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“Have to” Versus, “Get to,” or, The Power of Gratitude in Your Life

Want a quick tip to increase happiness?

Adding gratitude into your life can be powerful.
Adding gratitude into your life can be powerful.


Many runners tend to be Type-A, rushing through the day to fit everything in.

But sometimes, just a quick reframing can be energizing.

Today I had a coaching session with a client who experienced a compelling shift. 

She stepped into a messy kitchen in a cabin during a family weekend away. Suddenly, she realized that instead of automatically thinking, “Oh, I HAVE TO clean this all up…” she reframed the thought as, “I get to do this for/with my family so that we can spend better time together.”

Once she switched the thought in her mind, she also noticed that the attitude spread to the other family members. 

Everyone worked together to get things done, and it kicked off a wonderful experience for the rest of the weekend.

How often do we rush through our day thinking that “I have to do this,” when, if we take a step back, we can instead be grateful for the opportunities we can or have? 

Life, after all, tends to be made up of the choices we’ve selected for ourselves. There’s a saying: “If you don’t like your life, make better choices.”

Gratitude has many benefits across a broad spectrum, including a more robust immune system, being less bothered by aches and pains, lower blood pressure, better sleep, feeling more alert and alive, experiencing more joy, optimism, and happiness, and being more forgiving and outgoing. 

These benefits can be obtained with just such a shift in thinking.

Sometimes if we’re mindful of the moment and think about what is going on, it can cause us to realize that we ARE too busy or stressed to enjoy what is going on. 

If the list of things for your day is a mile long, even enjoyable activities can start feeling like a “have to” instead of a “want to” or even “get to.”

Here are some simple ways to cultivate gratitude in your life:

  • Savor moments of happiness: When something good happens, really enjoy the moment and make it last. Reflecting upon these moments later has also shown to have health benefits.
  • Express it: Simply saying “Thank you” benefits the person who says it and the receiver of the thought. Make it a point for a day to state gratitude for small and large things. Note how it makes you feel.
  • Keep a gratitude journal: Making notes of what we’re thankful for daily or once a week can be a refreshing experience. This can also help guard against taking things for granted.
  • Meditate on gratitude: I’ve written about the benefits of meditation on a focused mind. There are many ways to meditate, including concentrating on what we are thankful for.

Later, I realized I had mentioned during a chat with my sister, “I have to walk the dog now.” Noting that I usually enjoy this, I reflected on my conversation with my client. 

I suddenly realized I had been preoccupied for most of the day.

So, I took a deep breath, looked out into the sunshine, and reframed the thought. “I get to walk with my dog on a peaceful evening and enjoy the scenery,” I mused. 

Due to that simple shift, instead of feeling bothered… I felt happy, smiled, and appreciated the time to head out the door with my pal.

Contact amie@runningwithlife.com if you’d like to open up your life to gratitude and more!

Until then – Keep Running with Life! -Coach Amie



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