Shoveling snow is definitely one of the best things I’ve ever been addicted to. And as long as I’m not one of those few unfortunate people who dies every year while doing it, it’s probably a lot better for my health…
It is my sincere conviction that snow shoveling is infinitely deeper than removing snow from a walkway. In fact, I contend that shoveling snow is something truly successful people love to do. I’ve even come up with 5 scientifically supported reasons why…
1. Shoveling Snow Enhances Creativity
Shoveling snow is great cardio, and even if you take it easy while you shovel, it’s a seriously decent workout. It is for that reason that shoveling snow enhances creativity… allow me to explain
The Creativity Research Journal details an exhaustive (no pun intended) study during which 60 college students participate in the Torrence Test of Creative Thinking following either moderate exercise or else simply resting. The results strongly suggest that creative potential is enhanced not merely directly after exercising, but for more than two hours following moderate exercise(1).
Shoveling snow engages nearly every muscle in your body (as many people realize all too clearly the following day). Just be sure you focus more on pushing than “lifting” snow, which can cause back pain you won’t want to reckon with Monday morning at your desk.
2. Shoveling Snow Stills A Cluttered Mind
If only for a moment, shoveling snow clears a cluttered mind and gives us the satisfaction and safety of feeling like home. You know that feeling after traveling for a few weeks when you really want to be home? That’s the one.
When you look at ads in the window of your local real estate agent – do you see photos of cluttered, messy homes; or do you see photos of pristine, immaculately kept ones? When you dream of the perfect atmosphere in which to relax, it’s uncluttered and clean.
Airbnb, the behemoth home rental site and 2014’s Company of the Year, coaches their hosts indicating that nobody will book an cluttered and messy unit; they’ll simply scroll right past your listing. They go on to say, “Potential guests may have varying tastes for style and design, but they all universally want clean.”(2)
Why do we long to be in clean spaces? Well, whether we’re conscious of it or not, clean desks and countertops clear our heads. They may even make us healthier, in accordance with research by Indiana University. They found that people with clean houses are measurably healthier than people with messy ones.(3)
There’s also the emotion of taking care of something with pride. Shoveling snow is a way we are stewards of something we own. It is cause for pride. When I first paved my previously graveled driveway, I took immense pride in scraping every last inch of snow off of my precious, heartbreakingly expensive asphalt.
So, too, do I love keeping my interior home tidy. I meticulously clean up each toy after my son before we get into a new one and my dinner table is generally spotless.
The 882 benemoth Bible of keeping a clean house, “Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House” by Cheryl Mendelson notes that keeping a home clean and tidy causes everybody to feel they have a place in that home.
When my husband returned from lunch with a business partner to my meticulously shoveled 1,000 square foot driveway and exited his car without getting a drop of water on his shoes or pants, I felt immense satisfaction. When we had to drag out our garbage cans that night on a smooth asphalt drive versus over weeks of icy, clumpy snow piles, it was a joy as opposed to a treacherous minefield. Keeping our driveway shoveled gives my son a place to bundle up and push his bike around while surrounded by several feet of icy white clouds.
In this way, shoveling snow is magical.
3. Shoveling Show Promotes SMART Goal Practice
Successful people know that shoveling snow has to get done, and they do it with grace. It’s a project that has to get done, so they attack it until every last icicle has been removed. Whether they know it intuitively or cognitively, successful people understand that finishing projects isn’t just a way to achieve goals, but it makes them happier. In fact, Princeton researchers contend that unfinished projects may even correlate with depression!(3)
Shoveling snow with gusto helps successful people engage SMART goal-setting. In case you need a refresher, SMART goals are:
Here’s an example of my personal SMART goal-setting…
My goal in life is to write valuable books that millions of people will read to create better lives for themselves. I dream of writing about dozens of subjects; some with mass appeal and some rather esoteric. Books make you immortal and I endlessly admire prolific writers.
In my life, books are my best friends. They’re always there for me when I’m happy, sad, lonely, bored, under-stimulated, curious, and especially when I’m needing good advice.
But what is my goal without specific, measurable, achievable, realistic tasks that are tied to actual deadlines?
Therefore, every day I write or read for at least an hour. Is my goal SMART? It’s specific: yes. Measurable: if I have a timepiece, yes. Achievable: absolutely. Every day. Realistic: totally. Rain or shine, toddler or sick and cranky husband – I can make this happen. On a timeframe: completely. I do it by the end of every day. When my face hits the pillow: time’s up!
