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Why do we feel obliged? What is it about the way humans work that makes us feel guilty about not doing things that we’re “supposed to do”? And why is it so hard to break away from that?

As I get older, I’ve come to realize something that is not new. Life is too short to be obliged. It’s too short to tie ourselves to people and places and things that are bringing us down and not making us happy.

Obligation, though, is not the same as responsibility. So when I say this, I’m not saying to shirk all responsibility, leave your family high and dry and live on a deserted island with Pina Coladas for the rest of your life. Which, to be honest, sounds gross and sandy.

What I’m saying is that obligation often leads to us not fully living life the way we want to live it and not being ourselves. Responsibility is the understanding that we made a choice and now have to take ownership of the people and tasks that we chose to have in our lives.

But we can also choose to remove people and things from our lives that are holding us back. We can have a small holiday with our closest friends and family and not let the extended family who no longer fits in with us ruin the day. We can quit the job that has been making us overly stressed and depressed and choose to find a job or a passion that gives us life.

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