What do we deserve?




Why are you here? Why did you make it this far and all the other sperm cells didn't? Given the almost infinite impossibility of you existing why the heck did you make it? I mean you're not that good of a swimmer are you?


You are wonderfully unique. Just look at your DNA or your little character quirks. You are unique. Yet hate to break it to you but you almost entirely irrelevant at the same time. Nothing in this universe needs you to exist. You aren't keeping anything going that wouldn't survive without you. Yet for some reason or purpose you are here. Yes you. And about 7.5 billion versions of something very similar.


We tend to think of ourselves as the centre of the universe. We place so much emphasis on the little mundane choices that we make throughout our lives. Where will we study? Where will we work? Who will we marry? Will we have children? We treat each of these decisions as if the whole universe is dependent on them. We agonize and ruminate to make sure we've made the "right" decision. Yet in a few decades none of us will even be here.


Entitlement


Entitlement's a funny thing. None of us would want to admit to having a sense of entitlement but I would guarantee almost all of us display it. Perhaps subconsciously or perhaps in a more apparent way every one of us is guilty of entitlement.


We feel that we are owed. That we deserve. We think life or God or the universe or our friends or our partner should give us something. Should do something for us. Because we've deserved it. We've been good or been healthy or worked hard. We deserve - we are entitled.


Examples of entitlement


1. Needing to be thanked


A few years ago a friend I had met in Munich came to Dublin. We were sitting in a quiet bar discussing the small things such as the meaning of life. We came on to the topic of altruism. Altruism is when we promote someone else's welfare. This may often be at the expense of ourselves. Altruism put simply is being kind to others.


We began to consider why we show kindness. Why are we nice to other people sometimes? He shared his opinion with me. He suggested that the only reason human beings ever show kindness is so they can feel better about themselves. Though I don't fully subscribe to his analysis I see some merit in what he is saying.


Completely selfless acts of kindness are incredibly rare. Let's be honest how often do we actually just be kind with no expectation whatsoever. When we clean something we want other people to know we have cleaned it. When we leave a present we want the person to know it has come from us. When we do something good or kind - something in us wants to tell other people about it.


Every good action does not need to be praised or celebrated. That is an unhealthy sense of entitlement. Because it creates in us an attitude that we will only show kindness if we know it is going to be appreciated.


2. A 'why me Lord' Complex


Why me? Why did I get sick? Why did my car break down? Why did I lose my job? Why did my partner let me down?


Pretty sure we've all asked the why me question when something 'bad' has happened to us. I spent 5 years walking around with a massive freaking 'why me' chip on my shoulder. Entitlement says you deserve good things. You deserve to be happy all the time. So when that gets challenged the why me's begin to flow.


Outworking of entitlement


1. Jealousy


Jealousy is one of the most poisonous emotions any of us experience. When we believe we are entitled to something by default we are saying that someone else is not entitled. Because not everyone can have the job you want or the car you think you need.


So when our entitlements are not fulfilled we tend to look with envy at those who have what we don't. We envy those who appear happier or smarter or sexier or richer. We resent them for having more of something we believe we deserve. Jealousy never starts with someone else. It always starts with our own discontentment.