“We are only really entitled to one thing … a life … and only if we are willing to fight for it every day! Everything else is an extra benefit but with a cost!” Ken Pierce
My Mom used to say…“Nothin for nothin!”
I remember my Mom using one short phase over and over again across my childhood, “Nothin for nothin!”. I suspect my eight siblings heard it regularly as well. She would pop it out quickly, and often quietly, at certain times when either we were elating…or perhaps she was…I’m really not sure which?
There was one time I recall clearly her saying this phrase to me. I was about 11 years old. I had a newspaper paper route. I delivered The Evening Times Globe six days a week to a hundred families in my neighborhood in North End Saint John. At that time it was the tradition at Christmas for customers to give their “paperboy” (in those days no girls yet) a Yuletide gift, usually cash, but sometimes cookies or a scarf.
I got fifty-five dollars free…
One Saturday in late December I was counting up my Christmas tips at the kitchen table. I was so excited. I had received over fifty bucks. In those days this was a huge amount of money and especially for a kid my age. I remember saying to my Mom as she walked by the table where my pile of cash lay neatly stacked, “Look Mom, I got fifty-five dollars free…that is like five week pay Mom…and I got it for nothing!”
Mom stopped in her tracks, turned to me and said very slowly, “Honey, you get nothing for free in life…everything must be paid for in a fair and even way…it is a law of nature! I want you to remember that!”
“But Mom, these tips are free, I didn’t have to deliver any papers for them!”
“You’re right you didn’t have to deliver papers for them but you still paid for them…can you see how?”
“Nope!” I said with the beaming certainty only an eleven year old successful entrepreneur can display when he has handfuls of cash in front of him.
You only get what you pay for!
“Well!” Mom said, “How about all the times you saved people’s papers while they were away on vacation or all the times you carried someone’s paper to their door on the second or third floor or the times you waited for weeks to get paid?”
“So you saying they are paying me for the extra stuff I did for them!”
“That’s right honey!” She said as she walked away!
My Mom had a few different ways of expressing this same idea like, “Ya get nothing for nothing!” and “You only get what you pay for!” and my favorite, “Nothin’ for nothing!”
It was at these moments I learned a fact of nature and life which many people, young and old, still haven’t noticed or have ignored. When they miss it or ignore it, …this is called “entitlement” or “an attitude of entitlement.”
Entitlement is defined as “giving (a person) the right to do or have something.”
It is often pinned on the young and naive. Like David Elkind, an American psychologist who once said, “We are using our children as symbols of leisure-class standing without building in safeguards against an overwhelming sense of entitlement—a sense of entitlement that may incline some young people more toward the good life than toward the hard work that, for most of us, makes the good life possible.”
But I find it is not a function of age but rather of awareness. I have watched three and four year olds automatically offer me a piece of their snack after I offered them some of mine. And I have witnessed senior citizens feeling entitled to respect just because of their age.
“Entitlement and privilege corrupt.” Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale
Nature only gives you one entitlement!
The Laws of Nature don’t work that way. Nature only gives you one entitlement! At birth you are entitled to have “a life.” After that another Law of Nature, the law of balance kicks in permanently for the rest of that life. Nature’s law of balance ensures you learn the necessary information and skills to survive in your life. Nature’s law of balance ensures you get the exact supports and challenges to efficiently evolve your sense of self.
Here are a few examples of the law of balance in action. In biology the law of balance is called “homeostasis”. This is what you go to your doctor to restore in your body. In economics the law is called “fair exchange.” This is what you strive for to be successful in business. In physics balance is termed “symmetry”. The law of symmetry is considered one of Nature’s most fundamental laws found everywhere from subatomic particles to galaxy systems and everywhere in between.
In humans balance is displayed geometrically in our body structure which is a balance of two eyes, ears, nostrils, arms, legs, etc…all placed strategically to ensure our survival. Balance is displayed in our relationships with successful marriages composed of an optimist and a pessimist. In the same way close families are composed of counterbalancing individuals who each keep the other evolving in specific ways.
