Could the secret to happiness lie in a shower squeegee?
My husband and I have just built a house. It’s beautiful. And I often pinch myself thinking how lucky I am to live in such a gorgeous place in such a beautiful part of the world!
But because everything is so shiny and new, the hurricane (that’s me!) has to be on her best behaviour not to mark the fresh white walls, scratch the wooden floors or damage the (with the benefit of hindsight) highly impractical white stone bathroom vanity.
And what’s more, thanks to a self imposed rule by Mr M, after every shower I now have to painstakingly wipe down every surface (walls, door and floor) with a rubber squeegee. And THEN (yep there’s more!) dry off any residual water with a towel!
I do get it. I mean, I know why Mr M is so fastidious. There is something deeply satisfying about showering with pristinely clear glass and knowing you have full control over keeping it that way.
For someone whose top 5 favourite things includes taking relaxing showers, the idea of crouching down on my hands and knees, towel in hand and drying the floor is sometimes enough to put me off the idea of even showering. And it’s definitely enough to make me rethink my shower schedule to make sure I shower right before Mr M gets in - so he gets tasked with the squeegee-ing!
And for the first few weeks in our new place I felt deeply resistant to the idea of compromising what is essentially a self care regime for me and turning it into a daily chore!
But then I had a brainwave - I’ll turn it into a mindfulness activity so I’m killing two birds with one stone!
So here’s what I do.
As I’m squeegee-ing I bring my full attention to the task at hand. I notice the rivulets of water running down the glass. I notice my body in space: my arm moving up and down, my knees bending, and how my body feels as it moves. I notice the sounds of the squeegee against the glass and the water rushing down the drain. The feel of the soft towel in my hands. The fresh smell of the shower: body wash tinged with clean water and shampoo.
And I also notice my thoughts. I notice the lightning quick speed at which my mind switches from the task at hand onto: what I’ll have for breakfast; complaining about the bloody squeegeeing; or formulating a blog post in my head. (Every single one of these thoughts flashed through my mind this morning as I squeegeed AND planned this very blog post in my head!).
And each time I notice my thoughts wander, I (as non-judgmentally as I can) direct my attention back to the task at hand. Back to the present moment. Back to the squeegee-ing!
And this is how it goes most days. I focus on squeegee-ing. My mind wanders. I re-focus on squeegee-ing. My mind wanders. I step out of the (very clean and dry) shower and realise my mind has been wandering for most of the task. And I bring my attention back to the present moment.
And that’s the work. The constant bringing back of my wandering mind. And it’s constant I tell ya. My mind wanders. All. The. Time! It is a slippery little critter.
But the more I’m able to integrate mindful moments - like shower squeegee-ing into my day, the more I’m able to spontaneously notice the present moment and spend more time in the now.
And the happier I am.
Because, did you know, that when our bodies and minds are in the same place, when what we’re doing and what were thinking about are the same thing, we are happier? This cool study showed that people were happier when they gave their full attention to a task, even if the task was an unenjoyable one (like shower squeegee-ing)!
So that's my morning mindfulness routine. Do you have one? If not, what routine and possibly boring task can you transform into a productive mindfulness exercise? Maybe it's folding the washing? Or waiting in line? Driving to work?
I'd love to hear what you choose and how you find it!