Do you have to?


One of my last blog posts talked about the energy you put out in the world, and how everything you say and do affects everything around you. Now, have you thought about the situations you walk into on a day-to-day basis? How do these situations affect you?

I sincerely believe that life as a human being is meant to be enjoyed. Our hearts should be singing whenever we begin a new endeavor; we should jump out of bed and be excited for the upcoming day, and be eager for the adventures coming our way.

However, I think many of us do not live ours lives this way. We go about our days completing tasks because we “have to”, while our hearts are telling us that there’s something else we’d rather be doing. If you feel yucky before, during, or after doing something, why are you doing it? That “yucky” feeling is your heart’s way (read: your soul’s way) of saying “hey, listen, this isn’t working for you.”

Let’s take watching the evening news as an example. I’ve heard people say they watch the news because it’s their duty as a citizen to stay informed. So… how do you feel after turning off the TV? Do you feel invigorated? Do you want to get up and dance? Do you joyously shout: “I want to watch another news show!”

The evening news is full of people throwing their negative ripples at you, and you’re sitting there readily absorbing them. News programmes are also champion “them-ifiers“, feeding you stories about “them” and how “their country” is full of bad people, this neighbourhood is full of “those criminals”, “those politicians” are doing this or that. I really believe that news sources don’t (generally) connect humans with each other and the world — they end up creating more of a feeling of separation.

One evening, instead of watching or reading the news, what if you went out for a walk? Or, how about popping in your favourite CD and dancing naked in the living room? Or playing a game of Uno with your spouse? Watch “I Love Lucy”? The laughter and memories you’ll share will do many more wonders for your soul than any news programme will ever do.

Now, I’m not saying that you should be uninformed about the world around you. I know there are terrible things going on out there, but if the evening news is overwhelming, I suggest you start closer to home. Pay attention to the ripples you create that touch the people around you, like I mentioned in one of my blog posts. Right there, you’re already making the world a better place.

More examples of “must dos” are the codes of conduct, diet, wardrobe and schedule required by the various religions of the world. Now, I know that religion is a sensitive subject, so as I touch on it here I’ll be as gentle as I can.

Most religions tell you that you have to commune with God on a specific day in a specific way. Now, if you find yourself in one of these “have to” situations, ask yourself if your heart is singing when you fulfill one of these obligations. If the sun is shining and the beach beckons on one of these dates determined by your religion, why not go there instead? Have you considered that God invented beautiful afternoons in the sunshine with your toes in the sand? He also invented laughter shared with friends over a cup of coffee. Or playing peek-a-boo with your niece and hearing the wonderful laughter of a baby. If you want to get in touch with God (and with your soul at the same time), couldn’t you enjoy any one of these wonderful things He created for you to enjoy? Do you “have to” follow the methods outlined by tradition?

If you genuinely feel you’re connected with God when you go to a specific place at a specific time, or perform a particular set of actions, then by all means, continue to do so. I’m only suggesting that, if you don’t feel that connection in your heart of hearts, you take a step back to look inward to see what beckons you.

Okay, now here’s another biggie: how do you feel when you commute to your place of work every day? Do you burst with the creativity your soul yearns for? Do you hum and skip on your way to the office? Do you end the day with: “I can’t wait to go back tomorrow!”

I touched upon a similar topic in one of my blog posts. Many of us have reasons we “have to” stay in a particular situation. Yes, we have basic needs that must be met in order to keep our physical selves healthy, so we need shelter from cold, and food to nourish our bodies. After that, everything else is extra. (And even a fixed shelter may not really be needed: Eckhart Tolle lived homeless for a year on purpose, which led him to become a world-renown spiritual teacher.) When you place yourself in a situation that drains you physically, emotionally, and spiritually for a portion of your day, that miserable feeling can’t help but creep into the rest of your day. Your feeling of unhappiness permeates throughout your life because you believe you “have to” have or do certain things.

This might sound like I’m encouraging everyone who is unhappy in their current job to take a leap of faith and leave their role. Well, I might be a little biased because I did just that nine moths ago and feel so much more at-peace now, but I do sincerely believe that it’s time we look at our (world) economy differently. An economy based on loving and freely giving (which I may discuss again in future blog posts, but already mention briefly on my site) will fill us with so much more joy and peace than the current one based on hoarding resources and you-scratch-my-back-I-scratch-yours thinking.

Our society is full of “must dos” that we often internalize in our early childhood and carry into adulthood (with the result of making us miserable, generally). There are rules for what you eat, what you say, what you wear, which toys you play with, who you can be friends with, who you have to spend time with, how to have sex, and on and on… The next time you find yourself saying “I have to do…” with a feeling a dread in your gut, why not take a step back to think about who told you about this “must-do”. Are you making the choice voluntarily, because you feel it expresses one of your truths? Or, did you pick up this idea somewhere in your past and have continued to stick with it without realizing?

Closing note: If you live with a chronic feeling of dread, fear, or anxiety, where you are paralyzed into never doing anything, or you constantly feel on-edge, that means that your heart’s been ignored for too long and your negative beliefs have taken root in your mind. It will take time, but if you welcome your heart’s wisdom back into your life, you’ll start to melt away the pain that’s built up over the years.

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