Loving Life? (Part 2)

Last week I began a series based on an article that was shared on Facebook titled, “10 Things That The People Who Love Their Lives Are Doing Differently,” by Paul Hudson, originally posted on elitedaily.com.

This article intrigued me because I do consider myself to be someone who loves my life. However, I found several items on this list that I’m not doing very well. So, I thought I’d take each “philosophy” listed and do a bit of “virtual” self-analyzing. I’ll post one item weekly.

After all, there’s always room to love my life a little more.

Here’s the second thing people who love their lives do differently:

They do things because they want to do them, not because they believe they have to do them.

 

ODD page

I was surprised at how quickly this loving-life philosophy brought to mind a memory from my childhood.

Admittedly, as a young girl, I did not like to do my chores, especially cleaning the kitchen. Being the oldest of five, you might imagine keeping the sink cleared of dishes was a never-ending task. But I also knew I couldn’t go out to play until my chores were finished.

One day, (I can’t remember–or even imagine–why!) I decided to surprise my mom and clean the kitchen until it sparkled–without her having to ask. Imagining the look of surprised pleasure on her face, I actually smiled as I loaded the dishwasher.

Then came the words that spoiled it all.

“Jan,” my mom called from her bedroom, “would you please unload the dishwasher?”

My enthusiasm deflated faster than a balloon just pricked with a very sharp pin.

What? Who wants to clean the kitchen now that Mom asked me to do it?

It was the first time I consciously remember understanding the difference between doing something because I wanted to do it, as opposed to doing something because I had to do it, and I’ve seen other instances since then:

  • Taking Art Appreciation in college because it was a requirement of my degree vs. Desiring to take Art Appreciation today because I truly appreciate art.
  • Going to church because my parents told me I had to go vs. Attending church because I’m interested in the sermon.
  • I’ll admit that this philosophy affects my writing life. There are times I feel like I have to write — that it’s expected of me. When I feel that it’s expected of me, I feel a clear difference in my desire to write. I call the resulting lack of writing being passively aggressive with myself, or at least with the mystery source that I perceive is telling me I have to write.

As with the first item on this list, there’s plenty of room for me to improve. But I’m moving in the right direction–because I want to.

Where do you fall on the scale of “want to” vs. “have to?”

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8 Responses to Loving Life? (Part 2)

  1. Steve says:

    Thank you for the thoughtful essay Jan. Made me think of a similar experience when I was selling my paintings (svanek-art.com) There were styles I did that were more popular and sold well at the art shows. Over the years I got tired of painting in that style but felt obliged to do so to try insure my shows would be profitable. I’ve wondered if that lack of motivation came through in the art or even had a negative effect on my overall motivation to paint. 

    The thing is, nobody was telling me I “had to” paint in that style but myself. 

    When I resist or feel obliged to do something it helps me to remind myself that everything I do is a choice, and remind myself of the reasons and benefits of making that choice and that I’m free to choose differently. 

    • Jan Morrill says:

      Steve, what happened with your art shows is a good example, and kind of like where I am with my writing now–as you know. 🙂 I need to keep telling myself it’s my choice. It’s my choice. It’s my choice. 🙂

  2. Mustang.Koji says:

    Your writing brings up a lot of contemplation, Jan. A lot. “Want to” versus “have to”… Indeed, the “have to’s” dominate my life. Even when I “want to”, I don’t because of the “have to’s”. Kinda puts some rain on the wants. And your thought about writing… Do you seem to flow better when it is on the sour of the moment?

    • Jan Morrill says:

      Koji, I remember being in your place. I especially remember a time when I was frustrated that I “had to” get up in the middle of the night to rock my son–who woke quite often in the middle of the night–back to sleep. As I rocked him, I tried to put myself in the future, to a time when he was grown and I longed to be back in a time when I could again hold him in my arms. It helped. I no longer “had to” rock him, I “got to” rock him. Also, I’ve never heard “sour of the moment.” I’ll have to contemplate what that means. Oh! I’m kind of slow. I think maybe that was a typo and you mean spur of the moment. Duh.

      I think I’m going to remember “sour” of the moment. And yes, I do flow better when it’s spur of the moment. Steve and I often do spur of the moment writing prompts, and I rarely have writers’ block then.

      I hope your contemplation leads to allowing yourself more moments of “want to.”

      • Mustang.Koji says:

        Yes! Spur!! OMG!

        Right now, the kids don’t affect my “want to’s”… It’s more the grief I get from the ex – their mother… She truly offers little if any cooperation when it comes to planning out their week. For her, it’s always “spur” of the moment last second texts… Not a typo! 🙂

  3. “I’ll admit that this philosophy affects my writing life. There are times I feel like I have to write — that it’s expected of me. When I feel that it’s expected of me, I feel a clear difference in my desire to write. I call the resulting lack of writing being passively aggressive with myself, or at least with the mystery source that I perceive is telling me I have to write.” YES! I have felt that way at times. But, like you with your son in the middle of the night, I try to think of the future and the end result. A finished book. Possibly published. And, like you, it really helps 🙂
    I like “sour of the moment”. Could be descriptive of the “Have to’s” 😉

    • Jan Morrill says:

      Isn’t that funny how that works? If only my brain could more often convince my heart and hands that I WANT to write, instead of I HAVE to write. 🙂

      • I agree. Most of the time I can manage to turn the have to into a want to. On the days I can’t, I step away from the computer for a bit and tell myself “I don’t HAVE TO do this today.” Then, 9 times out of 10, I come back later that day on a WANT TO basis 😉 Like I said, it doesn’t always work, but 9 times out of 10 isn’t bad 🙂

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