Monday, January 26, 2009

Do you know what is worse than taking things for granted?

In my last blog, I wrote about “The Opposite of Gratitude.” That, of course, is taking things for granted. However, the discussion doesn’t end there. Unfortunately, there is something worse than taking things for granted and I feel it needs to be addressed. That something happens all too often and at a great cost to the perpetrators and to the world around them. That ‘something’ is feeling “entitled.”

The dictionary defines entitle as:

1. grant somebody right: to give somebody the right to have or to do something ( often passive )
2. give title to something: to assign a title to something such as a book ( usually passive )
3. award somebody honor: to confer an official position or honor on somebody
that brings a particular title with it

The fact is that nobody is automatically entitled to anything. As defined above, being entitled to something, or feeling entitled is never something one can determine for one’s self. Entitlements must be granted from one person or entity to another. Yet, we see people all the time who behave in such a way, that clearly they feel entitled to do so.

We recognize them as:

The person who takes up two parking spaces.
The person who cuts in front of others at the check stand.
The person who is just down right behaving badly and treating others badly too.
The one who takes things because they feel they deserve it….are entitled to it.

Feeling entitled, that sense that “I deserve it” or “I shouldn’t have to”, comes at a great price. That price is that the “Entitled One” is deprived of any and all opportunity to experience gratitude. Think about it. If one feels deserving or entitled to something, why would he be grateful for it?

This absence of gratitude deprives one from appreciating anything and everything. Without appreciation, nothing is of real value and if nothing is of value, if nothing has meaning, then what is its purpose?

This is very different than taking things for granted. Taking things for granted suggests a lack of consideration. Unfortunately, what happens all too often is that we take for granted that which we value dearly. In order to feel entitled or deserving of something, there must be some consideration. What is missing from the consideration is the value or appreciation of the entitlement.
There are three keys to waking up happy every day.
1. Be grateful for as much as you can.
2. Take as little for granted as possible.
3. Know that you/we are not entitled to anything. Everything is a gift.
Everything is a privilege.

Thank you for letting me share my thoughts with you. If I have made one person’s life a little better today, than my life is better too.

Participate. Make a difference. Live a life that matters.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Because you are amazing. Because you are special. Because you are YOU!

This video takes a few minutes to watch (16 minutes) and is well worth it. If you are like me, get a tissue before you get started.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Opposite of Gratitude

Over the past several years I have become keenly aware of what the opposite of gratitude is. That is, taking things for granted. We all do it. As a practical matter, we cannot possibly feel or express gratitude for everything we have and all the things we do. The roads we drive on, the utilities we enjoy, the fact that we have elbows (imagine your life without them!) are all benefits we enjoy and we rarely stop to consider our gratitude for them and how they affect our lives. We take them for granted.

The question is what else do we take for granted? We each have to decide that for ourselves. I know what they are, or were for me: people and abilities.

Losing some physical abilities has caused me to savor the ones I have. I used to jog a 5K almost daily and do a 20 mile jog on the weekend. Now, I don’t walk well and need to use a walker or wheelchair everywhere I go. Jogging was something I loved to do and was an ability that I took for granted. Today, I am grateful for all the physical abilities I do have and don’t take them for granted.

My life, my entire world is filled with incredible people. Some are constants, like my family and friends. Others come and go. Today, I am much better at feeling and expressing my gratitude to and for them and the difference they make in my life. In fact, I have learned that a key to successful relationships is the ability to experience and express gratitude.

We take money, the ability to travel, peace and freedom, technology and so much more for granted and it is easy to do. All of these privileges and so many more have become ordinary, customary and life as we know it. The cost of taking it all for granted is that we lose our appreciation, thereby diminishing their value. This is true for privileges and people too.

We have all heard someone say “I feel like he/she takes me for granted.” That seems to be the universal experience of relationships that are in trouble. This is true at home and at work. Where gratitude is present, being taken for granted is not.

I have been married for 28 years and am more in love with my wife today than I was on the day we married. Is our life more difficult today? Yes, in some ways. Do I take her for granted? Probably. But that pales in comparison to the gratitude I feel and express to her every single day…..and do you know what? She expresses it towards me too. Our ability to feel and express gratitude toward one another has taken our marriage to a new place, one that we may not have found without the lessons we have learned about gratitude.

Gratitude requires two things of us. We have to feel it and be able to express it. Unexpressed gratitude towards the people who matter in our lives is useless. Taking things for granted requires nothing from us, but the cost of doing nothing may be more than we realize.

Do the opposite of taking things for granted. Experience and express gratitude and enhance the value of every privilege and person you value. You, and the people who matter to you, will be glad you did.

Participate. Make a difference. Live a life that matters.