"Get to" or "Have to"

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As we approach Thanksgiving, I am always filled with gratitude for the blessed life that I get to live. This year is no exception. All of us, even those facing daunting challenges, get to live lives of which 99% of the world’s population can only dream. We live in a beautiful place with a fantastic quality of life. The worries and stresses and anxieties that keep us up late at night are the products of jobs, families, and relationships. All of these are outgrowths of lives well-lived. We are privileged to have these “problems” in our lives.

I’m not trying to trivialize anyone’s problems or challenges. We all face real obstacles and deal in hard times. I’m also not saying you should never feel anxious or sad or that you have to feel grateful when your cat dies or your car stops working. I’m suggesting that we work to keep perspective and a realistic outlook on our challenges. Here’s a personal example. Recently, I’ve had some long days at the gym followed up with after work commitments that keep me moving and engaged from 5 am until 10 pm. Long day? You bet, and no one should string too many of those together. But I get to choose if I attack the day with energy, a commitment to connect with athletes and staff, and an appreciation for what a privilege it is to get to do this job; or, I can approach it with drudgery and resignation and an anticipation for how tired I am going to be. The day will be the same either way but the outcomes will be very, very different. Similarly, at the end of the day when laundry still needs to be folded, there are dishes in the sink and one of the kids needs help with homework, I choose if I perceive this as something I “get to do” or if it is something I “have to do”. The point is, it is a choice.

The principle is the same in the middle of a workout when we get a little sad, at our jobs when things aren’t going our way, or in our relationships when we can’t quite see eye to eye. I challenge you this week to change your words around your biggest obstacles. They are all gifts and we “get to” work on them and grow.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Tell the people you care about in your life what they mean to you.