THE BLOG
09/29/2015 12:37 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

This Three-Letter Word Will Change Your Life

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How many times a week do we feel overwhelmed? Stressed? Stretched too thin and pinched for time? At one particularly painful season in my life, I found myself dreading each day. The to-do list had grown too long to manage and my heart had been too hurt to heal. I was sinking, and the very act of breathing brought pain.

It was time for realignment. I took a deep, hard look at the woman I was becoming. Despite my best efforts, this life was about to push me past the tipping point. I was on the brink of becoming another stressed-out, overworked, run-myself-ragged, heart-broken fool. Something had to give.

On my refrigerator was a photo of my younger self, smiling and holding a child in each arm. When the photo was taken, I was a work-from-home mom of two toddlers. Friends often asked me how I was always so happy. Why did I never complain?

But standing there in my kitchen, looking at the photo, I barely recognized the happy, free-spirited mother in the frame. I had sighed through the morning, frantically fixing breakfast for the children who had since become temperamental teens. Where had that grateful heart gone? And more importantly, how could I get her back?

The answer was simple.

Somewhere along the way I had shifted my perspective. I had begun to look at my long list of obligations and complain, saying, "I have to do X, Y, Z." Once upon a time, that smiling young mother would have seen it differently.

So, I made a change.

I replaced one four-letter word with a three-letter word, and everything came back to good. That's all it took. The shift of one teensy-weensy little word. And voila! My once shriveling soul was smiling again. And still is.

Now, instead of saying, I HAVE to do x, y, z... I say I GET to do x, y, z.

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Today, I GET to go to the grocery store. How grateful I am that I have access to good, healthy food for my family. I don't have to risk my life to find it in a war zone. I don't have to sell my body to earn the money to eat. I have access to clean water, safe food, and everything I need to provide for my family today. And for that, I smile.

Today, I GET to do farm jobs. Cleaning chicken coops, weeding the gardens, and feeding livestock are not the cleanest tasks in the universe. And true, my humble Mississippi farm may not be prime real estate in the eyes of many. But how grateful I am that I have two hands to get dirty, two feet to get tired, and a little patch of land to call our own. For that, I smile.

Today, I GET to take my children to and from school. Yes, carpool can take a little time in the day, but how grateful I am that my teenagers still want to be seen with me. That they have the capacity to learn and grow and develop friendships and go out into this great, big, wonderful world carrying the love I have poured into them. For that, I smile.

Reading the list of what I get to do today makes it sound as if I have the perfect life. Indeed, that is the point.

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Feeling stressed? Overwhelmed? Stretched too thin? Frustrated by life's challenges? Try this simple adjustment and see if it helps. Next time you sigh and complain that you HAVE to do something, adjust to use that special three-letter word. You GET to do something. And aren't you grateful?

For that, I hope you smile.

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