How to Stop Living in the Land of ‘Should’

Mute swan Cygnus olor gliding across a mist covered lake at dawnOne of the big illusions about life is that somewhere out there … it’s better. Someone other than me is working harder, delighting more readers, and generally looking a lot hotter.

And so, presumably, they are on track to be the so-called winner. Maybe they even get to take home a big stuffed bear.

A part of our brain often gets fixated on how our lives should be … as opposed to how perfectly satisfying and wonderful they are right here and right now.

My friend Jon calls this sad habit ‘shoulding on yourself’.

As in ‘I should be working 50 hours weeks building my empire,’ or ‘I should have a massive list by now’. And let’s not forget that perennial favorite, ‘I should be ten pounds thinner.’

If you’re like me, you slip into shoulding without even thinking about it. I notice I get particularly should-y when thinking about my work, no matter how much I’ve accomplished. And no matter what’s going on in my life.

For instance, in five days, I’m getting married. These are the days of wine and roses, right? Yet my mind has been squarely parked on how much work I could cram in before the guests start arriving … purely out of should-i-ness.

Have I been getting all that  work done? Not really. I’m too distracted! I want to take a champagne bath, and try on my wedding ring fifteen more times. I want to call all the family and friends who are showing up for the big day.

I want to hold my love and look dreamily in her eyes. I want to lie around and think about this big, gorgeous step I’m taking, savoring every minute of these pre-wedding days.

Which I would do … except for that old taskmaster, Should, in my head. Silently, she taps her stick against her hand and regards me with dismay.

Here’s the supreme irony of it all. We don’t actually get that much done when we are being ‘shouldy’. We’re much more likely to really rock the results when we let go completely and honor what’s happening here and now.

Jon, who is a very wise soul, reminds me that even a state of inertia can be God’s will for us. After all, God’s not standing around, impatiently waiting for results.

Instead, God, or the Universe, or Spirit (or whomever you recognize that great guiding Force to be), invites us all to let go and slide into the slipstream of love. Here we flow from one task to the next, effortlessly.

Here we let go and surrender and find our way to whatever would feel right next. So instead of a ‘To Do’ list we keep a ‘Why Not?’ list.

Why not take a walk and watch the clouds for as long as you want? Maybe inspiration will descend. And maybe it won’t …

Why not call someone you love and tell them so for no good reason. Then perhaps your heart will expand just a little more greatly. Or someone else’s will.

Or why not take a chance and submit a story to that hot media outlet you’ve been craving because suddenly … it just feels right?

That’s flow, baby. I highly recommend inviting it into your life.

When we get ball-and-chained to our To Do lists, there is no room to breathe and we forget the very core of our aliveness. This is how we get so very, very tired. We can’t keep up, and the strategies we’ve invested our time, our money, and our belief in begin to crumble.

This is when the ‘shoulds’ begin in earnest. And rightly so because (gasp!) we are behind. And we know in our hearts we will never catch up.

This is how we wind up soundly parked in self-doubt. Which is exactly where I was when I spoke to my friend Jon. I needed to hear him say that that there is no ‘there’ there. There really is nothing to push towards.

There is only the here and now, one beautiful day at a time.

May you join me in embracing what is true right now, for all of its warts, bumps and obvious gaps. This, too, is God’s will … just as you are.

You have been given a sacred job of simply being, my friend. So the question remains: is that good enough for you?

Me? I say yes!

Why not you, too?

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