There are many benefits of doing chores. I wrote in an earlier article that convenience and ease are a disease. Our society continually produces all types of ‘labour-saving’ products, services and technologies that are intended to make our lives easier (as well as a good profit for the producer) – the problem is that easier and better are not the same thing.
Chores ground you
Paying people to do chores means you are missing a trick. The benefits of doing chores include being grounded. This is what chores do, they literally bring you down to earth, because they are direct and concrete expressions of human life. Too many people live in an abstract reality, with their heads in the clouds. They pay people to do concrete work, because they have more money than time. Being time poor is due to the fact that they are busy doing paid work that often has less true meaning than doing chores. This is a perverse state of affairs.
Reality is satisfying
One of the best things about owning a dog, if not the best thing, is walking it. Dogs love walks! Dogs want to do ‘chores’. Walking your dog is beneficial for you, as well as your dog, both mentally and physically. If you are able-bodied, but you generally don’t have the time or inclination to walk your dog, then why own one?
Likewise, the best dish is the one you cooked yourself; unless you are a terrible cook, of course. In which case, I have to add that there is only one way to become a better cook and that is by cooking.
I like doing the dishes, I find it therapeutic and a good time to think and deliberate on the day. There are many chores I don’t like but I still feel better for having done them.
I also often think that people make extra work for themselves by having huge houses with all the contents that aren’t needed but still need to be cleaned and maintained.
There is enormous satisfaction from the displeasure of good work. I think it is good for people’s souls to do ‘bread labour’. This is an idea that relates production (i.e. work) with consumption. By doing gardening and other physical chores to ‘earn’ your food you have a natural and direct connection with what sustains you.
Types of self-sufficiency
Self-sufficiency is when you directly provide for your own basic needs, without outside help or control. When it comes to work, I think self-sufficiency as has three levels:
- Chores are the fundamental, or primary, level of self-sufficiency and they include cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, personal care, child care, caring for family and pets.
- The secondary level is generally known as DIY (do-it-yourself) and includes growing your own food; foraging, hunting and fishing; home maintenance and renovations; making and mending clothes; woodwork, metalwork and other craftwork;
- The tertiary level of self-sufficiency is when you work for yourself to earn money. This could be as an artisan or craftsperson, tradesman, professional, artist, writer, consultant and so on.
Fortitude and will-power and the benefits of doing chores
To do things for yourself is to use your fortitude. Fortitude is one of the four cardinal virtues. The definition of fortitude is mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously. Fortitude is not easy – but it is very rewarding. Anything hard-won is all the sweeter for it. Fortitude takes will power and we feel most alive when we are using our wills. I think one of the huge problems with the modern world is that convenience and instant gratification (or hedonism) have undermined fortitude. Fortitude is a requisite for eudaimonic happiness and as Nietzsche wrote it is the hard way that provides subtle and profound joys that you can’t get any other way.
When fortitude is weakened people become more helpless. They will give up easily, or not even start in the first place. Convenience and ease atrophy our wills. By using our wills to benefit ourselves, and our loved ones, in some concrete practical way is as rewarding as it is dignifying.
Chores further self-respect
To live in a clean and tidy house is to show respect for yourself; it is a type of self-care. To directly care for yourself and others is to create a human bond.
In former times, before the advent of the modern welfare state, all welfare was performed within local communities. Often, in the western world, it was the concern of the church parish to care for the infirm and elderly. Times were tough, and people needed to help each other to get by. These sort of interactions were face-to-face with people you personally knew.
However, with the erosion of church and community engagement and the growth of economic market forces, welfare has fallen mainly upon the State. The problem with welfare from the State is that it is monetised and impersonal. The point is that welfare is not just about money, although money is clearly important.
Perhaps what people need more is an actual helping hand, a bit of friendly company or simply something to do; this is where fellowship and community support come in. It brings people together in a spirit of goodwill and relatedness that not only supports people’s physical well-being but also, and often more importantly, people’s emotional well-being.
This is similar to the difference between the dignity of helping yourself and your family, or paying someone else to do it.
The benefits of doing chores
Good habits and chores are the foundation for a good life, but maybe not an easy life. I always like Jim Rohn’s advice “do not wish it was easier, wish you were better.