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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:



i used to hate washing dishes (Le mom of mine doesn't aLLow me to ask mbak jumanah to wash my underwears&dishes),, for me washing dishes is actuaLLy tiresome, time-consuming, oiLy, icky, you-name-it..

wouLdn’t the worLd be a better pLace if we aLL used disposabLe pLates&cutLeries??!? no,,

it struck my mind one day when i was doing the routine dishwashing after a meaL.. i know that i have to do it,, but why??!? this is a meniaL task and i have better things to do.. great peopLe didn’t have to do this,, why shouLd i even have to bother??!?

i was wrong.. the fact that washing dishes is the most basic task i can do after myseLf, is the fact that makes it important.. my mom is right,, if doing such a quick and easy task bothers me, how wiLL i handLe the Larger and compLex tasks in Life??!? if i don’t put my whoLe attention into cLeaning up the most simpLe task after myseLf, how wiLL i chaLLenge the bigger obstacLes ahead??!?

i’ve met successfuL peopLe who started at the very bottom and they fostered their growth with the seLf-discipLine and heart into everything they do (incLuding the smaLLest, mundane, and easiest task avaiLabLe),, no compLaints.. just doing it weLL one thing at a time,, that’s where they buiLt their character&mentaL habits to succeed..

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