This act of writing everywhere and for every little-known publication I can involves hundreds of small steps that get me closer to my ultimate goal: getting positive messages out to the masses.
Now let’s get back to shoveling snow. Shoveling snow is similar to doing the laundry or returning your emails in a timely fashion. Both of them are immensely important. (Walk around with boogers from my toddler on my lapel? I think not! I’ll do my laundry like a boss, thankyouverymuch.)
Shoveling snow, like any other seemingly innocuous task, is indicative of a general respect for order and the art of finishing projects. If you get the driveway finished when the snow is slushy on a warm afternoon and then get some salt down before it gets icy again, you’ve taken one small bite out of a life of greatness. There are always shows on Netflix, but how many of them are truly going to make your life more satisfying; stimulate creativity as opposed to lethargy; and even help you get a workout?
4. Successful People Shovel Snow Because They Are Disciplined
Above all, successful people have discipline. They know that a healthy lifestyle, diligent work, considerate response time on phone calls and email, and even shoveling snow will get them where they want to go much faster, and with much less drag, than otherwise.
Shoveling snow is not an elective activity. In most cases, it’s either shoveling the driveway… or not having a place to park when you’re home.
But people who LOVE to shovel snow actually ENJOY discipline.
You see, shoveling snow is like using your gym membership, and not only because it’s a great workout. Shoveling snow before you’re buried over your head is an act of willpower. Just like your gym membership, you won’t use it if you’re desperately miserable doing it. But if you relish in making that healthy choice, you supercede the pain of working out.
Small, diligent acts of willpower every day actually make your willpower muscle stronger, according to Dr. Kelly McConigal, author of one of my all-time favorite books, The Willpower Instinct.
McConigal contends that “a short practice that you do every day is better than a long practice you keep putting off to tomorrow.” She details that the willpower muscle can be strengthened with small willpower challenges daily. Maybe your goal is six-pack abs. God help you, but that’s great. Every day you’ll do ten more sit-ups or strength-training exercises until finally, you’re hitting your goal effortlessly. It may be torture to deny yourself refined sugar for months, but believe it or not, you’ll grow accustomed to a sugar-free life and it will eventually no longer feel like deprivation.
People who love to shovel don’t stomp around angrily at the plebeian task. Rather, they embrace the task like a boss. They don’t get on the treadmill and whine every step of the way, but they hum a tune or close their eyes for some deep mediation and get it done. That’s how successful people tackle otherwise unpleasant tasks. It’s one more activity that gets them closer to their goals. And therefore, they love it.
5. Shoveling Snow Is Deeply Meditative
Did you ever see the House of Cards episode with the Tibetan Mandala? Several Tibetan Monks construct an ornate design with millions of grains of colored sand.
The Sand Mandala is believed to purify it’s artists and serves as a blessing to onlookers. A respected teacher chooses the specific, ornate mandala that will be created, and then monks chant and meditate while constructing it. What happens next is heart-wrenching and beautiful: the monks consecrate the mandala and then… destroy it by sweeping it away into flowing water. What?! All that gorgeous work literally down the drain?! Dayum! I hope they at least get some shots for Instagram!
Why do monks destroy mandalas?
Well, the reason for eliminating their beautiful, hard-won artwork from the world is to commemorate the changing nature of existence. This is also why shoveling snow is so deeply powerful and meditative.
You see, when I shovel snow, I often marvel at the fact that after all these hours of back-breaking work, one sunny afternoon could make all my work for naught. Life and everything in it is temporary, just like this snow. Life and everything in it is temporary, just like the intricate, beautiful, hard-won Tibetan mandala. We deal with life as best we can while it’s heaping piles on top of us, but we remember that one day, for better or worse, none of this will exist any more.
Today while shoveling I considered a certain broken relationship in my life. For a half a decade I’ve devoted half my waking hours to this relationship in some way. I mediate on the sweeping, shoveling, and melting of the snow when the seasons change. In the same way, this relationship will have times of winter and summer. In the same respect, I meditate on the joyful, wonderful things I have. Like my son. Like our home. Like our delightful, playful poodle Enzo. All these things will one day pass away. And for today, I’m going to joyfully soak in each one of them.