How to Be Thankful For Your Life by Changing Just One Word

This article is an excerpt from Atomic Habits, James Clear’s New York Times bestselling book.

My college strength and conditioning coach, Mark Watts, taught me an important lesson about how to be thankful that applies to life outside of the gym as well as inside it…

As adults, we spend a lot of time talking about all of the things that we have to do.

You have to wake up early for work. You have to make another sales call for your business. You have to work out today. You have to write an article. You have to make dinner for your family. You have to go to your son’s game.

Now, imagine changing just one word in the sentences above.

You don’t “have” to. You “get” to.

You get to wake up early for work. You get to make another sales call for your business. You get to cook dinner for your family. By simply changing one word, you shift the way you view each event. You transition from seeing these behaviors as burdens and turn them into opportunities.

The key point is that both versions of reality are true. You have to do those things, and you also get to do them. We can find evidence for whatever mind-set we choose.

I once heard a story about a man who uses a wheelchair. When asked if it was difficult being confined, he responded, “I’m not confined to my wheelchair—I am liberated by it. If it wasn’t for my wheelchair, I would be bed-bound and never able to leave my house.”1 This shift in perspective completely transformed how he lived each day.

I think it’s important to remind yourself that the things you do each day are not burdens, they are opportunities. So often, the things we view as work are actually the reward.

You don’t have to. You get to.

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