Imagine this scene. A boy has been wishing and asking for a Playstation 4 for Christmas all year long. He loves video games, and he’d love to get a job working in video games when he grows up, a career field you can learn about in this course. It’s the middle of December, and he’s walking through a store with his mom, and he points out to her exactly what he’s been wanting for the last several months. Christmas Day arrives, and the little boy is excited to open up all his gifts. There are several, and he’s opened all but the very last one: a large box that looks to be about the same size as the box a Playstation 4 comes in.
He grabs the box in anticipation. This is the moment he’s been waiting for. He tears the wrapping paper off to reveal a random box whose contents will be unknown until he opens the box. He tries to fight off his disappointment and hang onto hope. Maybe his parents are trying to play a trick on him by making him think he’s not getting the Playstation 4. He slowly opens the box, hoping he’ll find what he’s looking for. Inside the box is a used Playstation 3. The boy’s hopes are dashed. The full weight of his disappointment sets in as he mumbles a quiet, “Thank you.”
Entitlement: The Danger of Disappointment
Nobody enjoys being disappointed. In fact, frequent disappointment can lead to depression, which you can learn more about in this course. People often don’t realize how much of a role disappointment often plays in their lives, and how much better their lives could be if they could gain control over the things that bring disappointment. Here is how disappointment often plays out in people’s lives. People often live with a sense of entitlement. They feel they deserve certain things, which may be true often enough. However, living with a sense of entitlement carries with it an inherent danger. What if you don’t get what you think you deserve? In fact, it’s probably true that more often than not, people don’t get what they think they deserve. Not getting something you want is disappointing enough, as shown in the story of the boy and the used Playstation 3, but not getting something you feel you deserve brings the worst kind of disappointment. What happens when you work hard for something, but that something never materializes?
The Inability to See What’s in Front of You
While it may be true that you’ve worked hard for something and deserve to have it, living with a constant sense of entitlement can have some very negative effects in an individuals life, not the least of which is a diminished ability to see and appreciate the good things you do have. A sense of entitlement makes gratitude for the good things in life almost impossible to have. What husband is grateful for the things his wife does for him when he’s always looking for that something more he feels he deserves from her? What organizational leader will be thankful for the wins his team accomplishes when he’s constantly seeking something better he feels he deserves from them? Of course, a drive for better is good, but not when it’s at the cost of stopping to express gratitude for the good. Some people never stop to give thanks for what they have because their constant drive for more and better keeps them from being satisfied with what they have. What they have isn’t good enough if they feel they deserve more.
A Lack of Gratitude in Marriage
It should be obvious that this type of approach to life can have very adverse effects to a person’s relationships. The wife who feels her husband is never grateful for her or the things she does will develop some very negative feelings toward her husband. Many marriages are strained by one or both of the spouses operating solely from a sense of entitlement. That type of strain can quickly lead to serious marital problems and eventually divorce. If you’re suffering marriage problems, this course can give you some strategies for developing a healthier relationship with your spouse. Clearly, a lack of gratitude can be very detrimental to a person’s personal relationships.
A Lack of Gratitude in Business
Entitlement’s harm doesn’t just stop with personal relationships. Many people are unhappy in their jobs. Perhaps they long for something more. Chances are, that’s true for most people. Your current job may be one step in a journey toward your dream job. But until your dream job comes along, the job you have is the one you have to live with. Why be miserable in your job? Why be unhappy everyday with where you’re at. Maybe you deserve something better. Maybe you’ve worked hard for it. A sense of entitlement, however, keeps you from enjoying what is good about your job. If a business has hired you, they’ve given you an opportunity. Many people don’t get the opportunity to have a job. They search, and nothing turns up. If you constantly feel like you deserve more, you won’t stop to be thankful for the fact that you have an opportunity to earn a living. You have the opportunity to gain valuable experience and the opportunity to grow as an employee and as a person. A future job will look at your job history to determine if you have the skills and character to do for them what they want from an ideal employee. You don’t want them to see mediocre work from an employee who couldn’t appreciate what was right in front of him.
Words of Gratitude: The Key to Happiness in Relationships and Work
Simple words of gratitude expressed to those we love and those we work with and for can change everything. Many relational strains can be healed with just more expression of thanks. But it’s more than mere words of gratitude; it’s an approach to life that says that every good thing in life is a gift. People appreciate gifts often more than they appreciate the things they work for. Satisfaction in your job is often dependent on your ability to see the opportunities it provides and being grateful for those opportunities. Being satisfied in relationships is dependent on seeing the gift the other person is to you and being grateful for that gift.
Author Melody Beattie has a quote that captures the power of words of gratitude in a person’s life:
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”
Parenting Grateful Kids
Remember the boy who didn’t get what he wanted for Christmas? Of course, we feel bad for him. It makes sense to be disappointed when you want the latest model of something and get last year’s edition instead. What if he learned to be grateful for any gift he received? It would change his approach to opening up his gift. Maybe he didn’t get what he wanted, but he got something, and that is a gift. Parents can do an incredible service to their children and to the people their children will one day be in relationship with by raising them to be grateful children. Learn more about raising grateful children with this course.