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Turn Everyday Chores Into a Meaningful Daily Practice

“When you sweep the garden, you are sweeping the mind.”

-Zen saying

wood handled broom bottom up against a white wall

Life is full of monotony

It is not always easy to take joy in the repetitive task of keeping a home.

I will be the first to admit that I can get annoyed picking up the same mess day after day, repeatedly cycling through the same laundry, dishes and chores.

You would never know how often I really do sweep the garden (my kitchen floor) as it is perpetually getting dirty.

Things you have to do each day = everyday acts

Life is full of these groundhog day moments. All of the things that you simply cannot help but repeat day after day after day, {like waking up, making breakfast, cleaning up, etc.} are there waiting to be done again, nearly as soon as you’ve finished them.

But hidden within these seemingly insignificant acts of everyday life, are such beautiful opportunities to create meaning and purpose in our lives.

Everyday acts + intention = daily practice

When seen as a solitary chore, something as simple as sweeping the floors can become a Sisyphean task. But when combined with a positive intention, these household duties are transformed into much more than a line item on a list of things to do.

A daily practice of sweeping the floors presents a pocket of time that you can come back to day after day. If you make the effort to be intentional with that time, you can build something over weeks, months and years.

When we are able to be mindful in times that we could easily be on autopilot, we can harness the power of intention and turn mundane moments into building blocks towards a better future.

handheld broom and dust pan against white wall

Everyday adds up over time

While these small everyday acts don’t always feel meaningful in the moment, over time they can mean more than anything else. They are having a compound effect on your life.

It can feel mundane to sweep the kitchen floor, again, but it is in these pockets of monotony that we are able to build true meaning and purpose into our lives.

If I sweep the floor each day and let it annoy me, I will fill myself with resentment. If I sweep the floor each day and combine it with a positive intention, I will fill myself with powerful potential.

A daily practice provides potential for growth

When you change something from a chore into a practice, you allow yourself to get better at it over time.

I can’t say I necessarily need to improve my sweeping skills, but when I come back to my broom each day I set an intention to practice presence and gratitude - which seem to always require some effort.

Neurons that fire together, wire together - and so now I will usually just fall into a zen state as I reach for the broom. But even on the days when it comes easily, I stay devoted to my practice because its also true that if you don't use it, you lose it.

If I am sweeping, I am focusing my attention on being grateful for the moment I am in.

Intentions paired with tasks

Having this kind of dedicated practice to come back to each day is quite easy to establish when it is paired with something you already do everyday no matter what.

By combining an otherwise insignificant moment of your day, like sweeping, with a more meaningful intention of focus, like feeling grateful, you invest in your present and future mental health -- in a sustainable way.

Here are a few intentions that I have found to help ease the malaise of repetitive acts and some ideas for the kind of daily practice that they can become.

list of chore, intention and practice combination ideas

Start your own daily practice

The bottomline is simple - even the most mundane moments in life have the potential to be life changing. It is all just about being intentional with your time.

Choose one daily act, maybe brushing your teeth or getting the mail, and commit to dedicating that time slot to focusing on a positive intention.

Even if it is just one minute a day to start, pausing to be grateful, find joy, make best use of your time, reset your priorities, gain clarity, be curious or simply be present - will shift your life day by day in profound ways.