Have To versus Can Do

September 25, 2004

We are often just struggling. Life is something we have to
struggle through. We react, and most of the things are just
issues that we have to handle. The attitude toward life is that
we have to. Most of the things we are required to do like we
would not have a choice. But what would you do if you could
do what you want instead of what you had to?

We can live our entire life with the “I have to” state of
mind. But this has a negative connotation and a pessimistic
tone. “I’m the victim and all these things fall to me to sort
out.” This ideology is fine if you like to live this way. Yet it is
not necessary to struggle and play the victim all your life. The
circumstances may be the same and all the hardship still may
be ahead of us, but we can definitely decide which way to deal
with them.

It took me awhile to realize this point. I know others who
have done this differently and very concretely. I achieved my
realization through mental practice; I did it this way because I
knew that I could carry it out the hard way if necessary. So it
was not just simple lip service or dreaming. I started to go
through all the things that I had to do. When I have to do
something, it is out of necessity, and this means that I’m
forced into the situation—I don’t do it willingly. First I went
through my list of things I had to do and came to the conclu-
sion that I actually do not have to do anything—at all. I do
not even have to die—it will be taken care of automatically
when my time is up. So, there is absolutely nothing that I
have to do. What now?

Then I started to consider what I would like to do. What
would be important and meaningful to me? The things you
choose do not necessarily need to be fun and easy—but they
have to be truly significant to you. You can only give them a
meaning and purpose. Step by step, you can start to get an
idea of things that you regard as meaningful and things that
you can do. Up to this point in your life, if you have lived the
right way, by listening to your own intuition, it should not be
a surprise that the things you choose during the exercise
might be pretty close to the reality you are already living.
Naturally, this might not be the case. But there is a funda-
mental difference now between the old situation and the new
one—the approach and the attitude. Before the exercise, you
had to do things and now you can do those things.

Our ordinary life becomes a set of routines that we take for
granted. Our lifestyle and the choices we make are like neces-
sities and obvious things that should be. Therefore, our life
also starts to feel like a “have-to” achieving competition.
When we question the reasons for the things we do and
weigh their real purpose and significance, we may see things
differently. We start to appreciate the choices we make and
things around us. They are not necessities anymore, but
things that we enjoy and want to do. And this is a big differ-
ence. Previously, we were unhappy carrying out things and
feeling bad, but when we have been given the opportunity to
do these things and see the purpose and meaning of them, it
is a pleasure to contribute and carry them out—even the rou-
tine things.

This is a way to process things without any major crises.
Naturally, we start to appreciate things when we face choices
in a hard way. When we lose our health or have only a few
moments to live, we start to see life differently. Suddenly
there are not so many things we have to do, but instead things
we can do. It would be a shame to lose a major part of our life
because of the “have to do” attitude, especially when we could
do and experience the same things with an open mind and
positive joy of accomplishment. The choice is ours.

This is the original text, and an edited version can be found in the Fragments of Reality -book.