When you start with gratitude, thinking of all the people, things, and advantages you have in life, a feeling of empowerment wells up inside of you. You realize your blessings. You are aware you have overcome obstacles and you will be able to draw on your inner power to overcome obstacles in the future.
Dr. William James, the Father of American Psychology, is often credited with the unveiling of “pragmatism,” the philosophical tradition that considers words and thoughts as tools and instruments for prediction, problem solving, and action. He taught that we could change our lives by altering our attitudes of mind.
Two of Dr. James’ most powerful lessons included:
- Begin to be now, what you will be hereafter.
- Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.
Throughout his life (and I encourage you to read his biography) Dr. James’ primary interest was how the mind can bring about life changing effects.
One of the simplest and most profound examples of his work, involving how the mind can bring about life changing effects with the use of words is swapping “have to” with “get to.”
When you say I “have to” go to work, the message sent to the brain is drudgery. Work becomes a difficult task to say the least. When you switch and say I “get to” go to work, the message is you are blessed. You begin to realize there are people without jobs. Families without support that you are able to give your family.
When it’s I “have to” pick up the kids, the message sent to the brain is inconvenience. There are things you’d rather be doing. When you switch and say I “get to” pick up the kids, the message is how lucky you are. You are reminded there are couples that would give anything to have a child. They would swap places with you in a heartbeat.
When it’s I “have to” go to school, the message is I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to learn new things. I don’t want to expand my mind. When you switch and say, I “get to” go to school, the message is you are fortunate. There are children and adults in this world that would love an opportunity to learn. There are places in this world without books. There are places where people don’t know what the word “library” means. Being able to receive an education is truly a blessing.
When you are telling yourself, I “have to” go to a meeting or presentation, you’re sending a message that you’d rather remain where you are in life. It could be you’re telling yourself you don’t need to know more. The message may be interpreted that you have all the knowledge that you need. When you “get to” go to a meeting or presentation, you realize that someone is trying to lift you up. Someone is trying to share insights with you. You are blessed to be in a learning environment.
When you hear yourself say, I ‘have to” go to the store, you’re forgetting how your ancestors lived. Your grandmother and great-grandmother had to go out and pick vegetables from the garden. They had to kill the chicken and de-feather it before cooking it. When you say, I “get to” go to the store, you are reminding yourself of how blessed you are to live in an abundant world. Where food is on the shelves and stored in refrigeration and freezer units for you.
When you remind yourself, I “have to” work out, the message sent to your brain is one of strain, pain, sweat and uncomfortableness. Inconvenience may also come to mind. When you switch the message to I “get to” work out, your brain is reminded of your physical gifts. You realize that there are individuals that can’t perform some of the tasks you “get to” do instead of “have to” do. Getting to exercise reminds you of your capabilities.
When you “have to” go to the bank for a loan instead of “getting to” go to the bank, sends the message of scarcity to your brain that you are in need and lacking resources. When you “get to” go to the bank, you send the message you have resources available to you. You are not alone. You have developed credit based on your work ethic and integrity.
Every time you switch from “have to” to “get to” you are shifting to a position of empowerment. You are telling yourself you have choices. You are reminding yourself of blessings, support, and options available to you.
Starting today, start writing down every time you say (or think) you “have to” do something and how it makes you feel in the moment. Then switch your thoughts and self-talk to I “get to” do it. Write down how it changes the way you feel. You will notice the difference in feelings with the first journal entry! After 3-4 weeks, you will have developed the habit of “get to.”
As you are developing the habit of “getting to” do things, you will also recognize all the people around you “having to” do things and the negative effect those things have on their outlooks. Don’t be bashful. Share your new “get to” approach! They’ll be grateful.
Remember, there is greatness within you. You must choose greatness. It won’t develop on its own. I believe in you!
“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.“
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Published by Bryan M. Balch, Results Coach
Helping Individuals and Businesses Achieve Desired Results