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The Means are the Ends

The Means are the Ends

The practice of mindfulness means that we learn to treat every means activity as an ends activity. When we brush our teeth, we aren’t just brushing to get the tooth brushing over. We brush to enjoy the brushing, to be present to the cool water and the minty zing of the toothpaste, enjoying our breathing and the activity of our hands. Commuting to work is no longer just to get to work, but is also about taking our time and enjoying the driving. Eating our breakfast isn’t just to get good nutrition and to provide energy for the day, but to enjoy our breakfast.

In theory, this isn’t about doing things more slowly—or, at least, there is no strict necessity to do so. In practice, however, doing it slowly may help. If we do things at the same speed as usual, we will likely get pulled into doing things just to get them done.

Learn to change your self talk from,”Now I have to make the bed,” to “now I am enjoying making the bed.” “Now I have to drive to work,” becomes “now I enjoy the driving,” enjoying the comfort of our automobiles, perhaps the music playing, in touch with the weather, the sky, the other drivers and cars, in harmony with the traffic, not fighting.

We tend to view the majority of what we do as just things we are required to do so we can enjoy something more rewarding later. But if we live that way, we lose all those moments, and we probably won’t be very much present to the activities we are looking forward to either. But approaching ends activities as means activities restores life to all our moments. It makes life available to us and us available to life.

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