Do things because you WANT to, not because you HAVE to!
Why do I do whatever I do? This is a question worth asking, often and with awareness. The manner in which one internalises WHY they do WHAT they do, makes a huge difference to HOW they do it.
Let’s take two examples that are very common:
Cooking (Oh! every day! cooking!)
Working for money (Oh! I have to work for my family!)
For all those who do the cooking. Time and again, I come across people who complain that they “have” to cook “every day” and that there is “no respite.” And most make it to be as though it is a chore, and an imposition on them. And some even make disparaging remarks about those whom they cook for and how they don’t help and the like.
For those who are the “breadwinners” – they complain that they are sacrificing a lot, and putting themselves to a great deal of trouble to provide the best for their families – that that have to compromise on a lot of things in the process, not the least their personal wishes, dreams and the like. And some, maybe even a majority, take on a very condescending and patronising attitude towards those whom they take care of, with their earning. And some go to the extent of making comments that indicate that the persons they provide for are parasites! And some behave as though they are “entitled” to special benefits because of their being the person who brings in the money needed!
Let’s take a slightly different view of both these.
“Providing nourishment,” instead of “HAVING to cook everyday”
Instead of thinking that you “have” to cook food for those at home, look at WHY you are doing it. Is it because you want to? Maybe, if you consider that you are a person who regularly prepares food and nourishment for those whom you care for, thereby enabling their well-being, you are doing something that matters to you. That’s because those whom you prepare food for, are those you care for, and love. So, ask yourself, “Why am I cooking? Is it because I want to? Or because I HAVE to?” And whilst thinking about the answers, also consider this, "If I cook because I WANT to, then those eating will eat because they LIKE to, and appreciate it. If I cook because I HAVE TO, then most likely those eating will eat it because they also HAVE TO." The intention behind every action makes all the difference.
“Fulfilling one’s responsibilities” rather than “working for money”
Instead of looking at it as “working for money” or “serfdom” or as a person referred to “selling one’s soul for money,” it might be more useful to consider what one does as taking necessary steps to fulfil one’s responsibilities. In my work with executives, entrepreneurs and people from across the spectrum, sometimes I come across the common complaint – “I have had to compromise on my values to provide for my family.” During such times, I draw their attention to the simple truth, that when someone says “they have had to compromise on their values, they are not really being honest.” It just means that they have prioritised their survival and those of their loved ones over their other stated values. Or when someone continues to work in a company even though their values are compromised, it just means that they take their need for money, for whatever purposes it might be needed, is at a higher priority than the values they say are being compromised. It just might mean that their "value" or "responsibility" of taking care of their family, is being prioritised over other values that might have been compromised.
So even in these circumstances, the person is choosing to behave in a certain way! And understanding and adopting this approach of choosing consciously, might apply to and make a difference to everything in life. And yes, it is important to be grateful for everything in life including the fact that one is able to provide for another, money, food, clothing, and the like.
Now, let’s take a look at this from the other perspective, that of the person who is the receiver of the actions done by others. In the first example, that of the consumer of the food, and in the second, the user of the services rendered, or the person being taken care of.
Anything and everything a person does is what they CHOOSE to do! The choice is made with awareness and thought, or made unconsciously without awareness. There's nothing anyone HAS to do! Except that, as my friend Kichu told me a long time ago, “the ONLY thing anyone who's born HAS to do is die!” So anything and everything that a person does is what they choose to do. Might not be apparent and that's the truth, for the most part.
Even a tree that gives flowers and fruit, does so for its own benefit. How could that be possible may be the question in your mind. When a tree creates fruits that are the food for other beings, those beings, carry the seed with them and help the seed travel to a different location. Nature has this built into every organism. If the seeds of a tree were to fall close to it all the time, chances are that the younger trees might not grow well. As they say, it is very difficult for anything to grow in the shadow of a large tree. The eater of the food is actually helping the tree preserve its lineage! And so, the tree must be grateful to the eater, as the eater is to the tree for providing food!
So, if that's the truth, then being grateful for everything that anyone does for me is most important. Whether it's my mother, father, children, husband, wife, brother, sister, friend or anyone else family, friend or stranger. There's no entitlement. Even if someone is paid to do something, there can be an "expectation" - yes; and there can be no "entitlement." Whether an employee, service provider and the like. This is however not applicable when someone enters into a contract and then reneges! And so, even if someone is paid to do something, thank them truthfully when they do it.
As the doer of any task, remember that you have a choice in every moment. You can choose to do it because you want to, or believe that you have no choice and that you have to. The truth is that you have a choice and whatever you do, is for your own benefit finally. So, thank those who give you an opportunity to feel good about yourself. If you cook food, thank those who eat it. If you are a teacher, thank your students. If you are a doctor, thank your patients. I came across this statement a while ago, which encapsulates the reason very well - “Anything that is said or done, is said or done, for the good and benefit of the sayer or the doer!” So, thank those who give you an opportunity to feel good about yourself.
As the recipient of anything, food, clothing, money, shelter, gifts, remember to be very grateful. And thank the persons involved. Genuinely, sincerely and with true love for what you have received. And remember that you are doing this for your own sake and benefit. Why? Feeling gratitude helps you, the one who feels it. Expressing it genuinely helps the other. Therefore, expressing gratitude helps at least 2 people feel better, appreciated and maybe healthier as well.