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November 20, 2019

Thanksgiving vs. Appreciation

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I remember when I first heard this statement:

“The one thing that all humans have in common is that everyone believes there is a way things should be and there is a way things shouldn’t be. When things are as we think they should be we’re happy, and when things are not as we believe they should be we’re upset.”

I saw then, and see now, how true this statement is. It’s true about me and it’s true about almost everyone I know. It’s the human psychology. It’s our operating system. 

  • It should be warm outside. It shouldn’t be 10 degrees.
  • I should be thinner.
  • My colleague shouldn’t talk to me that way.
  • We should have gotten that deal.
  • My landlord shouldn’t raise my rent.
  • The music shouldn’t be so loud.
  • I should get that job.
  • I shouldn’t have had so much to drink last night.
  • The software should work.
  • We should get the funding. 
  • My father should have said “I love you” more often.

One thing that Donald Trump and Elizabeth Warren have in common is that they both think there is a way the world should be and a way the world shouldn’t be. When you’re fighting with your manager, spouse, mother or child you both think there is a way the world should be and a way the world shouldn’t be. You’re human. You’re also happy when the world cooperates and unhappy when it doesn’t.

This is the basis of entitlement. Entitlement is the opposite of appreciation.

For now, I’d like to make a distinction in how I experience thankfulness and appreciation. Thankfulness is what most people feel when the world shows up the way the world should show up. Appreciation is what I create when I allow the world to show up just as the world shows up. 

In a few weeks many of us will gather around a Thanksgiving table and we will give thanks. Listen carefully. Most of us will give thanks for the world being the way we think the world should be. That’s OK. It’s human. Be human.

Appreciation begins by letting go, little by little, of our egoic attachment to believing we know the way the world should be and the way the world shouldn’t be. It’s letting the world show up just the way the world shows up. And then it’s choosing (yes it’s a choice) to appreciate life being just as life is. 

Happy Appreciation Day!

Want more? 

Read Jim's two-part article series on Entitlement vs Appreciation: How to Be Resentful and Entitled and The Antidote to Resentment and Entitlement

Check out all our resources on Commitment 7: Appreciation

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