More “Want To” and Less “Have To”

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“What you love is a sign from your higher self of what you are to do.” – Sanaya Roman

Sometimes we forget that life is meant to be enjoyed. Yes, the natural state of being is a joyful and optimistic one, but a busy life can make us forget that. We can get so caught up in the daily “To Do” List that we do not have time to reconnect with ourselves, with our spirit or with our loved ones. Yet, those are the connections that bring us joy and keep us in a happy and optimistic place.

If you have been trudging through your days repeating the mantra that as soon as the things on the To Do List are complete you can relax and enjoy yourself, stop right now. Taking one moment to breathe in a few times can get you one step closer to relaxation and to enjoying life – no matter what else is happening.

Part of being a responsible adult is doing what we have to in order to do what we want to. However, that does not stop us from adding more of “want to” while reducing the amount of “have to” in order to keep us moving in the direction of greater joy. Start out with something small. What are the everyday activities that relax you and bring you joy? Perhaps you want to read more, start a meditation practice, or to reach out to friends on a regular basis.

I realized last year that I really wanted to spend more of my time with friends.   As soon as I started brainstorming about how to do this, however, the “have to” part of my ego started telling me that I didn’t have enough time, that I was too busy or that I would never be able to coordinate schedules. Fortunately, I followed my spirit instead. It knew that connecting with friends brings me more into the present moment, keeps me grounded and, as is the case when doing something we truly love, slows down and expands my time.

So, my friend Terri and I started a monthly dinner. Instead of trying to coordinate two crazy schedules, we just picked the first Tuesday of each month and resolved to have dinner at her house and we worked out the details. It was easier for me to head out to her house in the suburbs, rather than for her to come to the city, while she handles the cooking. For a couple of hours each month, no matter what else is going on, we know we have a standing date. Tuesday’s with Terri has become a touchstone for me. We can really talk about what is most important to us, get and give support and have a lot of laughs.

A subtle shift in the way we spend our time is exactly how we get out from under “have to” and make the transition to “want to”. Now my life feels like it is more in line with what is important to me. I did not have to make any radical changes, like quit my job or move. What could be easier than going to dinner once a month? Almost a year later, the extra time spent with Terri has clearly not caused me to fall behind on any of my other responsibilities. Instead, I feel a greater sense of contentment, knowing that I am tending to my friendships – and they are tending to me by feeding me joyful energy.

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