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.
Sometimes when you’re tired you need to do the easy thing, do things the easy way, because to work to hard can harm you. However, if you get used to doing things the easy way, it actually makes you weaker, not stronger. If you get home and just flop in the couch without doing any chores, that might seem like a good thing: it means you can do what you want! If you take the easy way out in an assignment for school, and cheat instead of learning, or read stuff that is far below your grade level, you are actually making yourself more stupid. If you never reach to the edges of your strength, your strength leaks away. Really!
Yes it is true: sometimes an assignment can be too hard and frustrating, too difficult to understand: then you get help if you can, of course. But to keep doing things the slow way, the easy way, the “let someone else do it” way really costs you more than you know. If you always do the easy things, you will never gain self-confidence. Self-confidence is not the same as self-esteem: that just means that you feel you are a good and okay person that deserves to be treated well. Self-confidence means that you feel strong. You feel that if something happens that’s difficult, or scary or unexpected or terrible that you will be able to deal with it one way or another. Of course there are some things that no one can change, like earthquakes or car accidents of floods: they are too big for anyone.
But just imagine: if one of those big things did happen to you or even a small thing like someone right next to you needing help or you have to walk a long way because your car broke down and you had always taken the easy way out, the slow or stupid or lazy way out, you would not do very well, would you? Trust me: it’s stupid to let inertia rule your life!
Think on this: How often do you say you are going to do something, and then don’t? How often do you tell someone in your family, or your friends, or someone else in authority, “Yes, I’ll do that,” or,”I’ll be there on time Thursday,” or, “I’ll go tomorrow.” How often? When you say something and you do not do it, unless you have a good reason why you couldn’t do it, then you’re lying and you’re breaking a promise. You may not think doing this matters but it does, it really does.
If you have told someone something and they believe you, then they will do something to prepare for your help. They will take time to be able to work with you; they will make sure you can come to help them if that is what you have said you will do; they will make sure that they will be at a certain place at a certain time; they will change their lives to be able to be there with you when you come. They may take hours getting ready! They may have to stop something they are already doing or they may have to get an agreement from someone else. So this is time and trouble taken out of their lives, and their time matters.
It should matter! Everyone else’s time should matter as much as your time! If you were holding up a heavy log and you asked someone to hold up the other end but they decided they didn’t want to hold it and just dropped it, do you think you would like that? Do you think you would like it when someone else promised you something but let you down? Breaking a promise is lying. Saying you’ll do something that you decide not to do later is lying. And even though something might happen to you that keeps you from holding to your promise, you still need to apologize. Why? Because everyone else should matter to you at least as much as you matter to yourself.
Sometimes, you feel lonely and thing that you really want a true friend. But these days, there are so many “friends” that don’t really care for you. You can have 1.000 “friends” on Facebook, but too many times they are just pictures in your computer or phonepad: they are not really there for you. They may give you little icons of sadness or happiness, but they are not true friends.
A true friend is someone who will stand still and listen to you when you need to talk something out; you can be a true friend by listening to someone when he or she just needs to talk. A true friend will do his or her best to understand you, even though sometimes you might be a puzzle to them. Why do you like your eggs over-easy, all runny and yellow, instead of hard and easier to eat? They will try and understand. You can be a true friend by trying to understand your friend when he or she eats these silly, hard eggs for breakfast. A true friend will understand that, while you like a certain type of music, you really don’t like that one piece of music because it reminds you of the time when something bad happened to someone you used to know or, maybe, that the words of that particular song remind them of something bad that happened to them.
You see, it doesn’t matter why someone else likes what he or she likes or doesn’t like: every person has a reason. You have reasons for what you like and why you like it too. The best kind of friend is someone who realizes: “Not everyone is like I am! Not everyone likes what I like! But everyone has a reason for liking or not liking what she or he wants, the same way I have reasons for everything I do, too. But my friends are special, so I will take the trouble to know them.”