The last week alone I've heard several clients and friends say things like:
'I should be making more money.' 'I should be settled down.' 'I should have a corporate job.' 'I should be skinnier.' 'I should be happy in my relationship.'
Well amigos, because of this and after some reflection, today I would like to declare war on the word ‘should’. Sounds ridiculous, I know. But I really do hate ‘should’ with a passion. Why? Simply because it is the culprit behind 90% of the unhappiness that I encounter as a coach.
As a society we have become so accustomed to passively accepting what life ‘throws’ at us that we have allowed ourselves to become victims of circumstance and have lost sight of our power as creators of our own reality. We spend so much time worrying about what we ‘should’ do that we lose track of the things we would actually want to do were we given a choice. Choice. Funny I should write that. We always have a choice, nobody has to give us anything. We tend to forget that too.
We are experts at chasing the job, the relationship, the paycheck, the likes on Facebook, the right jean size, etc. and we easily become disconnected and distracted from the ‘non-shoulds’ that make us truly happy. We spend our whole lives trying to create the life that we think the world expects from us rather than creating the world we actually want to live in...That sucks.
So Why is Living in the World of ‘Should’ So Bad For Us?
The world of 'should' is a world seen through a lens of scarcity rather than abundance. It's a world where our sense of validation is derived from external factors and not from within… It's a world where our success is measured by our ability to fit perfectly into society’s idea of the perfect box rather than our ability to create our own identity. Basic human needs like self-expression, creativity, and independence are undermined by the carefully crafted media and societal messages that teach us what success is and in turn determine everything we do from what we buy to how we ‘should’ look in order not to feel left out.
I guess feeling like an outsider hurts more than not being able to be yourself.
But why is that so bad? Wanting to fit in isn’t necessarily a terrible thing—we are social animals after all. Wanting a nice car and a big home doesn’t necessarily preclude you from living a fulfilled life. On that same note, isn’t it good to have goals, aspirations? Sure it is!
Where we get into trouble is when we start attaching our identities and sense of self-worth to those material goals or our ability to achieve them. After all, there’s always going to be someone wealthier and better looking, a bigger house, a faster car, and what looks like a more fulfilling relationship (at least on social media). Nothing we ever do or become will ever be good enough because our standard is artificially high and perfection is impossible. But like the good yet insecure souls that we are, we try anyway.
So how to combat this? How to give the world and our superficial society’s construct of the ideal life the finger? We look within. We get to know ourselves and take a moment to identify the difference between what we’ve been systematically fed and what actually resonates with us at our core. We learn to catch ourselves when we’re having thoughts that aren’t aligned with the things we have identified as our truth and we make a choice to change them. We choose to create the change we want to see. We choose to honor and love our imperfect selves. We choose to choose rather than simply accept and channel our energy to those who support us. We learn to love the ‘should(er)s’ from afar because there is only one ‘should’ that is actually valid and it has everything to do with us as individuals.
We 'should' be happy. We 'should' be happy from our souls happy. Easy happy. Authentic happy. Happy for the sake of happy happy. That’s the only thing we ‘should’ ever strive to be because the answer to that mystery lies in the very depths of each and every one of us and can never be found anywhere but within ourselves.
With that in mind, I ask you my dear friend...
"What ‘should’ or could you be doing to find your happy?"
***In my case, I use meditation to connect with my 'should'-free self and encourage you to find whatever works for you. If you're not sure and are curious about meditation, try this guided one by my friend, colleague, and coach extraordinaire Desi. Her voice alone is bound to make you happy!***