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How the Word “Should” is Ruining Our Happiness


How the Word “Should” is Ruining Our Happiness

“I should go to the gym. I should skip that second glass of wine. I should go to that networking event even though I’m exhausted and haven’t slept all week…”

So runs the endless soundtrack of chatter in our minds. It’s as if the voice in our head exists for the sole purpose of keeping us in a constant state of inadequacy. By constantly focusing on what we think we should be doing, we become disconnected from what we actually are doing. It also becomes very difficult to notice what we are capable of in the moment.

The problem with the word should is that it makes us feel guilty. Should comes with all sorts of negative connotations that make us feel as though someone else is dictating what we should and shouldn’t do. Like petulant children, we often rebel against this feeling of being pushed into something. We eat pizza instead of going to the gym just to prove we can.

The “shoulds” in our lives prevent us from being able to recognize what we truly want and need. Society’s ideas about how you should live and spend your time don’t take into account each individual’s makeup. Each of us has a different wellness prescription to feel our best and it’s up to us to decide what that is.

Sometimes we need a workout, but occasionally we really need that second glass of wine with our friends. Other days we need to put ourselves first and go to sleep early so we can be on top of our game the next day.

As individuals, we need to make our own decisions. When we substitute “could” for “should,” statements become choices. The statement “I could go to the gym” becomes a possibility that could go either way. There’s no judgement if we don’t go to workout, but we may start thinking about how great we feel after hitting the gym. Without the guilt and thought of what we should do, healthy activities can become more appealing.

That’s not to say that there will never be times when we need to pull ourselves together and power through an unpleasant situation for the greater good, but that’s just part of life. However, we can still make conscious decisions about why we do what we do. Everyone deserves to make their own choices based on what works for them not what someone else thinks they should do.



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Claire Marie Carter is passionate about self-improvement as a catalyst for change in the world. A yoga class in middle school sparked her interest in all things wellness and she's practiced ever since. She writes about motivation and life lessons at clairemariecarter.com.

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