You don’t have to be grateful

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There’s always a lot of talk about gratitude and how good it is for us. But you know what? We don’t have to be grateful. We really don’t.

Recently I’ve been trying a little trick I learned about positive thinking. I’m sure I heard it on a podcast, though I can’t remember which one. Anyway, the recommendation is simply to replace one word in your daily communication. You change “I HAVE to . . . ” to “I GET to . . . .”

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Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Think about it. Instead of “I have to go to the dentist,” say, “I GET to go to the dentist.” Lots of people in this world  would love to have dental care and would be thrilled to sit in a dentist’s chair. Really. Going to the dentist is a whole lot better than living with an abscessed tooth. At least I guess it is–I’ve never had to deal with such a thing because I get to go to the dentist. “I GET to go to the dentist,” acknowledges that dental care is a privilege many do not have.

Let’s try another one. “I have to do laundry.” If instead we said, “I get to do laundry,” we are saying, “I appreciate having clothing and a means to get it clean. I am grateful for activities that create dirty laundry–cooking, eating, working, playing.” If you have a washer/dryer in your home, then you are also saying, “All I have to do is go to my very own machine and load it. Most of the population of the world doesn’t have access to clean water and I have a machine that washes my clothes. Wow! I’m so grateful that I get to do laundry.”

Try some of these on your own: “I get to go to work,” “I get to visit my family,” “I get to exercise.” What gratitude lies within each of those statements for you? You may not love your job, but how can you be grateful for it? Your family may be difficult (and if it’s toxic, how about you try, “I GET to stay away from poisonous relationships), but if it’s at least partially positive, how can you express gratitude for those interactions? As for exercise, do you know anyone who would love to have the physical abilities you have? Maybe think of that person while you work-out. That kind of thinking surely does keep my complaints in check.

It does more than that too. It multiplies my gratitude. When I pause and replace that one word, I have time to realize that I am privileged in so many ways. I get to do things like run errands, study, make my bed, clean my home, that others would love to do. Just the other day I was talking with someone who spoke of how much she missed running errands. Her mobility has become limited and she has to rely on others either to do those errands or chauffer her from one to the next. But I get too. And now, because I realize that, I’m grateful.

So no. We are not required to have an attitude of gratitude. But we get to: we get to be grateful. I, for one, really appreciate that.

How about you?

By Aileen MItchell Lawrimore

Aileen Mitchell Lawrimore is a mother x 3, wife x 35 (years not men), minister, speaker, writer, retreat leader, and lover of beagles and books. She has a lot to say.