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I Have To... vs. I Get To...


The past month of my life has been challenging. An injury has prevented me from doing my work, exercising, and has filled my days with doctors appointments and physical therapy sessions. I’ve experienced pain that I never knew existed. I could not live life the way I was used to and the everyday things I took for granted, such as sitting to watch television, became nearly impossible. Negativity and doubt began to shadow my mind. At my lowest point, I remember saying to my wife, “I do not feel like myself. I feel like I’m losing control of my mind.” Pessimistic thoughts were beginning to hack into my mind like an intruder, quickly stealing my most prized possession - a positive outlook on life.

Things I took for granted I could no longer do. I couldn’t hold my daughter. I couldn’t help around the house. I couldn’t watch TV. I could barely move, or even think, without pain. I knew I needed to regain control of my mind. I allowed five minutes to feel sorry for myself, then got to work on changing my mindset.


I’ve always tried to be positive, even in the face of adversity or uncertainty. With my mindset being tested, I began scrutinizing every word that I used. Beyond the obvious negative words or phrases, I noticed myself saying “I have to” a lot. I have to go to the doctor. I have to drive to the city for my appointment. I have to wake up early tomorrow. I noticed that by continuously saying ‘have’ throughout the day, I was reinforcing a mindset of obligation and inconvenience.


By making one small change - replacing have with get - I could reframe my thoughts from obligation to opportunity. This subtle difference helps to see potential benefits in any given situation and reinforces a positive mindset. By developing the “get to” habit, challenging situations become growth opportunities. Events that were once inconvenient are now worthwhile and beneficial. With time and practice, the world is seen out of a much more optimistic lens. I get to learn more about my health today from the doctor. I get to listen to that podcast I’ve been wanting to on my drive into the city. I get to start my day earlier tomorrow and take advantage of my morning.


Instead of seeing the world as a series of burdening chores that must be done, we can choose a life of endless possibilities. Chances to grow, learn, improve, and be challenged. Instead of letting life happen to us, we are choosing an attitude that allows life to happen for us.


I get to go to practice Friday night.

I get to work on my physics homework tonight.

I get to wake up and workout.

I get to eat healthier.

I get to check my work emails.

I get to go to that meeting with my boss.


How blessed are we that we get to do so many things.


Words matter. Even if it’s only one word. One word can change everything.


So the next time you are tempted to say you have to do something, take the “get to” challenge. Don’t allow the words you use everyday to frame your point of view on life. Never have to do anything ever again. Take control of your mind, choose your attitude, and enjoy a life that is happening for you.


So, what will you get to do today?

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