From Have-to To Want-to (And Losing That Stress!)

My toddler talks all.the.time. Seriously. On a good day I double over in laughter because she seems to be able to survive without taking a breath for 10 solid minutes (approximately 65 sentences in a row. I counted).

On a bad day I can get in a “Do-I-HAVE-TO-listen-to-the-My-Little-Pony-story-again??!” rut. In those moments, even her golden-blonde ringlets and adorable dimples can’t jolt me from feeling just plain stuck!

But something else can.

It’s the truth that cuts our stress to nearly nothing when we live our lives by it:

Everything is something you decide to do, …there is nothing you have to do. – Denis Waitley

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It applies to:

  • how we feel
  • how we spend our time
  • how we respond to life
  • how we engage others
  • how we see God
  • how we see ourselves

Everything we do is a choice. Let that sink in for a moment.

My oldest daughter would argue (loudly) with this. Maybe you would too? Perhaps you feel you HAVE TO work at your current job. Do the laundry. Take the dog for a walk. Tuck in your kids when you’re exhausted. Be perfect at everything. Cook that next meal. Have sex with your spouse (if you’re a mom, you know this can fall in the have-to category!)

It is ALL a choice. Don’t believe me?

  • What if you actually work at your job because you choose not to live under a bridge?
  • Or you do the laundry because you choose not to smell like cat litter or have your kids look like ragamuffins?
  • Or you walk your dog because she’s the world’s best cuddler (or a great excuse to burn off that accidentally-consumed danish)?
  • Or you make out with your spouse because you choose him over all the others and want him to be happy (or *gasp* you actually ENJOY it)?

Everything we do is a choice. It’s just a matter of how we SEE.

How can we switch gears when we’re feeling stressed and stuck in a moment? Ask yourself a few questions:

  • What benefits come from doing what I “have to” do?
  • What alternatives do I have? Are they worth making a change?
  • What would help me feel more in control and less like a victim right now?

Questions 1 and 3 reframe a moment. Question 2 gives you an out. Because sometimes, what we’re feeling we have to do isn’t the best choice at all. Like if you constantly find yourself feeling compelled to do things that wear you out. Or you feel like you always have to say “Yes.”

You see, this is the heart of a favorite verse of mine, and of one of the most life-giving principles God gives us:

“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7

You have a choice in all you do, my friend. Today, will you choose to see life that way? You may just find that peace you’ve been looking for!


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