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Stimulation and How I Learned to Love Dishwashing

When I bought a house ten years ago, I also bought place settings for six and silverware for twelve. Then I developed a minor fascination with bone China and bought settings for eight. I probably had four dozen glasses. About once a month or so, all of these dishes would be piled up in and around my sink, begging to be cleaned. I didn't have a lot of dinner parties-- I just hated doing dishes so much that I'd procrastinate until washing became a full day event. Those days were some of my least favorite.

A few days ago, I was doing the dishes for the six of us that ate dinner. There were pots, pans, plates, serving utensils, and glasses. The works. For the first time ever, I found myself enjoying doing the dishes. I could appreciate the warm water on my hands and the shine in the pot when it was clean. When I washed everything that wasn't dishwasher safe, I started handwashing the things that could have just gone in the dishwasher. It wasn't fun exactly, but it was so enjoyable that I actually found myself looking forward to washing the dishes the next day.

Work has become the same way. I don't love all aspects of it equally, but when I wake up and know I have a tough day ahead of me, I feel great. Pant of it is that I know the day will end with a nice chunk of progress made, but most of it is the actual act of working. I love it. I can't wait to face off with a bug that's been bothering me for weeks, trace it through all of our code, and fix it. It's relaxing, like an internal Swedish massage.

My friend Constance wrote me an email today. She was talking about me with her sister and some friends, describing my hyperfocus on work, learning, and other productive things. An excerpt from her email:

How to be Happy: How SIBS are Keeping you down.

On Ideas

So many people these days aren't happy, and frankly I don't know why anymore. Maybe its the paradox of being active, they don't want to work, and thus never get involved or immersed in something, making them become jaded and feel empty. Or maybe, its the much more common case of what I call SIBS=Self Imposed Bullshit.

One day when I was young I remember reading somewhere that a doctor found that 30 to 50% of all patients at a hospital weren't really sick, but rather they were "placeboing" themselves into being sick. In other words, by taking a small belief that they were sick and empowering the emotions and thought processes related with being sick, they actually became sick.

That is absurd, and frankly, I think one doesn't have to go to a hospital to see how SIBS is affecting a vast majority of people and how others use SIGS, self-imposed good shit, to live amazingly happy lives. The first thing one has to understand is that striving for or wanting happiness is fraught with problems for a variety of reasons:

Striving for happiness assumes you aren't or can't be happy right now; furthermore if you attach happiness to something, say money, family, or travel, you "sell out" your ability to be happy unless said criteria are reached.

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