You really shouldn't use the word should.

The word should. It's really quite powerful. It can create disappointment in others and anger with ourselves. “Shoulds” reinforce the idea that it is wrong not to do a behavior. “Should nots” reinforce the idea that it is wrong to do a behavior. When we don't follow through on these rules, it can create a sense of guilt and shame.

Really, there are no shoulds. We have preferences. For example, I don't have to pay my electric bill. It's not a should. Yet, I prefer to have lights and a television and a way to power my computer. So, I prefer to pay my electric bill. I don’t have to do the dishes but I prefer not have ants running amuck in my kitchen. So, I prefer to do the dishes.

Try this: replace the phrase, "I should" with "I want to" or "I would prefer to.” See if it feels different.

You really should give it a try.

What are you waiting for?

What are you waiting for?

So here’s the scenario: you tell yourself that when X happens, you will do Y. I’ll start looking for a new job after I update my resume. I’ll join a gym after I start running. I’ll go back to yoga after I’ve done it at home. I’ll be happy when I get a new place, job, go on vacation or _____ (insert something you would like to be different in your life, here).

Don’t all of those things seem reasonable? Yep. Sure. Yet, how often does that first step become the barrier that keeps that second step from ever happening? Now be honest. Does Y rarely happen because you never get to X?

So maybe it’s time to skip that first step that’s getting in the way and just do that thing you want to do. Look for a new job. Join the gym. Go back to yoga class. Do the things that make you happy.

This is not about being able to delay gratification--the ability to resist the temptation of an immediate reward and wait for a later reward at a more appropriate time. Quite the opposite. Being able to delay gratification is a healthy ability. It can even be important in our lives when we have constraints that require it (financial, time or otherwise). Barring that there are any constraints, we’re simply putting off what would be good for or at least pleasing to us. And really, what is the point in that?

If we put off for tomorrow what would be good for us today, it may never happen. On that note, I’m going to start eating healthier as soon as I finish reading this great book I bought on nutrition.

To be loved. To be lovable.

On the day my son was born, I loved him. Really, the word love is not strong enough or broad enough to cover my feelings for him. I could muse about how I loved him even before he was born. That would miss my point.

The fact is that my son entered the world loved and lovable. Just by being born he was worthy of love. I didn’t gaze at him and wonder what he would do that would make him a worthy human being. I loved him. I believe that’s true of all of us. We were all worthy of love just by being born. We were all lovable when we entered the world.

And if we can concede that this is true, I have just one question: when does it stop being true? Maybe a better question is why do we tell ourselves that it does?

If you think struggling is hard, consider the alternative.

Many will argue that struggling is hard but change is harder. I argue that while change is hard, struggling is harder. Don’t believe me? Let me give you an example that calls out my preschooler.

There was a time when my beloved little boy had decided that there was nothing worse in his life than having his diaper changed. Granted, I couldn’t have agreed with him more. I mean, I think I could truly file this under the category of “ this is going to be harder on me than it is on you.” That said, I prided myself on being a bit of a quick-change artist. I could have that kid out of his diaper, cleaned, re-diapered and right back up again in under a minute–on a really good day, under 40 seconds.

On certain days, my boy would fight me about it. And when he fought, he wasn’t just verbal. Oh, no. He would twist. He would pull on the side of his changing table. He would kick and cry and wail. I would have to hold him down and turn him back over and hold him in the air while I would clean his little bottom--feet dangling and kicking. Under-a-minute easily became three-to-five-to-eight. I have no doubt it was a traumatizing experience for him. I know it was for me.

If he didn’t fight me, eight minutes of misery would have been a mere minute of discomfort.

Often, the energy that goes into resisting our reality and difficulties is greater than the energy needed for the solution itself. Think about it. Which is harder–working the weekend or complaining about working the weekend and then doing it, anyway? Is it harder to go to school or worry about going to school, argue with your parents and then go, anyway? Is it more uncomfortable to focus on your breath and lengthen it for 4 minutes or to suffer the 20 to 30 minutes of a panic attack? Is harder to look for a new job or deal with an abusive boss, day-in and day-out?

It seems obvious. In the moment, though, it takes a leap of faith. One has to trust that the new behavior, or choices, lead to something better. And so it would seem that it is not the change that is harder but the decision to trust and make the change that is harder.

Where in your life can you take a leap of faith and find some relief?