Joy vs. Obligation

snowy front yard

This time of year, as the holidays approach, my thoughts turn to the topic of joy vs. obligation. Here’s what I mean…

We humans do stuff. All kinds of stuff. Our lives are full of stuff we “have to do.” But do we really? Are we doing things out of joy, or out of obligation? This crucial distinction can impact the quality of your life.

Yes, we live in this world (for now) and there are certain non-fun things we have to do. Let’s take laundry, for an example. I can’t think of anyone I know who enjoys doing laundry. It’s something we humans just have to do. But try turning “I hate doing laundry” into “I like having clean clothes to wear.” Or “I love it when my clothes are warm from the dryer.” Or “It’s a blessing to have a closet full of nice, clean clothing.” Take that obligation and view it from a perspective of joy.

If the majority of your activities are done out of obligation rather than joy, you may start to feel the strain of this in your physical body. Notice where in your body you feel pain or discomfort. What does this pain keep you from doing, or make it difficult for you to do? It’s likely a task that you don’t really want in your life. Can you take a break from this activity in order to give your physical body a chance to heal? Perhaps you’ll find a different way of accomplishing the task, one that is more in alignment with your joy. Or you may find that you didn’t really need to be doing the dreaded task at all, and were just stubbornly holding on to it out of a misplaced sense of obligation. (I speak from experience here!)

Trying saying this out loud: “I choose a life of joy, not obligation.” Then, one by one, look at each “have to do” in your life. Can you change your perspective on the task to take it from an obligation to a joy? Can you change the way you accomplish the task to make it more fun, more joyful? Can you give it up altogether? If you give this a try, let me know what happens!

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