Overcoming That Pesky Word: “Should”

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself,  within your way of thinking.”

-Marcus Aurelius

You’ve heard the list, right? I definitely know that I have. That one we all experience so often… the should list. You should make your bed first thing in the morning, with no exceptions ever. You should weigh this much, or else you don’t have worth. You should do everything exactly as the world expects, because life is all about expectations and fulfilling them. Should, should, should, should, should.

That’s what we’ve been told and what has been ingrained into us for so many years that we barely notice anymore when someone else tells us how to live our lives. So what will really bring us happiness? Let’s dig in to my top two tips to overcoming “should” forever, so we can really take hold of the happiness we so deserve.

1. Focus, especially first thing in the morning, on happy impact.

I don’t suggest getting up and starting your day by marking off what is on everyone else’s check list (especially first thing!) Instead, focus on your own heart and ask: what brings me the greatest happiness with the least expenditure?

This is what I call happy impact. It’s a tiny, quick, awesome feeling ‘win’, and it’s the greatest way to start the morning. Feeling accomplished (but not having to complete some lofty and hard-to-achieve-when-you’re-barely-awake task) will put a smile on your face and joy into your heart before you ever head out the door.

For some people, it’s making their bed. I’m one of them! I make my bed every day and I absolutely love it. One of my best friends, though, couldn’t care less about making her bed, so she doesn’t. It doesn’t bring her happiness and she’s been quoted saying, “I’m just going to get back in it tonight, so why would I bother making it?!”

I totally support her in this, because for her, there is no happy impact in the action. Her happy impact is found with a bottle of Diet Coke and snuggling her daughter in the morning and its the best for her. Your way is the right way for you and that’s all that matters. Period.

The truth is: it’s not about what you do to achieve a happy impact, it’s simply about achieving one at all. That’s what matters.

2. Tune in to how things make you feel, not how things look to others. 

So often our actions are somehow related to the perception of others. We do (or don’t do) something because we worry how it will make us look, or how someone else will feel about it.

The best thing we can do is take the word “should” out of our vocabulary altogether. Change your dialogue. Thinking and saying, “I could,” feels a lot more freeing than “I should,” because it takes out the implication of obligation.

Instead of keying in on what others think about our actions (and side note here- in reality, others aren’t even thinking of our actions nearly as much as we are!) it’s much healthier to focus on how things make us feel.

How does making your bed make you feel? Accomplished? Great! Then do it. Annoyed, because you’re just gonna hop back in later? No worries, just skip it. If your weight makes you feel bad about yourself, then definitely address it, for you. But if you’re actually pretty happy until you go to mall and see every size is 0 and think, I should be this size (society’s telling me so, after all), then please just back away from the branding and regain your sanity. Trust me, your curves are amazing anyway.

The whole point in searching for our happy impact is to make ourselves the priority and to make ourselves happier… to not be held back by shoulds and expectations and obligations. To focus instead on things that spark excitement and vigor and happiness and accomplishment within us.

Everyone’s happy impact source will be different, but here are just a few suggestions:

  • Making the bed
  • Morning sex
  • Reading a good novel
  • Inspiring another
  • Leaving the sink clean
  • Starting a load of laundry
  • A healthy breakfast & a huge glass of water

Where do you find your happy impact?

Until next time, lifers.




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