I am sure many of you have heard this before – The whole “I get to” versus “I have to” perspective shift.
As much as we want to roll our eyes to this concept, it really is a game-changer. That is, IF you are really ready for this shift in mindset.
When I used to own a CrossFit gym, I used this mindset often with myself and my clients. All too often, and all too easily, we take our lives for granted. And in fitness, we take our able-bodies for granted.
The most common complaint at the gym was always, “I have to workout… I have to do thrusters… I have to do burpees…”
(But, you GET TO workout – With awesome people, with great coaches, and with a fully functioning, healthy, able body!)
When we start any sentence with, “I have to…” it’s pretty much a guaranteed suck-fest.
And, we lose out on what we have to gain in the situation. What we could learn. How we could grow and progress through it. Come out a better version of oneself.
Remember when we were kids, and when our friends asked us to come outside and play, we’d say, “I can’t… I have to clean my room.”
(But, you GET TO clean your room, because you have a room. You’re OWN room, at that. In a warm, safe house. With parents who care about you, and pay for everything!)
Last week, I was humbly reminded of this perspective shift when we went to Disney World with our two girls – One is almost six, and the other is almost two years old.
As every family can relate, we had meltdowns and moments of impatience. Of course, we also had a ton of pretty awesome moments!
There was one moment in particular, though.
We were waiting in line to meet Buzz Lightyear and get his autograph. My oldest had an autograph book, and wanted to meet every character possible. So, we stood in line for about 30 minutes, which in a child’s world, is like 1,250 minutes.
I am also pregnant with our third, about 4 months along. The combination of my pregnancy, my oldest’s hyperactivity, and my youngest’s whiny, needy stage created a vortex of frustration for me.
I was tired, bloated, sweaty, and downright irritated.
I kept sighing heavily and rolling my eyes. When the heck would this line end?!
I HAVE TO stand in this stupid line and wait for Buzz Lightyear.
I HAVE TO pick up my youngest for the millionth time just to keep her quiet in line.
I HAVE TO be here in this hot weather, and constantly remind my oldest how to behave properly in line.
I was Negative Nancy. I fully admit it.
And then, FINALLY, we were next in line. Oh, sweet relief!
But, wait. What’s this?! Someone’s coming from the other side and cutting?! What the heck?!?!
The employee comes up to me and says, “Excuse me, ma’am, but we have a family here with Make a Wish Foundation. Would it be alright if their daughter went before you guys? You’ll be right after them.”
It took me a second to register what she was saying, because I had to put my bad attitude aside, and realize what was going on. Of course, I agreed and allowed the family to go in front of us.
And then, I watched the family.
The little girl was probably about 9 or 10 years old, and she danced around Buzz with her younger brother. The sheer excitement in her face was infectious to watch. Buzz spent a solid ten minutes goofing off with them, and making the girl laugh.
I watched her mother as she mentally recorded this moment in her heart. Tears streaming down her face. The grandparents were there, too, and they shared in the bittersweet moment.
I can only imagine as a mother myself that she was probably thinking something like, “I’ll never get to do this with her ever again. I want to remember this forever. Her laugh. Her smile. This moment where she’s not in any pain, and not thinking about the inevitable. She gets a whole day to be a kid, and not a patient. I love her so much.”
I suddenly realized that I was crying, too, because my oldest asked me what was wrong with my eyes.
I shook my finger at myself.
While, yes, we are all human, and we can’t live life in fear of death, or anything like that, we can choose gratitude at any time.
I had forgotten in a classic parental moment of frustration that I GET TO bring my kids to Disney World, I GET TO wait in line for Buzz, and I GET TO bring them back here again, and again, and again throughout the years.
I GET TO sleep soundly at night knowing my kids are healthy and safe.
I GET TO hold my youngest for the millionth time, and I know that there will be millions more ahead.
I GET TO remind and discipline my oldest time and time again, and teach her how to be a good person as she gets older and older. I GET TO watch her grow old.
I GET TO wait in this line for Buzz, and all of the other characters, and watch my daughter’s eyes light up when she meets them face-to-face.
I GET TO enjoy a week in Disney World with my girls, and then go home and continue life with them as normal. No hospital visits await us. No medications. No treatments. No Hospice. No conversations with my daughter about what Heaven might be like.
This simple change in sentence structure can re-wire everything.
Try it next time you’re dragging your feet through the mud.
I GET TO go to work today. I GET TO sit in traffic in my BMW and listen to a podcast. I GET TO work a double shift and get paid overtime. I GET TO go to the grocery store and buy anything I want for my family. I GET TO walk my dog. I GET TO wake up at 4:30am to workout at 5:00. I GET TO to read this blog post and make a choice for myself.
Choose gratitude. Always.