Saturday, August 23, 2008

Liquid Shoulds

I was in an environment this week in which drinking a liquid of any kind, including water, was banned. After the initial shock of forbidding water in 85 degree weather wore off, my shoulds took over. See, after an unfortunate encounter with dehydration last year, I learned my lesson about the value of drinking water, constantly. It is not only important to me now for medical reasons, but the implementing of an anti-water policy appeared random and petty.

So when this gauntlet came down, my knee-jerk response was anger and outrage. Fortunately, I have learned that when my righteous indignation is kicked up, it is much to my benefit to ask myself some questions outlined in "Absolutely Should-less" before acting up. I focused on the should: They shouldn't be trying to stop me from drinking water.

"How did you learn they shouldn't try to stop you from drinking water?"
I learned this from my doctor. But I also think there has to be some sort of law that protects you from being dehydrated. I can't think of any other place where I am told I can't drink water.

"How does it feel to think this should?"
Angry, stressed, and rather thirsty.

"Who profits or benefits from this should?"
I suppose Dasani water does pretty well from my water consumption. But when I get angry and stressed like this, it definitely affects my sleep. So I'm sure Starbucks also profits from my righteous shoulds. Eventually if I get upset enough then I'm sure my doctor will end up profiting, as well as the company that makes whatever medicines he may need to prescribe, (which would defeat the purpose of drinking lots of water anyway).

"Who would you be without this should?"
I'd be much more at peace, much more relaxed, able to actually take appropriate action effectively instead of ranting aimlessly.

"And do you want to be right or happy today?"
After indulging in some righteousness, I decide to have happiness.

And with this last question, I was reminded I have a choice. I could be that angry stressed out guy, or I could access peace at any moment I wanted to. I chose the latter. And with that peace, I went to my doctor, got a note, brought it back to the environment, and have been happily drinking water ever since.

Many mistakenly operate under the notion that being at peace means you do nothing when approached with conflict. I have known plenty of political activists who believe the only way to bring about social change is to constantly should others. The only problem is, shoulds NEVER are effective in opening up people's minds, or their hearts.

In my case, it was clear that my shoulds were leading to more suffering. So I chose an easier path. I chose to be happy. And from a place of happiness, not anger, I took the appropriate steps I needed to take to stand up for myself and my right to hydrate.

Now I'm going to enjoy a tall glass of ice water. Thank you for reading!


Michael said...

It's great to see the principles in practice. I've gotta say, the banning of beverages seems rather odd. Was there a rationale given?

Damon L. Jacobs said...

The rationale was that water can lead to harder things -- like Sprite, Coca-Cola, or Gatorade. And the problems with these drinks is that hey can potentially lead to bugs. I kid you not.