenged.