Finding Gratitude: Get To Vs. Have To

The two hardest days of the week for me are Tuesday and Thursday. Tuesday is hard because it feels like Monday all over again. I’m exhausted from Monday but it’s not even mid-week yet. Thursday is hard because it feels like the end of the week, but I still have one more full day to go.

Every time I’ve started a new job I’ve felt the same emotion: pure elation. I carefully detail tabbed binders with well organized notes and processes. I anticipate new skills I’d like to learn. I wake up early and try to look my best. Then, a familiar wave, crashing, crashing, crashing…

Suddenly things that I used to do for fun seem completely tedious.

When I first applied to college my degree was graphic design. I never took a single course in graphic design. I realized one day, shortly after the term began, that if I had to take courses in graphic design that I would no longer enjoy it. I think most normal people chase their dream through to completion with something called determination.

Luckily, as it turns out I have had more than one dream.

When something feels like a “have to” – it’s kinda scary. There are suddenly consequences. If I don’t do this thing… xyz will happen.

A task that I used to do for fun looks daunting. Easier to avoid. I’ll do it later.

So I try to think of my have to as a get to.

I did this the other day on my commute to work. I’ve been taking the bus to work instead of driving, which at times can feel completely miserable. I have to wake up early, I have to go all the way across town.

Today I tried thinking of it this way: I get to use public transportation because I can afford a bus pass in a city that I love. I get to wake up early which means I get to see the sunrise which means, well, if you want to boil it down I get to be alive.

But we’re getting a little abstract. Most days I just try to focus on this mantra: I am ultimately in control of my happiness.

I know I have it pretty good, but things still get hard sometimes. And it sucks to sink deep in that pit of “ugh – I have to” about things you enjoy doing.

My goal for gratitude lately has been to focus on all the silver linings.

So far it has removed a lot of the pressure. Instead of feeling loaded with consequences, the tasks feel loaded with opportunity. It sounds kind of cheesy, but I know I’m in a place where if I do something difficult and it’s not totally perfect, I’m going to learn from that, and that’s just a part of doing something you love. You get the opportunity to get better at it.

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