In Finnish(*) there is a phrase which actually carries plenty of wisdom:
Nothing is mandatory except death and taxes.
Let’s first imagine something you’d rather not do, but someone is insisting you to participate. Take Christmas shopping for example. Your significant other would like you to join her in hours of wandering in crowded department stores, but you’d rather stay home in your pajamas and play Xbox.
Basically you have four different approaches:
- You go shopping, but you feel resentful and irritated. “Here I am, in this hullabaloo, even though I don’t want to, I don’t deserve this.. let’s go home already…”
- You stay home playing Xbox, but you feel guilty and perhaps ashamed of yourself. “Here I am, kind of enjoying, but hey, I should be shopping… now I don’t have present for my godson… and my partner is probably angry at me..”
- You choose to go shopping, but not out of guilt, but perhaps because you want to spend time with your partner, and to attend to her needs of companionship and doing things together. Maybe you go shopping because you choose that your desire to buy a present to your godson is greater than your desire to relax on the sofa.
- You choose to stay home playing Xbox, but just because you chose to be honest to your need to relax. And at this time it was greater than your need to attend to your partner’s needs. Not because you have somehow deserved it or because your partner “doesn’t have the right to insist me to go shopping”.
At this point you probably know where I’m going with this. Whatever you do, choose either approach number 3 or 4. It may seem like a small thing, but the difference in attitude does have a big impact on your mood. And at the same time you’ll be more honest to yourself and the people around you.
The liberty to choose goes to all aspects of life. You don’t need to work for that stupid boss. You may choose to do so, but perhaps because you need the money. You don’t need to give your child a car ride to hobbies every night, but perhaps you choose to do so because you don’t want her to walk alone in the dark. Etc etc.
I know this is easier said than done, but it’s worth a try to change the attitude.
(*) And originally Benjamin Franklin said: “[…] but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”