Monday, November 1, 2010

Doing what you want and not what you should.

I've probably written about this before, but I was telling a friend that I do not support her in doing what others expect her to do or what she thinks she should. I only support her in following her heart and doing whatever gives her joy. She told me it was a relief to hear that she didn't have to do what she should. Relief. That's how I felt too when I finally understood that being happy and excited about doing something is the indication that I need to do it. On the contrary, telling myself that I should do something, is an indication for me not to do it.

For example, I should call the person back who left me a message on my voice mail. When I tell myself this it means that I am tired and I don't feel like talking to this person, but I will return the phone call out of obligation. If I do return the phone call, it will be a boring conversation because I won't really be present. Better to wait until I really want to return the phone call. If I don't want to return the phone call at all, then I need to ask myself why this person is in my life.

Not doing what I think I should applies to small things, like whether I return a phone call or attend a party, as well as large things, whether I choose to have children or not, marry, take a job, etc. I never wanted children. Hell, I didn't even play with dolls when I was little. Having children because I thought I should would have been a disaster, for both me and those poor kids. It didn't matter if society expected me to, or my parents wanted grandchildren (they didn't care), or what my husband wanted. (Before I agreed to get married I was clear with my boyfriend that I didn't want children.) All that mattered was that the idea of having children left me cold with a knot in my stomach.

The same is true about work. Should you become a lawyer or a doctor because your parents expect you to, or because this was your father's career? I don't think so. If what you really want is to be an artist, you will be unhappy being a lawyer, no matter how much money you make. Trust me. I got my MBA not because I loved business, but because it was a practical degree that I thought I should get. Now, thirty years later, I'm trying to transition into something that I actually enjoy doing. Well, it's never too late.

But better to save ourselves time and energy, and every time we hear ourselves say "I should..." stop for a moment and reconsider. Chances are we'll be much happier if we don't.

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