Think of this.
If I clean my chandelier because my aunt is coming and I’m afraid she’ll criticize my housekeeping, or say something like, “I don’t know why I even gave you that chandelier. You never clean it. You don’t appreciate the things I give you,” then why am I cleaning it?
Fear of guilt.
Fear of criticism.
Either way, it’s still fear.
If I’m doing it out of fear of being criticized and/or guilted, I become prone to being critical of her criticisms and guilting. I become hyper aware of the criticisms and therefore the thing I fear becomes reality.
If I clean the chandelier because my friends are coming over, and I am seeking their adoration and admiration, then why I am doing it?
Could it be out of fear of not being special?
Maybe it’s of not having some sort of prestige and power in my circle.
Hence, in a sense I’m doing it out of pride. But what is pride? I mean what is it, really?
I think maybe pride is ultimately the fear of looking bad or not being “special” enough. Pride is the need to feel superior to others in some way. In today’s culture, we could call it a streak of narcissism. Narcissism, either overt or covert, is basically–fear of being unimportant, of not being “enough.”
If I clean it because I’m worried that there are germs living on the chandelier and I might get sick, then I am also doing it out of a fear of dying.
But what if I clean it because it makes me happy to see light shining through clear, clean glass?
What if I truly appreciate the clear crystal and shimmer?
What if I clean the chandelier just because I personally love a clean chandelier, kind of how I love to hang prisms in the windows and see rainbows all over the floor?
Then I am no longer cleaning it out of fear.
Now, I’m cleaning it out of appreciation.
And somehow, I feel joy in the cleaning. It’s the same amount of work, but it doesn’t “feel” like work. It feels peaceful, because I’m thinking about how beautiful it will look when I’m done. I’m thinking of how much pleasure I will feel when I look at it. It is no longer a menial task but a labor of love and an act of creating. I’m envisioning the pure light shining through the clear glass and I get happy thinking about it.
If I clean it because I think I have to do it, because I’m afraid of being criticized or guilted or not being special or of germs, then there is no joy for me in the act of cleaning it and the act feels like a burden.
It feels like work.
Obviously, this post isn’t really about cleaning chandeliers. It’s about motivations.
Sometimes, it’s in examining why we do the little things, like cleaning a chandelier, that we discover our reasons for doing bigger things and in making these discoveries, the little things in our lives become the big things. I will henceforth find myself asking, “Why are you really doing this?”