Two Words Guaranteed to Depress You

I Choose To!

There are Two Words we say all the time.  The Problem?  They are Guaranteed to Depress You.  What are they?

“Have To”.  

These two words are toxic to your happiness.  Really.

Let’s do an experiment to see the effect of “Have To”:   Think of something you need to do, either simple (kitchen, laundry, wash car) or complex (go to work, do your taxes.)

Now, say out loud, “I Have To __________.”, putting in what you thought of.

Notice what is going on in your mind and body?  Feels like weights on your shoulders, weights on your feet…and your brain is saying “I Don’t Want To!”

That’s amazing, isn’t it?

Try a few more…… And notice it?  “Have To” creates that same effect every time.

It’s because saying or thinking “Have To” creates feelings of being trapped, of being a victim, of resentment, or even dread.  Using “Have To” sets us up for anger and depression.  Life becomes hard.

So what can you do instead of making yourself toxic?  It’s easy.  Eliminate “Have To”, and say instead,
“Choose To”, or even “Get To”.

I know.  Sounds strange, and it’s Not the way we are taught.  We are taught things like ” We Have To pay our taxes.”

But let’s test that.  You just ask yourself, “Is there anyone who Doesn’t do that?”.  If the answer is yes, it’s not a Have To.  It’s a choice.

So are their people who don’t pay their taxes?  Sure.  But what’s the consequence?  You can lose all your possessions and go to jail.  No, Thank You!! So, “I choose to pay my taxes.”  Yes, it’s not something I enjoy, so I try to think of the good things that I like (e.g. repaired roads) that my taxes help pay for.  But it’s empowering to say “Choose To”.  It dumps the resentment, anger and depression of that “Have To”.

Let’s try a few examples of “Choose To” and notice what happens.

Please say out loud, “I choose to do my laundry”.  Almost makes you chuckle, doesn’t it?  And having clean clothes to wear is a positive benefit.  One lady I admire gives thanks when does laundry, or washes her dishes.  She thinks of having so many clothes and her nice dishes as a blessing.  That sure shifts my attitude if I do that, too.

Now say, “I choose to go to work.”  If you love your job, that works nicely.  If your job is yucky (the technical term), you might be feeling a brain jangle.  “Yikes! I am choosing This job?!!”

I have some good news about that, too.  As long as you “Have To” go to that job, you will be stuck in it, and hating every minute.  And that is a chunk of your day spent hating.  But when you say instead “I choose to go to work.”, there is a great mental shift.  Saying “Choose To” helps us see other available options.  We might start looking for that job we’d love.

And yes, I know, sometimes we don’t have a lot of options.  But “Choose To” still removes that potential toxicity of a “Have To”.  Here’s my story about that.

One summer, I needed to earn money for college.  But the only job available in my small town was as a maid in a small, rather grimy hotel.  Yuck.  But my attitude about it was “I’m choosing this job because it’s giving me money to create the future I want.”  And that “choice” talk worked.  That job still was not fun (to this day I always tip maids in a hotel), but it gave me what I needed then.  And man, could I clean a bathtub at top speed after that summer.

Now check yourself.  Are their places in your life where you would like to dump the “Have To”?  Go for it, and notice how much better you feel.  Enjoy having choices!








  1. Kathleen Kistler says:

    I have been practicing this for some time now and, you know what? I’ve actually come to love doing laundry!

  2. Andrea Williams says:

    Now that I’m retired, so many of my “have to’s” have been removed from my life. Crashing into the void came many more, all because of the “extra” time that I have. I used to push them aside, mentally saying, “No, I don’t ‘have to’ do this today; it can wait until tomorrow.”

    Now, a few days after reading this, I’ve been able to tell myself that I “choose to” get this small chore off my mental list. And I am a bit more productive and a lot more happy.

    Thank you! Terry!!!

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