When you’ve read this post, I have a mission for you.
It doesn’t involve gun battles, self-destructing orders or Tom Cruise (sorry).
It’s a way to make your life a little better. A little more pleasant. A little easier.
Read on and discover your mission – should you choose to accept it.
When I moved from the first apartment I owned – the converted top floor of a small semi-detached house, with a kitchen where you could touch both walls at once, and a bedroom that led to a flat-roof balcony overlooked by the Ewell to Stoneleigh slow train – I made sure it was in good condition for the sale.
I fixed the wallpaper that had curled up at the edges. The light switch where the dimmer part had never worked. The handles on the doors that were difficult to turn.
I gave the bedroom a lick of paint to brighten it, and bought a new shower curtain. I painted the front door a handsome black, and got someone in to tidy the front garden.
I made the best of the house.
It looked great, and sold quickly for around the asking price.
How Not To Make My Mistake
But as I did a final walk around of the apartment to say my final goodbyes – it didn’t take long – I had one of those moments.
You know the type.
Where you realise that you just went about things the wrong way.
I’d lived in that flat, happily, for five years. But each of those things that I’d fixed for the new owners had been a niggle for me. A moment or two of annoyance or dissatisfaction each time I’d seen them.
But I hadn’t bothered to fix them for myself.
I’d let them go. They were ‘someday-maybe’ tasks. Except that someday was too late for me to get any benefit or pleasure from them.
And yet, I got through all the tasks combined in a weekend or two. Most of the tasks in less than an hour.
I vowed that day that when I spotted the everyday small things in future that tarnished the joy I felt in life – the stuck drawer, the dead plant, the missing button – I’d fix them.
Every Moment Counts
Because our lives aren’t just made up of the big events. The first dates, the promotion, the holiday to the tropics.
Rather, they’re made up of a much more mundane fabric. A weft and weave of tiny pieces of day-to-day life, from the taste of your morning coffee to your choice of music while in the shower. A kind word from a friend and a moment to yourself with your hands in the hot, soapy water of the washing up. The scent of a lover and the feeling of relief when you finally sit on your sofa at the end of a long day.
You can’t influence every moment. But any metaphorical (or literal!) pebbles in your shoes are worth sorting out to make those small moments more fulfilling. Effortless. Joyous.
For example, most of us make breakfast every day. So why not stop eating your toast from the plate with a crack in, or drinking your coffee from the chipped mug and make the whole experience a fraction nicer?
Mind you, I write all this and realise I’m still not taking my own advice. While reflecting on this post this morning at the gym, I noticed – for something like the twentieth visit in a row – that there’s a little bit of the sole of my trainer shoe that has come loose. Which is surprisingly annoying. And oh so easily fixed.
There are usually plenty of small things that we just ‘put up with’ in our lives.
Have a think – does anything come to mind for you now? Make a note.
The Invisible Elephant In Your Room
Of course, sometimes we put up with things that are a little bigger than a peeling bit of sneaker sole. Like the fact we haven’t had a proper night’s sleep for ages, or our commute is slowly wearing us down.
Often with these issues we have to step back from our lives and look at them with the eyes of a stranger to realize that there’s anything wrong.
It took a year from initial Doctor’s appointment to diagnosis for my Crohns’ Disease. But for several years before that, I had tummy trouble. I’d lived with low level (and later much worse) pain and digestive problems for years.
I lived with it precisely because it didn’t happen overnight. Rather, it crept up on me (one more aspect of habituation), and because, I thought everyone felt like this. It was only when I talked about it with other people they told me no, it was definitely not typical. And fixing that made a huge difference to my health and wellbeing.
Perhaps there are things in your life that you think everybody experiences just like you, that you are ‘coping’ with, which could be fixed if you turned your attention to them. Small things, or even bigger things.
Or is there a small purchase that would make your life better? Like a new battery for something which is no longer working at optimum efficiency? (If you’ve ever taken the battery out of the remote and spun it round and put it back in to save yourself getting up to get a new one from the drawer, you’ll know what I mean here.)
I have a terrible habit of waiting far too long to put gas in my scooter. It means for the last few miles I drive I have a constant low level anxiety as I wonder whether the scooter will actually make it to my destination. I could just put the gas in a few journeys earlier, and I could fix that worry each time.
What do you need to fix?
What small – or big, if you have the energy – fix in your life would increase the quality of your life?
What fix would take away an anxiety?
What fix would remove a low level stressor?
This, then, if your mission over the next week. Get out there – and fix one thing.