The Tyranny of “Should”

“Should” is a tyrant. It’s Amazing Amy from Gone Girl. It pushes you to be more self-disciplined, and at times, a better version of yourself; it can get you to finally floss, go to the gym and write thank-you cards. Sometimes all in the same day.

But it can easily take over your life, too.

Shauna Niequist calls “should” a warning sign in her new book, Savor, and it couldn’t be more true: How often have you, under the good-samaritan guise of “should,” allowed yourself to be completely miserable? To do something that bores you, just because it’d make someone else happy, or deep down, you just don’t want to disappoint him or her, no matter how minor the letdown?

This week, I’m taking note of every time “should” pops into my head and seriously evaluating:

  • How much do I want to do this?
  • What’s the true, honest benefit to doing it?
  • Will I be spreading myself too thin if I say yes?
  • Will I be a sour-faced curmudgeon before/during/after this?

The last one is crucial, because I’ve found most people would rather deal with the fleeting disappointment of a quick “no,” than spend even half an hour with a grumbly whiner.

There are certain annoyances in life we just have to suck it up and deal with, but that doesn’t mean every request needs to be met with a yes. This week, how about we all let ourselves off the hook, okay?

201502-savor-bookRead more of Shauna’s insights in her just-released book, Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are.  This post is part of Life Between Weekends’ Tuesday Takeaway series. Every Tuesday, we’ll share the most compelling insight we’ve gleaned from a book, movie, tour, documentary or article to inspire you during the workday. 

Photo: Matthew Wiebe/Unsplash

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