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Shift your Perspective From “I have to” to “I get to”

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Responsibilities can feel weighty, but this practice can help to awaken and strengthen a sense of good fortune, compassion, and gratefulness.

Why shift your perspective?

Picture this…. I was vacuuming the house and became aware that I had two very distinct dialogues going on in my head

One voice (the ungracious part) was thinking that it was taking longer than I had expected, that our house seemed to get so dusty, and noticing some pain in my neck…

At the very same time, I was enjoying the satisfaction of using the nozzle to clean the skirting boards, revelling in the feeling of Zen that was emerging within the house, and feeling so grateful that our home feels and looks so great after a thorough vacuum.

I found myself enjoying the look of our clean lounge room, appreciating the simple, quality furniture, and enjoying the shine that had appeared on the floorboards.

I noticed these thoughts (the gracious part of the mind) and deliberately chose to indulge them further: how grateful I am to have a clean, dry, safe house to live in and one that is so aesthetically pleasing to me. 

Luckily for me, in this moment, the more gracious dialogue prevailed. Sometimes this is not immediately the case. 

It can be so easy to get swept along by the automatic flow of unconscious thought processes. But this is the quickest way to a miserable and ungracious life!! 

I recently read a short practice put together by The Network for Grateful Living and thought you might also benefit from trying this out.


The Practice of “I Get To”


1. Write down five things that you feel you have to do this week; things that you label as “responsibilities.”

Begin each statement with the words, “I have to…”

For example: wash dishes, pay bills, buy food, make school lunches, go to bed early, take medicine, commute, call someone, go to work, take care of someone, etc.

2. Now, underneath the first list, write those same five things, but instead of the words “I have to,” begin each statement with the words: “I get to…”

3. When you finish both lists, notice how different it feels to think that you get to do something versus you have to do it. 

How does this impact the energy you bring to each item on your list?

4. Throughout your day, notice how often you say or think the words, “I have to…” and try to catch yourself and substitute “I get to…” Try to also notice how much other people use this language. 

Experiment with beginning to see – and claim – your responsibilities and obligations as privileges and opportunities.

5. It can also be powerful to understand many of our opportunities as privileges. It can deepen our awareness of our privileges if we consider our options in a relative context. 

To facilitate this, try adding this ending to each “I get to…” statement: “…when so many people cannot.” 

Notice how this can awaken and strengthen a sense of good fortune, compassion, and gratefulness.

How might awareness of your privileges — and the fact that so many people don’t share them — move you to act differently?


In Conclusion

We all have, and will always have, both gracious and ungracious parts of our mind.
But we can become mindful of our internal dialogue and use this mindfulness for our own well-being and the well-being of those around us. 
When we do this, we contribute to a healthier, more fulfilling and kind culture.




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