I have a bad case of the “must”. There are probably millions of people who have it too. For instance, we “must” have our morning cup of coffee to function properly. People say you “must” read 50 Shades of Grey to understand what all the talks are about. Fitness freaks say they “must” exercise or they feel the day is wasted.
What does must mean? Must can be defined as a requirement, obligation or necessity. “Humans must eat to survive” is a strong, factual, statement. Then there’s “I must say, that is a lovely hat”. Statements like that make the word “must” lose its value. Here’s why, it’s not necessary for you to say that’s a lovely hat, it’s a nice gesture, but it’s not necessary. What’s the worst that could happen if you said “That’s a lovely hat” and left out the “I must say” part? I’m pretty sure there would be no harm done.
My most recent case of the “must” hit when I was on a morning run. I told myself, “You must run for an hour and a half.” It started off great then around the 42 minute mark my footsteps got heavy. I decided to stop pounding the pavement, turned right, made my way to the beach and ran on the sand instead. 45 minutes down, 45 to go. While running, a sharp pain went through my knee and ankle. I glanced down at my watch, 56 minutes in, 34 to go. My mind said, “Don’t stop, you must keep going.” And so I did. My pace slowed down, sweat dripped from my body but despite the high temps and humidity the morning run continued. For the next 30 minutes, my eyes were glued to the clock. Finally, it read 1:30. The run stopped and I stretched my sore body. I could have stopped or walked at anytime during the run but didn’t. Why not? Because it was set in my mind that I must run for an hour. My body will regret it later.
We can put unnecessary pressure on ourselves when we use “must”. Must is an authoritative word and should be used to stress important matters. I must say, it loses it’s validity when used lightly. You see what I did there? So let’s restore the value of the word “must” and start using words like shall, may, can or will to discuss trivial matters. We need to do this, we have to, We must!