Even Human thinking has this balance…
Even human thinking has this balanced nature to it. If you suddenly stand on one foot you body automatically seeks new balance to comply with the law of gravity. Your mind does the same thing. If a stranger suddenly approached you handing you a thousand dollars in cash you would quickly start wondering what that stranger wants in return. This is the balance law in action in your mind.
There Is Irony To It!
So to expect any one sided event is to either be unaware of this basic law of nature or to ignore it, believing you can operate outside it at certain times. Displaying either, unawareness of the law of balance or a disregard for it, creates another application of the same law. It creates both a learning opportunity and a pain. So ironically pleasure creates equal pain and pain creates equal pleasure to ensure we learn. The learning opportunity is to show us another way the law applies, the pain is the dissolving of the fantasy we had of getting a pleasure without equal pain.
“It’s only relatively recently that human beings have begun to think of happiness as not just an earthy possibility, but also in some ways as an obligation or entitlement, a natural human right. I think this has created a new and very modern pressure, even a new type of unhappiness: the unhappiness of not being happy.” Darrin McMahon
Your Own Youth Demonstrated this…
In our youth we have all moved through our naivety to greater wisdom and insight using various experiences. Each experience was a tool for building our awareness of how nature operates…how life operates. We used things like drugs or sports or gangs or delinquency or school or religion or sex or employment or unemployment or gambling or volunteerism …tools to learn about the rules of life. Each had equal costs and benefits to the user. Each developed wisdom in the user.
Even entire communities can display entitlement. For example, in Canada we have encouraged our children to play wholesome hockey believing they were entitled to fun, fitness and even fame only to realizing the pain from the health dangers from brain concussions and other injuries. There are many similar examples all around us when we look carefully.
Street Drugs Benefit All!
Let’s focusing on illegal street drugs as an example. They have been part of human culture for thousands of years. We have moved from natural sources to synthetic sources in the same way we have with legal drugs. They will always be present in some form because they are important learning tools for humans. We know they have a cost but we ignore their benefits to youth in compliance with the law of balance.
Let me offer you a few examples of the benefits I have seen to society and individuals from illegal drugs. For society illicit drugs create
employment for many people throughout society within justice, education and health systems worth billions of dollars. Illicit drugs also enable many people to learn to honor their own spirit, to value themselves, to value their friends, to value their family, to value their health even to value their wealth. These are of great importance in a person’s life.
“When a parent shows up with an attitude of entitlement, understand that under it is a boatload of anxiety.” – Robert Evans
Entitlement is really “blind spots” each of us has where we think the balance law won’t apply. It is the basis of all forms of gambling. It takes a blind spot for us to bet against the laws of nature which have been operating for billions of years. But we do it in the naive belief we can get more pleasure than pain.
I have one of those office pendulums which when I swing makes a perfect balanced pattern in the sand tray at the base swinging clockwise and counter clockwise until it stops in the precise middle. I ask people if they think the pendulum can stay on one side and not swing to the other side. I have found no one who believes that.
But some of us choose to ignore what we know and to entertain fantasies of one sided events in life. It is the basis of many activities in which humans engage. I have found the older you are the fewer blind spots you still have because you have tested so many of them over your life.
To find some of your blind spots, check out the Take Away Tool below.
“Sometimes people take it for granted that they had success, especially nowadays when you have instant stardom. A lot of people feel entitlement and nobody is entitled to anything.” Donny Osmond
POINTS TO PONDER AND REMEMBER:
1. Entitlement is a belief in a one sided universe.
2. Entitlement is a denial of one of nature’s basic laws of balance.
3. Entitlement is created by personal blind spots in our awareness.
4. Entitlement is a great learning tool for people of all ages.
5. Entitlement seems to diminish with age and wisdom but there are exceptions.