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Monk Notes 27 - The Entitlement Vs Gratitude Frame

It would seem that gratitude would come naturally to us. We are attracted to the
gratitude we see in others, and sense our own lives would be enriched by moving
towards a more grateful frame of life.

But at times we can struggle to experience gratitude. It could be that we sense the number of things we feel grateful for are limited, or that we feel some relative
gratitude but it remains only on the surface, or it could be that we simply find
ourselves struggling to see the richness that surrounds us amongst the busyness of everyday life.

As we seek to grow in our sense of gratitude, it would seem obvious to start looking at the areas where we feel ingratitude. But this approach can leave us distracted by feelings of shame, a sense that we’re a spoiled kid in a grown up’s body. We’re left with an awareness of gratitude's absence, but no clarity on what to do about this absence; aware of the problem, but unable to implement meaningful change.

A better way to approach growth in gratitude is to address the cause of ingratitude, entitlement. Entitlement is a protective layer that ensures we get what we deserve and don’t fall victim to the exploitation of others. Entitlement can feel like an appropriate response to injustice, but hidden within entitlement is a trap.

The problem with entitlement is not our desire for good. Advocating for the things
that matter to us and to others is an appropriate and noble activity. The problem with entitlement is that it fundamentally positions us within a negative frame. Entitlement directs us to focus on the good that isn’t rather than the good that is.

When our primary focus is to see the good, we see more good, and we respond in
kind with greater generosity, openness, and joy. When we primarily focus on the lack of good, we respond with grasping, defensiveness, and indignancy. Entitlement and gratitude are frames of life that have the effect of transforming whatever is held within it’s frame. A community composed of grateful people will look remarkably different from a community composed of entitled people.

All the best,

Steven Lawson

“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”

- Edward Abbey


The Science of Gratitude -

It's understandable that if after reading our Monk Notes this month you still aren't convinced in the power of gratitude. Gratitude can often seem like an abstract and intangible aspect of life, and things like that can take a bit more convincing for some. If you fall into this camp, this piece by Mindful goes into further detail about the science behind exactly how gratitude works and may give you a deeper and more reassuring picture.   LINK

Why Gratitude Is Critical To Your Success - Medium

As much as we as people may idealize the thought of someone being a self made success, the reality is that in nearly every case this is a fantasy. There is virtually no way for one person to have actually done everything on their own, and if they did they're likely worse off for it, as it creates an internal culture where the only good ideas can come from within. As Dr. David Geier explains, we need others to inspire us and to be grateful for, as that's one of the most effective ways there is to continue to grow and learn while keeping our success in perspective. LINK

How Gratitude Helps Your Friendships Grow - Greater Good Magazine

There's likely very few people out there that don't feel the least bit good when they receive a genuine thank you from someone they did something nice for. This is for good reason, as we tend to be drawn to people that we find mutual value in, and gratitude is just another simple way we can exhibit our value for others. If you need more evidence, this summary of a 2017 study regarding this relationship between gratitude and personal relationships goes into further detail about why this may be. LINK

Featured Art: Boating in Central Park, Edward Henry Potthast (1900-1905)