Anti-Entitlement (aka Gratitude)
|Image Credit: Curious Cortex|
The BIG THOUGHT in this LITTLE POST:
If you're not feeling grateful, it's because you're feeling entitled.
(I KNOW. I'm so SORRY for that uncomfortable truth bomb.)
You might balk at that idea, because entitlement is such an ugly word; a word that has been weaponized (and used with a heavy hand against all the Karen's in the world).
But the truth is, when we're not feeling GRATEFUL, it's because we feel ENTITLED to something we think we're owed but don't have.
The solution: stop comparing.
Ok. That's the IDEAL solution, but since we humans are constantly comparing ourselves here's the other (perhaps more realistic?) solution: compare yourself to those who have less.
Now. We're not comparing in a judgemental way; that's not the point of this exercise.
We're looking at the very real fact that there are a lot of people in this world who are "have not's" and our ability to take anything we have for granted makes us a "have."
Example: You're reading this on some sort of device; computer, laptop, tablet, or phone. Whatever the item is, you're holding a miracle in your hand; a small electronic gadget that somehow connects you to all the people and all the information in the entire world.
But not everyone has access to their own information portal; some people need to go to the public library to use a computer, some people can't afford smart phones. (Some people still have LANDLINES...O-M-G.)
|Image Credit: The New Yorker|
Taking things for granted (aka feeling entitled) is the result of comparing what we have to what those around us have, and feeling that we're somehow coming up short; that if everyone else has this, then we should have it too. (That's why social media is such a hellscape - most of the opportunities for comparison are to those who "have" to the extreme, making the viewers think that having a private jet / leisurely lifestyle / talentless fame is the the norm.)
If you feel like you're not measuring up, change the yardstick.
At my current job, I'm working a (nearly) entry-level position. The work I do needs to get done, but it's not particularly important work. There are days when I despair, when I grow bored and restless, and when I take my employment status for granted.
Then I remind myself to be grateful to have a job. I used to work as a corporate events manager, and then COVID put a stop to that quick, fast, and in a hurry.
I was unemployed for 13-months.
When I remind myself of the absolute desperation I felt towards the end of my unemployment period, I'm able to feel grateful for my current job, and I remind myself of the fact that although I don't love the work, my co-workers are seriously awesome. This is one of the best and most supportive teams I've ever worked on, and my manager is one of the best I've ever worked for.
There's always a silver-lining, always something to feel grateful for.
Aside from all the above-mentioned positive aspects of my job, I remind myself to look at the "have not's." When it comes to employment, looking at the client-service industry is a good place to start.
We often don't see the people who serve us in our day-to-day lives; the cashier at the grocery store or the person stocking shelves. The server in the restaurant. The gas station attendant. The tech-support person on the other end of the line.
But take a good look; the service industry is often populated by adults. Yes, there are teenagers who are there just holding down a part-time job. But I'm seeing more and more grown-ups working full-time for minimum wage and likely trying to support a family on that.
Another place to look: any soup kitchen or homeless shelter. These people have, for one reason or another, fallen on hard times and they can't afford to eat. THEY CANNOT AFFORD TO EAT. Eating is the most basic of human needs - without food there is no life - and these people don't even have that. They can't even take their next meal for granted.
Some of them - because of mental-health or addiction issues that they're unable to get help for - can't manage the basic aspects of organizing their lives, like holding down a job, paying rent, buying groceries, let alone taking a daily shower.
When I remember to look around, I remind myself that there are people who cannot even dream of having the life I currently take for granted.
If we're going to look at the "have's" then we need to also look at the "have not's" because even on our worst days, we have things to be grateful for.
Example: I take my eyesight for granted. I take it as a given that when I wake up in the morning and open my eyes, I will SEE the world around me and that I get to experience the visual aspects of life.
But I have a good friend who's blind and he doesn't get to experience the visual world. He knows what he's missing because the loss of his eyesight was gradual and he didn't become completely blind until he was in his 40's. (I wrote and narrated his story, in case you're curious.)
He's one of my heroes because although he's had his sight taken away, he's still involved in life; perhaps because he lost his sight, he knows not to take any of the senses or capabilities he has left for granted. As such he plays hockey (yes, you read that right), among all of the other amazing things he does. He does more as blind man than most sighted people I know. Because he doesn't take the abilities he has left for granted. Because he appreciates what he can still do instead of focusing on what he doesn't have and can't do.
|Image Credit: Washington Blind Hockey Club|
So when I write my gratitude list every morning, even if I'm in a bit of rough patch, where the world looks grey and I can't think of anything to be grateful for, I know that I can always come back to the basics: my five senses. I'm grateful that I can see. I'm grateful that I can hear, that I can feel, that I can taste, that I can smell.
I remind myself that there are people in this world who can't take their senses for granted because either through a birth-defect or a life-tragedy, they've lost one or more of them.
I write a daily gratitude list because I need to remind myself everyday not to take anything for granted, and never to feel entitled. (And when I find myself feeling entitled, I check myself and ask "Where in this situation am I taking something for granted?")
I grew up in an environment of abuse, surrounded by negativity, with angry people living in fear and lack, so I have to WORK for my positivity, I have to work for my attitude of gratitude. And that's why I write a daily gratitude list; it's a practice that has over time re-trained my brain to look at the positive side of things, and keep my eyes peeled every day for opportunities to be grateful.
Everything can be taken away overnight; your job, your eyesight. Anything. At any time.
You never know.
You never know because the best and worst thing about life is that it can turn on a dime, and no one promised us tomorrow.
Gratitude is the antidote to entitlement; because you cannot feel entitled while feeling grateful.
Gratitude is how you get more of everything; because feeling grateful for what you have creates space for more to come to you.
Gratitude is how you "turn a frown upside-down:" because even in your worst moments, there's something to be grateful for.
I've heard it said that the greatest prayer we can ever utter is "Thank You."
So everyday, I say:
Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.
Everyday I sit and pray
Cuz what I have is
More than I deserve
Or could ever imagine
How do I give back
To all of this magic
And spread the love
So everybody can have it
Doesn't matter if I'm rich or poor
If I gotta family or if I'm all alone
Bad things happen I can just complain and moan
But there's a million things that I can be grateful for
So I lift up my hands now
And I open my heart
And my gratitude goes out
To everything near and far
All that I am
All that I see
All that I've been and all that I'll ever be
Is a blessing
It's so amazing
And I'm grateful for it all, for it all