There are those who have a predisposition to entitlement. They feel that everything they have is theirs because it is their right to have those things. They typically also feel they’re entitled to things they don’t yet have and will set about causing others to hand over those things, or at least to feel guilty for not sharing.
Then there are those who live a life of gratitude – where nothing is taken for granted and everything is appreciated.
I believe that both of these predispositions are learned. I don’t think that it is in our DNA to be one or the other. We take the rules of the game from our environment and fine-tune them to suit our personalities and circumstances.
I came across this telling little video this past weekend. I hope you enjoy it. It reminded me of a practice I learned more than a decade ago and which I seem to be more capable of following during the bad times. This is what it is: When it is bedtime, and just as you turn out the light and nestle into the pillows and blankets, make a mental list of ten things you are grateful for. Simple and obvious things. Like how warm the duvet is on a dark February night. Like that your sons talk to each other. Like that the roof didn’t blow off during the blizzard even if the power went out. Like that your sister phoned. That the dog came back….
I don’t know anything about brain chemistry, but what I do know is that such a seemingly insignificant exercise has a remarkable ability to still an uneasy mind that seems to specialize in generating fear. Such a gratitude list, generated just as you want to go to sleep, is a great soporific. Much better than counting sheep.
My predisposition to being grateful is more there than it isn’t, but like all good character-building initiatives, it needs more work before it will be an ingrained predisposition.
Tonight I think I’ll resume the practice of the gratitude list because I’ve been taking a few things for granted lately. I’ll start with being grateful that today was a lovely sunny day and that the dog came back.