Gratitude versus Entitlement


As a parent of two young children (seven and eight years old), I feel like I am constantly experiencing the struggle between gratitude and entitlement. If you have children around this age range, I am sure that you experience this dynamic as well.

Last week, we decided to go to Chuck E. Cheese. I had a bag of tokens left over from our last trip to allow for each child to have at least 90 minutes of game play. While they were playing, they were having fun and enjoying each moment. When it was time to leave, a curious thing happened (actually, not so curious if you have kids around this age). They both wanted more! They wanted ice cream. They wanted more tokens. If you listened to the tone of how their needs were being expressed to me, you may have gotten the impression that I was shirking my responsibilities for fulfilling their basic human rights.

When I started to reflect on this, I actually found the situation somewhat amazing. Here were two loving, kind and spirited human beings who were experiencing dissatisfaction since they could not have more. Both of these people entered the gaming area with something of substance. Their game tokens were free to them. There was nothing required of them beforehand to earn this fun event. It was just supposed to be a good time.

The more I thought about this, I realized that I battle with my own inner 8 year old on a regular basis. In our daily life, most of us start the day with wealth and abundance. Most of us have air to breath, shelter to stay warm, clean water to drink and adequate food to eat. For these daily necessities, we could all benefit from feeling satisfaction and gratitude. However, most of us (including myself) take these things for granted. These things are similar to my kid’s tokens, we get so use to having them that we can forget that they are special. Not only can we forget to feel gratitude for the basics, we may feel dissatisfied for not having more. We may feel frustrated that our morning coffee is cold, our car that gets us to work is too old or we did not get the exact birthday present that we expected. We may feel that we are all entitled to more than the basic necessities of life.

When we get our kids to get ready for bed, my wife and I often lay down with them for a little while to help him feel safe and secure. During these moments, we are all appreciating the basics of family life. We say “I love you”, we share hugs and we talk about all the good things that happened during the day. We experience gratitude for each other and for the moment.

The next time that you are stuck in a long line for you morning coffee, remember that you can choose to experience gratitude that you have enough money for coffee. The next time that you have a frustrating experience at work, remember that you can choose to be appreciative to have a job. The next time you feel frustrated when you kids are clamoring for ice cream at Chuck E. Cheese, you can choose to experience gratitude for the love that those children have brought into your life.

Influence:   The more grateful you are, you increase your chances of other’s appreciating your gratitude. If you are frequently grateful for what you receive at work or from your friends, there is a greater chance that those around you will continue to share their friendship, support and good ideas.

Control:   Only you can control how grateful you feel. Gratitude is a chosen response that can be developed into a habit. If you feel that it is a challenge to experience gratitude for everyday things, experiment with keeping a gratitude journal where you force yourself to list at least five things you are grateful for.

Pragmatic Explanation:   When you are grateful for another person’s generosity, you are providing that person with a social reward, which will increase the likelihood of future generosity.  Additionally, adopting a focus of gratitude encourages you to collect data of all the good that you see in the world, which can improve your overall worldview.

Metaphysical Explanation:   Gratitude elevates you energy love so you are more in alignment with the creative force of the universe. Being more in alignment will cause more good to come to you.

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5 Comments to “Gratitude versus Entitlement”

  1. After reading this entry, I think you really would like my upcoming book “The Orples Make A Tree Home”. One of the lessons in the book is that there is a difference between appreciation and expectation. The orples start to ‘expect’ Jack to be there for him and he begins to feel used. Toward the end of the book, Jack fulfills his promises to his little friends, then doesn’t show up for about a week. When he does return, the orples are made aware that he was feeling used. Of course, all is forgiven, lesson learned, and they ride off together singing songs of friendship. I’m really not trying to make this a sales pitch, but thought I should mention the book here because your point and the point in my book are pretty much the same. Kids can pick up valuable lessons from their imaginary friends. Having raised three boys of my own, and now having grandchildren, I look for wholesome stories with ‘moral’ values incorporated into the stories whenever possible. It never hurts to reinforce values. Anyway, I look forward to reading more of the articles you have posted as time allows. This particular post caught my eye for obvious reasons.

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