gratitude vs. entitlement

So I did a little bit of a word search this week…

What’s the opposite of gratitude?

A casual search suggests ingratitude, thoughtlessness, rudeness, disregard, refusal, and multiple more responses.

A more creative search suggests a lack of appreciation for something given or done to you or to someone else.

It is reasonable, therefore, to include that the opposite of gratitude is entitlement.

I admit. I have multiple feelings of subtle and not-so-subtle entitlement.

For example, yesterday afternoon, moments before I was to host an online virtual meeting, my internet slowed and the connection destabilized. I was more than a little irritated that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do — what I felt I needed to do. I admit… I feel my internet should always work quickly and efficiently (… regardless of whether or not the entire globe is online and shopping at Amazon at the moment).

To be entitled is to feel a right to…

… to feel deserving of.

I get it. We feel deserving of a lot of things.

But what if right now, at this unprecedented moment in history, those feelings of entitlement are actually obstacles?

What if that sense that we deserve something, gets in the way of walking through the current pandemic in a healthy way?

And what if any entitlement we feel, keeps us from being grateful — when maybe, just maybe, intentional expressions of gratitude might be our wisest and healthiest, intentional response?

No doubt in a “glass-is-half-full” approach, there are multiple areas in which each of us can currently grow…

In our practice of courage…

This is a challenging time. As the articulate Dr. Brené Brown shares, “Courage is a habit, a virtue: you get it by courageous acts. It’s like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn to courage by courage-ing.” Maybe we need to each practice courage-ing right now… I wonder what effect that would have on our anxiety and fears…

In the practice of self-discipline… 

With calls for social distancing and to “shelter in place,” this can be hard — especially for the extroverts, sanguine, and Enneagram 7’s and 3’s! But the change in routine, isolation, and staying put isn’t easy; we have to change things we otherwise might not. However, there is no doubt that self-discipline is a very wise thing… I wonder what would happen later if more of us would learn such now…

So what if we also then grew in our gratitude?

Instead of complaining about what we don’t have, what if we were grateful for what we do?

Instead of complaining about our circumstances, what if we grateful for something within them? What if we were intent about finding that which is good?

Back to Dr. Brown for a moment, as we quote her once more this day…

“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness — it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.”

So in these trying times — when the certain is uncertain — resisting the temptation to make certain, therefore, what we cannot — how might be wise to respond?

Dare I suggest… by intentionally choosing gratitude instead of entitlement.

It’s right in front of us…

… that is, if we’re paying attention.

Respectfully…

AR

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