When the sun comes out everything changes – the world seems somehow lighter. This week spring has really come through; blossom like snow upon the grass, birds singing loudly and the whirring of lawn mowers rattling into action for the first time this year. There’s a real sense of waking life and excitement as memories of what summer feels like is stirred within us. The streets around where I live have been filled with kids playing games of cricket, football, and cycling about on their tiny little bikes. It’s as if all of a sudden the drudgery of life has been smashed by a conscious interconnectedness and dare I say enjoyment of human interaction.
I spend quite a lot of time in my car, driving around for work, driving to gigs and then my favourite, driving to Durham (and back). The great thing about driving is it gives you the choice to either sit in silence, to talk to yourself, or to listen to something. In driving the three and a half hour journey to Durham I have time to do all three.
Last time I was going up I listened to Michael Hyatt’s podcast and was really caught by one of the points he made about the relationship between vision and the action around it (I think it was that episode anyway – he definitely said it at some point…)
He suggested replacing the word ‘have’ with the word ‘get’.
We spend so much of our lives moaning about all the things we ‘have’ to do. So we just plough on and get them done so that they’re over with. But it’s really easy to get so caught up in this mindset that we approach everything we do under its cloak. It is the perpetual future perspective, whereby we are in a constant battle to get everything we ‘have to do’ done so we can move on to the next task. This never ends and so we never enjoy these things.
However, what if we flip it to things we ‘get to do’? Then we might be able to appreciate what we do and our unique situation in which we are able to do them. What’s the point in life if everything we do is something we begrudgingly ‘HAVE to do’?
Have we led our entire life without making any decisions bringing us to this point?
Are we working thankless tasks because someone or something else has just plonked us into this situation without our say?
No, our lives are a fusion mix of OUR decisions and chanced circumstance.
Rather than, ‘I have to go to work’, how different does ‘I get to go to work’ sound? Or rather than ‘I have to pick the kids up from school’, ‘I get to pick the kids up from school’. That one word changes everything.
There are many people who would love the chance to do these things. And more often than not if we lose the opportunity for the things we currently do then we will thoroughly lament their passing.
Always Someone Worse Off
It’s a different mindset to that of simply saying ‘chin up, there’s always someone worse off than you, be grateful’. Too often we attempt to use this on one another in an effort to force gratitude into a situation where such words are inappropriate. But this is an effort toward injecting gratitude from a negative place. At the end of the day there is someone in a (subjectively) worse off position than everyone in the world, apart from ONE person out of the seven billion of us.
Saying ‘Urgh, I have to go to work but I guess I should be grateful that I’ve got a job’ is not going to lead to gratitude, and it’s certainly not going to inspire you to make the world a better place for the people around you. It turns you introspective and self-centred because it tells you to hold on to what you have as tightly as possible because it could easily be gone and you could end up just like the people who don’t have what you have.
Whereas saying ‘I get to go to work’ allows you to be both grateful for your situation and also to hold it lightly. It somehow opens up and looks out. It’s not about the job, it’s about your attitude. It is the attitude of an enthusiastic leader rather than a reluctant follower. Rather than attempting to drag others down, as is the way with ‘there is always someone worse off’, it sets a foundation for pulling other people up.
How often is it that those people who moan about ‘having to go to work’ are the same people who will be there in 5, 10, 20 years time, still moaning?
The phrase ‘have to’ allows us to think of ourselves as victims, whereas the term ‘get to’ fills our outlook with opportunity and the reality that we can choose our perspective.
We all get to do loads of stuff. What are you doing today that you woke up this morning and thought ‘I have to do…’? What happens if you change the word ‘have’ with the word ‘get’? Does it change the way you approach the task, and your interaction with the other people involved?
Andy Mort is a UK based musician and writer. He is the founder of Sheep Dressed Like Wolves: a Blog and Podcast helping introverts and highly sensitive people recognise and embrace their creativity; and identify what is holding them back from living with the passion, purpose, and meaning they seek in a sometimes overwhelming world.