There’s a blogger and book writer named James Clear who writes with the simple clarity his surname suggests. In a short excerpt from his recent book, Atomic Habits, he talked about an elementary change of mind that has, in the weeks since I read it, given me dozens of moments of corrective emotional realignment.
It’s a simple trick. Instead of telling yourself you “have” to do something, tell yourself you “get” to do something.
You know what this is. It’s the posture of gratitude. But in this case, it’s like a tiny one-word pocket card you can flick out the moment you feel put out over some task you have/get to do.
Dishes. Dusting. Errands in traffic. Workouts. Tough conversations. Filling out forms. Small talk. Shopping (for some of us). Countless inconveniences. Whatever you must do against your liking.
The small miracle is that we get to do the things we have to do. We are alive another day. We are able. We are, in so many ways, privileged if we are merely here and hale and with choices.
Both statements are true: We have to. We get to. The frame is our choice.
James Clear writes: “I once heard a story about a man who uses a wheelchair. When asked if it was difficult being confined, he responded, ‘I’m not confined to my wheelchair — I am liberated by it. If it wasn’t for my wheelchair, I would be bed-bound and never able to leave my house.’ This shift in perspective completely transformed how he lived each day.”