A friend and fellow yogini once told me that “should” is the most violent word in the English language.
It’s been a few years since I heard those words, but they stuck with me. When I’m full of “shoulds” — I “should” clean the house, I “should” do my work, I “should” spend more time doing a chore….I take a step back. Where’s the enjoyment in life — and if everything is a “should,” instead of a passion or want or need, perhaps I’m heading down the wrong path.
The other night, Wes Moore, author of “The Work: My Search for a Life that Matters” appeared on The Daily Show. He has an amazing story of growing up in a troubled community and rising above, going on to serve in the military, writing 2 successful books and now giving back by developing organizations that help veterans. When Stewart asked him how he’s accomplished so much at such a young age (he’s in his mid 30’s) he said that he once had a mentor that told him: everyday you do something you aren’t passionate about, you become extraordinarily ordinary.
I take that to mean every day that the “shoulds” take over, you get beat down and lose the drive, energy and essence that makes you a vibrant human being. “Should” also demeans the action you’re about to do. Even when you choose an alternate activity, but say I “should” be doing something else — it means you aren’t fully invested in the one you’ve chosen. It’s tainted with guilt. So let go of “should” and instead just do.
So yesterday, when the should’s beckoned, I rebelled. Instead of grocery shopping, I went to a hot yoga class that my body was literally craving. Instead of writing articles in the afternoon and riding the trainer in the evening, I took advantage of a February 70-degree day and rode my bike outside. Instead of making up time later by working, I took my daughter for much needed one-on-one time for pedicures. Never once did I regret my decisions by saying “I should” be somewhere else. I just enjoyed. I had one of the best practices and rides ever; and of course, enjoyed my daughter time.
All those “shoulds” are still there, but I have a better attitude about them today. I am “going” to get the groceries and write articles. Perhaps I’m not passionate about them, but they won’t bring me down today.
Of course, you do need to pay the bills and the taxes and perform chores — but notice when you also create a list of “shoulds” that further burden you. When you deny yourself activities you’re passionate about because you “should” be doing something else, you lose you.