When was the last time you checked the HT/WT ratio of your life?
Just in case my question is a little obtuse, let me explain. I am referring – of course – to your “Have to/Want to” ratio… the relationship between the things you do during your day because you HAVE TO do them and the things you do because you WANT TO.
I think each of us probably strives for something like a 0/100 ratio. That is, we hope everything we do is something we do because we want to… even if we have to do it.
I have to eat… but I also want to eat. I have to brush my teeth… but I also want to. I have to write a sermon every week (because – you know – I’m a pastor), but I also want to.
I certainly have a whole host of things on my “Have to… don’t really want to” list, including:
- Lawn mowing
- Bill paying
- Weed pulling
- Poop Scooping
- TV news-watching
… and trust me when I tell you the list goes on.
Most of us, I would guess, fluctuate somewhere within 10-15 points of the 50/50 line on any given day. But I have also talked to some folks who tell me they feel like they are living 100/0 lives where EVERYTHING is a “have to” and nothing is a “want to.”
Another word for the “have to/want to” ratio might be CONTENTMENT.
JOY works also.
Sometimes we can fall into the trap of believing that a change in the outward circumstances of our lives will be the key to improving our HT/WT ratio. We say things like, “If I could only find a different job/place to live/set of friends I would be a lot happier and more content.”
As a person on the brink of retirement, I often catch myself saying, “Once I retire, I’ll be able to do WHATEVER I WANT TO… all day long.”
And while it is true that I will be able to have MORE of the “want to’s” every day, there will still be quite a few “have to’s.” I will still have to exercise… still have to mow my grass… still have to scoop poop. (Unless, of course, I can somehow train the dogs to use the toilet! Hmmmm…)
While we scour the shelves of the “How To…” books, attend seminars, and engage expensive therapists to help us figure out ways to boost our WT numbers in relation to our HTs, the answer has been right there all along: staring us in the face.
Some wise guy once said, “The key to happiness lies not in getting what you want, but in wanting what you get.”
Socrates put it this way: “He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.”
What it really boils down to is the ancient virtue of GRATITUDE… Being grateful for every day, every relationship, every task, and every breath that enters our lungs. In fact, I am willing to bet there is someone in the world right now who would be tickled to death to have the task of cleaning up his/her back yard after their dog(s).
To emphasize the importance of gratitude, the Bible repeats the command to “give thanks” a total of 61 times in both Old and New Testaments. 1 Thessalonians gets a little more extreme when it tells us to: “… give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”(1 Thess. 5:18, NRSV).
That’s right: ALL circumstances.
Even when you are working out.
Even when you are mowing the lawn.
Even – I suppose – when you are scooping poop.