My life is full of obligations. Work, errands, chores, bills. Not unlike anybody else’s life. I choose to separate out what I have to do from what I want to do, but a habit that stems from childhood propels me to get the stuff I have to do finished before I have the privilege of doing the stuff I want to do. More often than not, I run out of time, and the fun lands on the back burner. Sound familiar?

There is, however, a grey area. It lives somewhere between the chores and the fun, and it sometimes makes a “want to” turn into a “have to.” I call this the “ought to.” I ought to see how my cousin’s new baby is doing, but I really don’t want to get into a 30 minute phone conversation. I ought to check in on my elderly neighbor, but his judgmental pronouncements annoy me. I ought to call that old friend who only wants to talk and never listen.

One of my personal goals is to try and eliminate the “ought tos” from my life. I ask myself whether they bring me joy, and if they don’t, I look for ways to phase them out.

Joy is not overrated.

When conflicts with friends or family members cause you to lose the joy in those relationships, it’s probably time to re-evaluate the relationships. Sometimes, an effective conversation might be all that’s needed. An agreement to disagree and move forward, perhaps.

If you need help cleaning up the mess of an old conflict, a Mediator can facilitate the conversation.

While I recognize that we all have relationship obligations, where we do have a choice, I’m going to opt for joy. It’s a process, first figuring out what brings me joy and what doesn’t, and then doing the weeding out. But at the end of the day, I savor the joy. And I’m grateful for it.

Nancy Gabriel

Mediation Around The Table

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