Changing “Have to” into “Get to”

It was about a year and a half ago when someone told me that they consciously decided to change “I have to…” into “I get to…”. I haven’t seen that person since, but that tiny little word shift has seeped into my life as well.

There are about a million ways to talk about expressing gratitude in our daily lives. And there are about a million blogs discussing the matter. And probably a million more blogs talking about the various scientific studies that actually show that adopting a grateful mindset is useful (seriously, science says so!).

All of this is well and good, but if it’s not simple, the likelihood that I’m going to do it diminishes greatly. And by that I mean I won’t do it. That’s why I like the one for one change that this person suggested to me.

Deleting “Have” and Adding “Get” Equals Happiness!

For every “I have to” (… do the laundry, make dinner, do the dishes, clean up my room, go to work, exercise, eat healthily… and on and on ad nauseam) I can make one switch and feel the benefits immediately. (I also like immediate effects, so this suggestion is awesome!)

When I say “I get to go exercise” to myself, I start feeling happy instead of hurumphy. It reminds me that I have four limbs that I can use, that I am in a state of emotional and physical wellbeing that actually allows me to think about exercise, and that I do, in fact, like to exercise (when I just start).

This Turns Misery into a Challenge

Alternatively, that linguistic change also makes much harder tasks seem like games. Instead of “I have to make it up this mountain on my bike even though my legs feel like they are going to seize up and fall off,” it become a challenge: “I get to make it up this mountain on my bike.” Who else gets to do something as silly and awesome as that? Not too many people. And so that makes me lucky — and right there I’m thinking about gratitude, and not about my poor suffering legs.

This weekend I most definitely, certainly, absolutely did not want to get out of my warm bed, leave my book behind, and head into the freezing tundra of Upstate New York. But… the “get to” got to me and I found out that I was grateful to borrow an extra pair of cross country skis, for a family that taught me to love the outdoors, and for the change in me from childhood to now that allowed me to love it out there (instead of whining about every inch skied as I once did)!

And you know what? Suffering/gratitude usually pays off:

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What are your ways of tricking your brain into being happy?