When you’re feeling resentful or angry about something, it’s worth stopping to consider why.
This morning, I woke up to a dirty kitchen, and as I do most mornings, I started cleaning it up. Washing dishes, wiping counters, putting dishes away, and so on. I do this a lot.
And I found myself feeling resentful. Why didn’t other people clean this up? Why am I the one who has to clean it up all the time?
And I watched my resentment.
And I saw at its root a feeling of entitlement, that everyone should do things the way I want them to do it. A feeling of wanting to control others. A feeling that others should be what I want them to be. I’m at the center of the universe, and everyone else is a supporting character in my story.
Of course, that’s not true. They are their own people, and don’t want to be controlled, and want to live how they want to live. I’m only a supporting character in their lives.
So I could have tried to force them to act my way. Better: I could teach them to clean up after themselves, to pitch in and be good members of our family.
But what I did instead this morning is assumed that I am a servant, and that it is my job to clean the kitchen. It’s my job to serve my family.
The effect is that I released the idea that they should serve me, that they should do things my way. And instead I did the work without complaint, lovingly in the service of my loved ones.
I’ll still teach them, because that’s my job too, to serve them by showing them the best ways to live life. But I won’t do it with the resentment, only with the love.
Make It Your Job was originally posted on Zen Habits on 11/11/13.