“Rehearse your victories. Remembering the good things will make you strong.” – Joel Osteen

Everyone has heart plaque.

A bit won’t kill you. It’s normal. Obviously, you want to minimize heart plaque. Let it accumulate too much, and you’re facing a seriously unhealthy condition.

This “plaque principle” isn’t just limited to our physical bodies. It applies to our minds, too (in my time as a motivational speaker, I’ve certainly learned this!).

Excessive plaque on your soul kills you emotionally. Destroys relationships. Sabotages professional opportunities. Keeps you from being your best “you.”

What determines how much plaque you’re carrying around? Your mental lens. Its prescription – how you look at the world – largely defines the amount.

Changing your perspective

Experts derived long ago that humans are programmed to focus on negativity. It’s part of our survival instinct. We’re always alert for threats. Get too comfortable 10,000 years ago, and any number of large carnivores might have made your contentment short-lived.

We don’t have those type of mortal threats anymore … yet our brains still revert to a negative perception of the world around us. This viewpoint is our reality … which is why even a minor change can have positive, life-altering results.

Last week I wrote about one: substituting “get to” for “have to” in your daily life. If you “have to” do something, you always perceive it as a drag. By contrast, if you “get to” do something, it becomes an anticipation-builder loaded with potential.

It’s easy to say, “This isn’t practical.” Perhaps it’s not. Adopting a “get to” mindset isn’t natural. Thinking this way, at least early, is equivalent to pushing a semitrailer up a 45-degree angle. If you’ve ever seen my work as a keynote speaker, maybe this is why I gyrate around so much!

Yet, a “have to” mentality turns blessings into curses. Instead of recognizing and appreciating opportunities, you view them as burdens. Do you want to be that person?

Get real? OK, if you insist

Let’s explore some examples of how swapping “get to” for “have to” changes everything:

It’s 4 p.m. Friday. Fellow employees invite you to go out after work. You reply: “Sorry, I have to have dinner with my family.”

Wow. Uninterrupted time with your family is a bad thing? Do you realize how fortunate you are, to have a spouse and/or children?

Try complaining about this to a single person who can’t find a partner. Or a widow or widower. Or a couple desperately trying to have children. Hopefully you’ll realize the better answer is: “I get to have dinner with my family.”

It’s late Friday afternoon (again). A co-worker invites you to play golf Saturday. Your answer: “I’d love to, but I have to work on that big project this weekend.”

Wait a minute. Have you considered that you’re fortunate to have a job, to earn income to support your family? Or that your employer trusts you to complete an important project? Or a customer believes in you so much that they placed a big order?

Some people can’t find work. Or wish their employer valued them more. Or are launching businesses, and just hope to stay afloat. Perhaps your alternative response could be: “I get to work on that big project this weekend.”

It’s Wednesday at 11 a.m. A friend says “Let’s have lunch. My treat.” Your reply: “Darn, I have to go to the doctor.”

Talk about a “First World problem,” to use a popular saying.

If you’re able to see a doctor, you’re more fortunate than billions of other humans. We take world-class medicine for granted. We shouldn’t.

Most people on earth don’t have access to high-quality medical care. Or they have to travel long distances. Or can’t afford it. Let’s try this again: “I get to go to the doctor.”

And the result is?

Guarding against negative thoughts isn’t easy. A simple trick like switching “Get to” for “Have to,” though, can slow accumulation of the metaphorical plaque that holds you back from enjoying a more fulfilling existence.

Others will pick up on your positive viewpoint. They might be drawn to you (no one likes being around a Gloomy Gus or a Negative Nancy, after all). You might even get some questions about your unique perspective.

Try these positive thoughts the next time you feel your mental lens go askew (my keynote presentations touch on these topics):

I want to appreciate my blessings (many of you know that I’m a man of faith)
I want to be a blessing to others (such as by supporting them)
I want to live a high quality of life

All reflect a “Get to” mentality. Hopefully, this series of articles has convinced you that it’s something you – dare I say it? – have to embrace.

About The Author

Paul M Neuberger

Paul M. Neuberger believes in making the impossible possible. A masterful speaker and trainer, he challenges people to dig deep and discover talents they never knew they had. Whether it’s working hands-on with small teams or presenting in front of hundreds of people, Paul is adept at truly connecting with his audience and getting to the heart of important issues. He has worked with leading organizations around the world to help improve effectiveness, performance, and cultivate a stronger sense of passion in the workplace. Paul is the founder and CEO of The Cold Call Coach and President of The Starr Group.

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