How Can You Take Joy From Joyless Tasks?

Every day, we are faced with things we don’t want to do. Washing the dishes. Shopping for groceries. Doing laundry. Preparing for a work presentation.

We do these things because they need to be done in order for the rest of our life to go smoothly. The dishes need to be washed so that there are clean dishes to eat off of later, and so that there aren’t dirty dishes in the sink. We do laundry so that we have clean clothes to wear. In order to get that raise, we prepare the presentation.

The you in the present does these things so that the you of the future will have a better life.

But the fact that we are doing things that are done due to necessity and not because you actually enjoy them means that life is filled with drudge work. These tasks don’t bring you happiness. They don’t bring you joy. But they have to be done.

How can we make these mundane, unpleasant tasks ones we actually enjoy? What makes a boring moment a pleasant one? How can we get the most out of life, and appreciate all that we do, even things that are otherwise dreary? How can you take joy from joyless tasks?

Related questions: Is happiness the most important purpose in life? How can we maintain wonder? How can we appreciate life more? What are you doing to make the world a better place?

How Are You Underappreciated?

To be underappreciated can be discouraging. You work hard to accomplish a particular goal, and very few people even notice. If anyone does at all.

There are many ways a person can be underappreciated. Your spouse might not appreciate what you do around the house. Children, since they are just learning, often do not appreciate their world, or what goes into it.

Your friends may not notice what you do to make life better. At work, a boss may not appreciate what you bring to your job or your team. Society at large can be indifferent to actions that an individual takes, however noble they might be.

You can even be underappreciated by yourself. People are often stronger than they give themselves credit for, or more competent or smarter than they realize.

Even if you don’t do kind or generous acts just to receive recognition or acknowledgement, it can be demoralizing to constantly be ignored or taken for granted. Everything you do shouldn’t need affirmation, but tasks can more easily be borne if you have some occasional words of encouragement.

It isn’t a good idea to always play the victim. On the other hand, it is important to recognize the good things you do, and to make sure others recognize them too. It is important to have healthy relationships, whether those relationships are with family members, co-workers, or your community.

What do you do that others don’t recognize? How are you underappreciated? How can you get others to better recognize things they aren’t currently seeing? Are there ways that you underappreciate others?

Related questions: Why do we put up with unhappiness? What does it mean to be thankful? When do you need inspiration? How can we appreciate life more?

What Is Beauty?

There are many things that can be considered beautiful. For example, you might consider a painting a thing of great beauty. A particular song, a pair of shoes, a deer in the woods, an elegant theorem — all might be considered beautiful.

But what exactly does that mean?

Studies have been done where people rate the attractiveness of faces shown to them. As it turns out, people tend to prefer a face that is more symmetrical. Why? The presumption is that symmetry denotes health, which means a good candidate for successful mating. What we find beautiful is encoded in our genes as an evolutionary strategy.

Or is it? It seems that notions of beauty change over time. In the middle ages, women as depicted in paintings tended to be larger than the wafer-thin models that stride the catwalks.

Are we simply programmed by our society as to what constitutes beauty? The people we see in magazines and on television… are they in our media because they are beautiful, or do we consider them to be beautiful because they are in our media?

Similarly, we can consider the art world. Imagine a particular painting is prominently displayed in a museum, or is sold for a large sum of money, or is presented in an art history class. Might we not start to assume it has great beauty?

Some people describe ideas as being beautiful. But what does beauty mean in that case? Does it simply mean that it is useful? Some might describe a theory that explains a complicated idea in a few short words or equations as elegant. Is “beauty” in this case just a synonym for “simple”? And do we mean the same thing when talking about art, or ideas, or faces?

What is beauty?

Related questions: Why do we like what we like? How much of our thoughts are our own? How important is the artist to art?