With all the talk of government budgets in recent months, we’ve heard a lot about “Entitlement Programs”. An entitlement is simply a right to access something, as in the case of government programs, i.e. Social Security or Medicare. What happens, then, when we have varying ideas of what each person deserves?
As I work with teenagers (and as the mother of a teenager), I see a certain degree of entitlement. The boldness of youth is the unwavering thought that desire equals merit. If I want a new car, I deserve a new car. If I want a better grade and worked hard for it, I should have a better grade. The unasked question is, “Why is good stuff not continually coming my way?”
What happens when, as adults, we give into this mentality too much? Steve Maraboli, author of Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience, says this: “A sense of entitlement is a cancerous thought process that is void of gratitude and can be deadly to relationships, businesses, and even nations.” Why is this potentially deadly? Because it replaces a giving attitude – or even a give-and-take attitude – with just taking. And it’s not hard to see how this could erode relationships, whether personal or professional.
What’s the antidote to unfettered entitlement? Gratitude. As we intentionally turn our thoughts toward the blessings we already experience in life, and as we reap the benefits of a strong work ethic, and become generous with our money, our time, and our talents, we will no longer be subject to the negative attitudes associated with entitlement.
When we concern ourselves less with what we deserve and more with how much we’ve already been given, life becomes more about confidence in our abilities, extending ourselves to others, and being acutely aware of serendipity that surrounds us.
What are you grateful for? What have you received as a direct result of working hard for it? How can you cultivate an attitude of gratitude to combat the temptation to feel entitled?