Shoveling Snow

Lucas A. Davidson
2 min readDec 1, 2023

Daily Meditation 642–12/1/2023

Where I come from, we have an old adage. We tend to get snow — a lot of snow. Some weeks of winter, there’s snow up to our waist. Other weeks, it’s past your waist and also -20f (or colder). Sometimes, it snows for days on end.

There’s a lot of people who live here who, incredibly, complain endlessly about winter.

“The sun sets at 4pm. I love going to work in the dark in the morning and clocking out to go home in the darkness.”
“I hate how cold it is and I hate scraping ice off of my car!”

“I hate shoveling snow! It’s endless!”

The adage goes along the lines of:

You can be happy and shovel the snow or you can be mad and shovel the snow, but you’re going to have the same amount of snow.

Isn’t that a beautifully Stoic and Eudaimonic way of thinking about things? That’s a perfect example of Perceptual Control as we talk about in the book and these Daily Meditations. Someone can be nasty to you, but it’s only when you decide it’s nasty that it, well, actually is nasty. When someone calls you a “faggot,” you don’t have to feel anything at all over it — you can choose to not perceive it as negative. You can choose to laugh or agree or be mad. Or you can choose to feel nothing.

And so it is with snow shoveling and all things in life. There will ever be unpleasant tasks like shoveling (or mowing or cleaning or bathing) that we hate doing or are bored to tears over. But, they also afford us a behavioral opportunity. The shoveling or cleaning is a prime time for us to reflect and think. We can enjoy the other parts of the “now” during it — the crisp, crunching snow. Or, the wispy powdery snow. We can marvel at just how many types of snow there are. The birds and squirrels in the trees and what they must think of you. We can be grateful for the physical wellness enough to get out and shovel!

In reperceiving these mundane chores (or unperceiving, even), we change the feeling from a negative one to just, well, anything else. Nothing, maybe. Or — in the case of gratitude — you get to shovel. You’re healthy enough to get to. You have a place to live to shovel out. And so on.

You’ve got a gift with perception. Be sure you manage it well. And “manage” is the exact word!

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These are distillations from my coming book “YouDaimonia: the Philosophy of Human Flourishing.”

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Lucas A. Davidson

Daily philosophical meditations on Eudaimonia. These are distillations from the forthcoming book on the topic. Comments or jobs: lucas@multistatewide.com