What would it take to see the considerations, commitments and responsibilities in our lives as our riches, blessings and privileges? What can we do to remember our good fortune in having people and things to consider and tend as we move through our days?

If you are able to read this, you are someone who has responsibilities in life; things you have to do to keep your home-fires burning, body functioning, relationships tended, bank account above zero, etc. The more “mature” we become, the more our days seem filled with commitments and our decisions with considerations. Our lists of “have to’s” seem to get longer and longer.

What would it take to see the considerations, commitments, and responsibilities in our lives as our riches, blessings, and privileges? What can we do to remember our good fortune in having people and things to consider and tend as we move through our days? Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of our blessings. It can help to imagine losing or not having access to those things that can sometimes feel burdensome, and/or to remember that many people in our world do not have the gift of our choice-making or concerns.

The Practice

  1. Write down five things that you feel you have to do this week; things that are “responsibilities.” Begin each statement with the words, “I have to…” For example: wash dishes, pay bills, buy groceries, go to bed early, take medicine, commute, call someone, go to work, take care of someone, etc.
  2. Now, underneath the first list, write those same five things, but instead of the words “I have to,” begin each statement with the words: “I get to…”
  3. When you finish both lists, notice how different it feels to think that you get to do something versus you have to do it. How does this impact the energy you bring to each item on your list?
  4. Throughout your day, notice how often you say or think the words, “I have to…” and try to catch yourself and substitute “I get to…” Try to also notice how much other people use this language. Experiment with beginning to see – and claim – your responsibilities and obligations as privileges and opportunities.
  5. It can actually be quite powerful to understand many of our opportunities as privileges. It can deepen our awareness of our privileges if we consider our options in a relative context. To facilitate this, try adding this ending to each “I get to…” statement: “…when so many people cannot.” Notice how this can awaken and strengthen a sense of good fortune, compassion, and gratefulness. How might awareness of your privileges — and the fact that so many people don’t share them — move you to act?