Feeling Gratitude Is About Your ‘Get To’
Gratitude is en vogue for good reason. No stronger antidote for unhappiness exists than the daily review of what we are grateful for. Remembering to be grateful is not always easy, however, especially when we get busy and confront numerous challenges throughout the day.
As we face the daily grind of arduous tasks, we often fall prey to thoughts of “have to” and “need to.” Expressions such as, “I have to go through my emails,” and, “I need to prepare for tomorrow’s meeting,” are perfectly normal. They represent an acceptance of our tasks but push us farther from the feelings of gratefulness we desperately need to create personal happiness.
To resist these thoughts and expressions and find our way to gratefulness, we need a different mindset to guide our thinking. We must find a new expression to guide our actions. The most grateful among us choose the expression “get to.” I get to wake up early tomorrow. I get to hug my partner this morning. I get to sip some coffee before I start my day. Gratitude is most aligned with a “get to” way of thinking.
When we move from “have to” and find ourselves in the spirit of “get to,” we loosen the grip of demand and begin to enjoy the freedom and optimism of opportunity. Thoughts and inner voice expressions like, “I get to cook dinner tonight,” “I get to work on that project,” “I get to contribute to our meeting,” place us squarely in the camp of gratitude.
Practiced daily, a get-to orientation puts us into a different frame of mind. We begin to see the world as a place of pleasure and not an onerous set of tasks. “Get to” requires us to think and act positively. More importantly, it excites us with the possibilities of what is yet to come. A get-to mindset represents a more permanent sense of gratefulness.
What do you get to do today?
I remember exactly when this happened to me. It was 1991 or 1992 while I was attending Riverside Community College. I remember telling myself I 'have to' go to class or 'I have to' do my homework. Then one day I realized that it was my decision to go to school and that I was paying for it. Why would I volunteer to 'have to' do anything? From that day on, I started using 'get to' and it has made a world of difference.
During the winter break, I was with some friends of mine that work with my wife at the local high school. It was Sunday night and they were all still on their winter break. It was getting late and one of the people said, "Oh, that's right. You 'have to' go to work in the morning, don't you?" with a sad look on her face. My response was instinctive and I replied, "I get to go to work in in the morning." Someone else called BS but my wife and a close friend of mine shook their heads and said, "No, he's serious. That is just how he is."
Funny thing is, one of the teachers told me a few weeks later that he remembered what I had said and that it has been helping him get through a rough period in his current role.