Get to, or have to?

Everyone has things to do in his or her life, though really the only thing you have to do is breathe. You can live without water for five days; you can live without food for perhaps a month, you can live without electricity for the rest of your life if you must, but you can’t live without breathing for more than 4 minutes, so you can see how important that is.

But when you “have to” do your homework, or your chores, or keep your little brother or sister quiet while Mom or Dad is on the phone, or you :have to: take the trash out, you usually feel resentful because you feel burdened: you are doing something that someone else asked you to do and it interferes with what you wanted to do, even though sometimes you don’t really know what you want, but you want it anyway. And it is true: the only thing you really have to do is to breathe. Of course, not doing what people ask you to do can make them mad, and that’s hard on you. How do you avoid getting people mad at you?

You use the magic of how you look at things: you turn your “have to” into “get to.” You can tell yourself: “I get to do the dishes! My hands are cold, and if I wash the dishes in the sink, that will make my hands warm” “I get to clean up my room! When it’s all clean and straight I don’t have to trip over stuff anymore.” “I get to do my homework! This way I can learn things I might need for later. And I can do it early, too, so that I can just sit back and relax, watching everyone else run around like crazy trying to do it at the last second and doing a poor job.” “I get to take the garbage out because I can! I have strong arms and legs because I’m not crippled or sick or weak.” “I get to watch my little brother because he isn’t sick and dying, like some little brothers are.”

You see? You can do this for almost everything. “I get to do the gardening…” or “I get to feed the dog…” or “I get to visit my aunt and uncle…” The same way you can always find a reason to hate things, you can always find a reason to like them.

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