Why You Should Make the Gratitude Switch… And How to Do It

Your life is full of obligations. You have obligations at home like caring for family and your partner, paying the bills, cooking, cleaning, and paying taxes. You have obligations at work: showing up on time, following the boss’ orders, reaching quotas and meeting deadlines.

 

Your doctor may have obligations for you too like: eat less fat, drink more water, stop smoking or get more exercise. Then there are the obligations you put on yourself: I should get more sleep, I should work less, I should read more etc.

 

Is it any wonder, given this way of life, that we often feel overwhelmed, frustrated and tired? When we live under the tyranny of obligations, our lives can feel impossibly difficult. Burn out and exhaustion are an inevitable consequence.

Some people cope with the pressure of their obligations by trying to avoid them. They get divorces, quit their jobs or try to avoid paying their bills. They hope that by pretending the obligations aren’t there, they will disappear. That tactic may work for a while, but ultimately issues that are not dealt with, come back worse than before.

What if we changed the way we approached life’s obligations? Instead of avoiding them, or trying to rid ourselves of them, what if we embraced them? What if we decided in fact, that they were not obligations, but opportunities and privileges? How would that change the way we approached them?

I exercise regularly. I do it because I know it is critical to my physical and mental health and most of the time, I enjoy it. But there are days when I don’t feel like doing it. There are days when exercise feels like an obligation. This was especially true when I was doing long distance running and training for marathons and long, early morning runs, felt more like a job than a hobby. They certainly didn’t seem fun.

I can’t remember exactly when it happened. If it was a moment or if it evolved over a period of time, but I realized that I had the power to turn an obligation into an opportunity and a privilege and all it took was a very simple change of language.

 

When we have a task or job that must be done, we always talk about it with the same words; we say: “I have to”. I have to go to work. I have to go to the gym. I have to finish the project. I have to pay the bills. Those words, “have to” imply obligation. They frame everything that comes after them with a sense of outside force. We lose our sense of control and feel forced against our will to do this or that.

 

What if, instead of saying “have to” you started to say “get to”. I get to go to work today (realizing many people would love to have a job and do not). I “get to” go to the gym today (appreciating that many would like to be healthy and strong enough to be able to exercise.). I get to pay the bills and care for my family (knowing that people who are alone would love to have a family to care for).

 

Making this very simple switch in language can have a massive effect on how you view your life. When you change this language, your life can go from a series of things you are required to do, to a series of things that you are fortunate to be able to do.

 

The other benefit of thing switch is that you are not only freed from the sense of obligation, but filled with a deep sense of gratitude. If you’ve experienced this in your life, you know what I’m talking about. So start today. Every time you catch yourself saying “have to” stop. Rephrase what you were going to say using “get to”. I promise you it will make a difference.