“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.” ―Melody Beattie
“What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.” ― Brené Brown
I hear a lot of educators these days talking about an entitlement epidemic in their schools. They complain that students feel like they deserve good grades without working and trophies just for playing. They say that parents indulge this sense of entitlement by demanding higher grades or a position on the starting lineup from the teachers and coaches instead of establishing responsible study and work habits at home.
Author and UC Davis researcher, Dr. Robert Emmons, offers not only an antidote to this sense of entitlement but a practice that literally improves your health and gives meaning to your life: gratitude.
If you’re reading this, you’ve likely had your share of privilege: a warm home (maybe more than one), close friends & family, plenty of food, not to mention the privilege of living in a free society with almost limitless opportunities for work, pleasure and intellectual/spiritual growth. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve inwardly (and, I confess, outwardly) complained about a meal in a restaurant, my aging home, or some music I wasn’t particularly into. Instead of being grateful for the effort the restaurateurs put into making the meal, the builders the house or the musicians the songs, I act as though I unconditionally deserve their efforts. And the more entitled I feel, the more my gratitude shrinks in proportion.
Gratitude is a “chosen attitude,” writes Emmons. It’s the inverse of entitlement. His research found that people who view life as a gift and consciously practice gratitude experience multiple advantages such as improved emotional and physical health as well as stronger relationships and communities. “Gratitude enriches human life,” he says. “It elevates, energizes, inspires and transforms. People are moved, opened and humbled through expressions of gratitude.”
In November and always, please join me in a daily practice of gratitude. It literally changes everything.