What a four hour ironing marathon taught me

This morning I had planned to sleep in. Between my tossing and turning and dreams about surviving a flood and getting abducted by aliens, I was tired. As the sun came up I laid there for a while as all of the things I was excited about getting done today filed into my head; write some blog posts, figure out my social media scheduler, pitch an editor on a story. I was rearranging and prioritizing everything when Matt came in to take a shower and get dressed. It wasn't long before I heard the swoosh of hanger after hanger. My stomach sank a little. I had forgotten to iron the shirts in his closet like he asked me to do. I had said, no problem, but I got wrapped up and he was late for a meeting. He managed to find one and said, "hey, can you iron some shirts today? I'm out." I assured him I would. Part of the reason I had put it off is that I loathe anything domestic. Who doesn't? The other part was that I knew this was no small task. Our closet was beyond full. His shirts were crammed together and even the ones we had dry cleaned needed ironing again. Sigh. I got up and decided to just get it done. I went through them one by one and when I had finished I had about 25 shirts. That's more things than I had ever ironed at one time. I didn't want to do it, but I decided I would do a little experiment. What if I reframed the task completely? What if instead of focusing on how much I didn't like it, I focused on the fact that Matt needed it done and I wanted to do something nice for him? So, I put on some music and started ironing. A strange thing happened. I actually didn't mind it. As I ironed, I thought a lot about what I wanted to get done later in the day and how getting this task done was actually fuel for me doing everything else. My 'everything else' was a sort of reward for doing this first. I thought about how happy he would be to have ironed shirts and that made me smile.

Our brains are automatically hard wired to look for the negative in things. Society reinforces it everywhere you look and it can be hard to stay in a positive place as a result. But by reframing even the smallest aspects of our lives to look to the positive instead of the negative, it sets off a chain reaction that creates new habits and actually modifies our brain chemistry. In my experiment, If I had negative thoughts start to creep in I just took a deep breath and said, "I choose to let this go". It would shift me back into the positive space and gave me more energy to keep going. So next time you find yourself faced with a task you don't like. try this. You might be surprised at how much easier it is to complete the task and you might actually feel good while doing it.

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