Our days can be filled with more “must-do” than “want-to-do” tasks. After all, someone has to grocery shop, pay bills and earn a living. And while we might choose different activities if we could, appreciating even the most menial chores can lighten our mood and that of those around us.

Recently, I realized I’d fallen into a bad habit: I’d mutter, “Just get through this” most of the day. I’d do it while stuck in traffic, cooking, cleaning and at work. I’d sunk so deeply into resenting all the “have-tos” that I’d been wishing my life away.

Photo by St. Mattox, Freeimages.com

The problem with wanting to quickly complete the daily routine meant that I spent most of every day internally griping. But it was more than that. The constant negativity that I harbored inside zapped my energy, so when I did have Me Time, I couldn’t really enjoy it.

I’d essentially stopped living, because I kept looking to the future.

When was I going to savor the blessing of living and appreciate the gifts God has given me?

Then, I listened to a presentation by Eckhart Tolle, spiritual thought leader and international best-selling author. He mentioned that he wouldn’t eat food if it were prepared by someone who resented making it. Tolle didn’t want to ingest a meal infused with negativity.

That reminded me of Dr. Masaro Emoto’s water molecule experiment (see my post, “We’re All Connected“). He illustrated how water changed form under a microscope when it was inflicted with different emotion-laden words.

I found it sad that I couldn’t remember the last meal I’d prepared where I hadn’t resented doing it. I started to think about all the misery I dumped into our home’s atmosphere and work, even if people weren’t aware of it.

My mental state poisoned me and those around me. I had to shift my focus.

I learned to pay attention to my mindset, and as soon as I noticed the grouch emerging, I’d tell it to go away.

Then, I’d engage my senses. If I was cooking, I’d inhale the fresh basil I was chopping and take a moment to enjoy its bouquet. I’d really feel the warm water on my hands when I rinsed off the soap. I’d imagine how good dinner would taste once it was served.

And, I’d count my blessings. When I’d be glum about going to work, I’d remember what it was like to be so sick that I couldn’t hold a job and how unproductive it had felt to lie in bed all day. I expressed gratitude for having a flexible job, where I can be creative and work with supportive people. And thankful that I have the health and resources to be able to cook, drive and hold a job.

It’s appreciating all the “I can dos,” instead of the “I don’t want to dos” that gives life its richness.