How to Live Your Life With No Shoulds

 

I have a dear friend who is a mental health therapist. Her name is Dena.

As you can imagine…she is VERY interesting to talk to!

I always learn SO much.

The other day we were talking about maturity – emotional, mental and psychological—and how to tell when someone has reached maturity.

She said, “As an adult, we need to be living our lives in a way other than – doing things because we should.”

That sounded kinda funny to me at first but then she explained.

A parent teaches a child what they “should” do. These behaviors we teach our children are choice-and-consequence kinds of behaviors, right?

Absolutely.

They are important and vital as a child develops…as long as they don’t enter the realm of shaming the child but rather teaching best practices.

However, as an adult
we need to be making decisions with purpose – for a reason.

The more I’ve thought about this…the more it makes sense.

It’s an important part of development when we actually live according to best practices we’ve been taught and have gained our own belief system so to speak…to choose and live with purpose.

After our conversation, I began noticing that I was feeling more and more unsettled and frustrated with life.

So I began trying to identify my aggravation.

And then the day came that I realized…she was right!

I was living life a certain way because I felt I SHOULD;

being the mother that I thought I should be,

the wife I felt I was expected to be,

the ‘good’ person I thought I should be.

So I began challenging those beliefs…that outlook…that system of living.

It took some time and practice (not to mention patience with myself!)  

But now I LOVE the life that I’ve created. I have so much more peace and joy and just all around fulfillment in living.

Chances are you have suffered from the same unsettled frustrated state that I found myself in…with a ton of responsibility…and absolutely no patience nor inclination for self-pity.

Here is how I totally changed my paradigm and expanded my outlook on life.

Fair warning:
What I teach you here will effect
how you live,
how you interact,
how you relate with others,
how you perceive the world and how you succeed.

It’s that powerful.

I’m going to teach you a way to challenge yourself and give meaning to your life choices, to your everyday living.

Maybe you feel you already get a lot of meaning from your everyday-all-the-time routines…if so, I congratulate you and say to you:

Then this is gonna knock your socks off and take you to the next level.
I am SO excited for you and your possibilities of achieving an even greater meaning-rich life.

No matter where we are in the life-journey, this strategy will enrich your life and give you purpose and direction in your living.

Most people strum through life, never giving much thought to the WHY of what they are doing.

Of the choices they are making that they have accepted as ‘just who I am’.

Have you noticed that??

It’s totally understandable. That’s where I was not too long ago. About 2 years ago to be exact.

And I’d been there for about 3 decades. 

Now, I don’t mean to say that I’m perfect at this strategy but I do know that my practice has made giant progress…and I’m here to tell you that this process is incredibly liberating and peace-giving.

So here’s my strategy and my challenge to you:

Challenge the WHY of your daily and weekly routines. Put a reason behind them.

Let me give you 5 examples…
1. I no longer have family dinner together because I…should.

I’m willing to make the extra effort to push (and sometimes twist and insist) 😉 for family dinner together because it’s time I want to spend practicing listening to my children, really listening and learning where they ‘are’ and what they think.

In this process of challenging my routines it has become clear to me that I need to hone my listening skills. Family dinners are the perfect opportunity for me to practice and learn the thoughts of my husband and my children.

That alone is worth the extra effort and energy it takes me some nights…and I must admit, there are nights I have to remind myself of the why.

Family dinner has become quite a challenge during the weekday as the kids are getting older. It would be much easier to just let them eat as they will…and I’ve decided once a week that’s ok (usually Tuesday nights…)
2. I no longer go to church because I…should.

I go to church because it puts my life and, quite honestly, my attitude, back on track. (And I need that every week.)

3. I no longer read the scriptures every day because I…should.

I read the scriptures every day because it helps my daily life choices be clearer.

I’ve come to love the clarity of thought that results from reading the scriptures. (Yes, I’ve tested this. I triple-dog-dare you to perform your own test.)

4. I no longer workout because I…should.

I workout because I feel stronger and am definitely getting stronger and more durable.

I feel vibrant and alive.

That has come to be very important to me.

I feel energy (you know energy begets energy).

Working out gets my brain right and gives me clarity of thought in my decision-making and I have purpose in knowing that I’m taking care of this human body I’ve been given.

5. I no longer ‘eat clean’ because I…should.

I eat clean because it brings me a feeling of wholeness; of strength; of being ‘centered’;…of being prepared.

The list goes on but you get the idea.

This whole approach has given me a totally new perspective.

I have found that it gives me a very proactive way to live my life. I love it.

So because I need a reminder…I bought myself a dry erase marker and on my bathroom mirror I wrote:

No Shoulds! Make a choice and live.

And when I feel that frustration and GRR with life I try to let it be a red flag…to remember: No Shoulds.  Make a choice and live.

My mirror also reads:  “TODAY is the day I’ve been waiting for!!!”
This is a little reminder to stop procrastinating. Do you ever find yourself preparing to start ‘that’ someday…

One of the gals I follow on Instagram posted a quote the other day that said:

Don’t let your want for perfection become procrastination.”  

Awesome. (Thank you Tiffany Lee Bymaster @coachglitter!!)

So as I was thinking through all the reasons that I do what I do in my life…it occurred to me…

All these choices we make, whether knowingly or 'automatically' and the things we participate in make up our habits...which makes up our lifestyle. And that gives us control.

Our habits matter. And they add up.

That means I CHOOSE the lifestyle that I want to live.

I choose to do this…or to not do this.

My choice is based on the reason that I realize is behind it.

If it is something that I know is good for me and my family but I am just doing out of some kind of routine, then I inspect it and pinpoint the reason to put behind it.

If I want “these” consequences then I need to make “these” choices. It’s simply reverse engineering. I want THIS goal so…I need to do this, this and this to get there.

My goal:
Live with VISION, COMMITMENT and SELF-DISCIPLINE.

I heard a quote this week that has totally stuck with me:
“Vision without effort is DAYDREAMING.
Effort without vision is DRUDGERY.
But VISION, coupled with EFFORT, will obtain THE PRIZE.
~Thomas S Monson “Finishers Wanted.” (emphasis added)

Take a moment to think and take notice all the things you do 'automatically'...and write out the reason.

No more SHOULDS.

I encourage you to spend a few minutes at a time for several days or just think about it as you live your crazy days. Totally up to you.

It’s life-changing to write it out, to spell out why you do what you do. There’s something magical about it.

You may find that some things

drop out of your life

and some things

you find yourself recommitted to

in a way that enriches you and yours.

I can’t wait to hear about your experiences and recommitments!  Feel free to share them with us in the comments section below if you’d like.
I challenge you.
I encourage you.
You inspire me.

We’re in this together you and me.