GRATITUDE or ENTITLEMENT?
I have tried, this month, to intentionally speak aloud one person, thing or concept I am thankful for…every day. I have to say, when I first decided to do it I wondered if I could keep it going through the entire month…I mean, could I find something to be thankful for each day without repeating myself?
Now, in the middle of the month and heading toward THANKSGIVING DAY I am astounded at what this “practice” has done to to me.
I use the word “practice” because I’m an actor and a musician, for me that word has a significant meaning. Practice, like exercise, strengthens certain parts of body, plants (through repitition) a habit that becomes natural…and changes who you are. That’s what GRATITUDE does.
When analyzing exactly what GRATITUDE and saying “thank you” is, I find that it isn’t a weakness…it’s a strength. It is power. Being thankful:
1) releases us from the false need of having to take care of everything ourselves
2) it acknowledges our ignorance of what will happen next
3) it acknowledges the fact that every moment is an undeserved gift
4) it connects us to each other (as we are dependent on each other)
Sometimes, to define or teach a concept, I need to find the opposite concept and define it…and so, believing that the opposite of GRATITUDE is INGRATITUDE I suddenly realized that really isn’t accurate. If GRATITUDE acknowledges our dependence on God and others for everything in our lives, then the opposite isn’t INGRATITUDE, it’s ENTITLEMENT.
Where GRATITUDE releases us from the false need of having to take care of everything ourselves, ENTITLEMENT creates the illusion that we are responsible for everything. Where GRATITUDE acknowledges our ignorance of future events, ENTITLEMENT tells us that we are in control, or should be. If GRATITUDE tells us each moment is a gift, undeserved, then ENTITLEMENT tells us that the world and God owe us. Where GRATITUDE connects us to each other, by showing our need to give and receive…ENTITLEMENT separates us from each other.
I’ve found that for myself, and what I observe in others: people who “practice” GRATITUDE are generally happy, satisfied, content and joyful. Whereas, when one sees unhappy, dissatisfied, discontent and angry people (or when we see those qualities in ourselves) it isn’t surprising to find they (or we) are not practicing GRATITUDE.
The older I get, the more I realize I can only control so much. The more years I live, the more I realize that I am only as strong as those around me…I owe a debt to those people, and my God, who have given me so much.
Today I am thankful. And I leave you with my own original creed…one that I believe Jesus sings to me each day:
Every moment has its time.
Every person has their place.
Do not brush aside either.
In doing so, you may also brush aside
God’s wish for you to either
ENJOY or BE the miracle needed
In that moment, or for that person.