Monday’s Meditation: On What You Have To Do Vs. What You Want To Do
People are always saying to me, “I have to keep that.”
“Oh that? My mom brought this back for me from Argentina, so I have to keep it.”
“This was my grandmother’s, so I have to keep it.”
“My husband gave this to me on our anniversary and I kind of hate it but I have to keep it.”
“You do?” I’ll ask. “You have to? How’s that work?”
“I mean, you know how it is,” they’ll say. “I just have to. It’s one of those things. Can we move on?”
“Okay, sure,” I’ll say, all no-skin-off-my-nose-style. “Just as long as you and I both acknowledge you don’t have to keep anything.”
Sometimes I make more of a scene about it than others; picking your battles is as much Live Simply 101 as picking your belongings, after all.
But make no mistake about it: there is no more subtly disempowering phrase we’re all walking around saying with a terrible frequency than “I have to.”
Not only is it disempowering: it’s a myth that disconnects you from owning your life. (Yes, really!)
If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you don’t actually have to do anything. Your life is propelled not by your obligations or your being forced but by your desires.
There is nothing you do because you have to.
Driving carpool? Don’t have to do that. You could phone it in if you so chose.
Walking the dog? Don’t have to do that. You’re free to let that canine pee all over the rug if you really preferred that to moving.
Picking up your dry cleaning, staying late at work, eating, drinking, calling your mom, doing the dishes, washing your hair, washing your mom’s hair–you have to do approximately none of those things.
“I really don’t want to pay my taxes, though. That’s one thing I have to do.”
Nope. You might not want to pay your taxes, but fundamentally that act is nonetheless driven by a desire on your part: you want to avoid punishment. You want to be an upstanding member of society. You want to have your affairs in order. You want to be a person of integrity. Thus, you choose to pay your taxes when you might evade them.
Your choosing to take action in order to avoid the consequences of your not taking action is still a purposeful choice.
Understanding how your life is driven by your desire rather than by outside dictation is the difference between resenting your life and relishing in it.
Living within the proverbial myth that you have to implies that you are merely fulfilling the requirements set by someone else. It suggests you believe you are not in control of your life, that you do not realize the opportunity that is yours to own it–claim it and every single movement that is a part of it.
The next time you nonchalantly say, “I have to…” pause for a moment. Ask yourself, “Do I, really? Is someone forcing me? Is there a gun to my head or is my liberty at stake?”
And if the answer is no, which I’m willing to bet it is, correct yourself, even if it’s only to yourself.
I want to.
I choose to.
I am living freely and my life is my choice and my responsibility.
Once you can see that much clearly, you’re only one step away from the iteration that unlocks all the magic there is:
I get to.
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