Could versus Should

“She saw the world not as it was, but as it could be.”

This is how the narrator introduces us to the heroine of last year’s live-action Cinderella, who clearly views the world the same way I do. I practically preened as I heard this line in the theatre, and it landed on my heart.

Disney, I thought, you magnificent storyteller, you’ve done it again. You’ve put my exact thoughts into a movie!

It’s so lovely, isn’t it? It’s such a beautiful perspective. It’s a simple, albeit gentle and noble outlook on life, full of hope and possibility. It’s generous and kind, and I totally want to believe this is the lens through which I view life.

If I’m being entirely honest, though, which I aim to be, as often as I have a choice (and that damn choice is available all the frigging time, it turns out), then I have to fess up: I’m not reciting the line exactly the way it was written. I do a little paraphrasing in my version.

While neither of us sees the world as it is, Cinderella saw the world as it could be, while I, on the other hand, see the world as it SHOULD be.

I confess to often coming from “shoulds” disguised as “coulds”. I come from a place of trying to do everything the right way, so as to be perfect, and expecting everyone else to be, too. And, just for the record, I mean perfect according to me (which is obviously the only right way to be).

There’s a real benefit to should-ing all over ourselves: We get to be right in a world that’s doing it all wrong. We get to struggle and fight to make it right (where it = everything).

In the land of Should, we get to be a victim. This is great, by the way, if you want to be a victim, because there is no shortage of stuff to be a victim about when living in the land of shoulds. Like Atlas, we can push that rock uphill all day long, and start all over again the next day. Yay! More struggle!

Could versus should. Changing this one little word has a big impact on my life, and on my world. Yours too.

“Could” is optimistic and full of possibility.

“Should” is judgmental and full of righteousness.

“Could” creates options. “Should” restricts them.

“Could” creates space. “Should” squeezes our world and shrinks our perspective.

“Could” creates the opportunity for magic. “Should” kills it.

“Could” comes from curiosity; “should” comes from what we already know, and implies there’s a right way, which means there’s also a wrong one.

"Could" creates space for invention, innovation, imagination and improvement. "Could" creates space for hope, which, combined with action, can create positive change, even miracles.

What could happen, if you were willing to let go of “should”?