We all hear people say that they deserve this and they deserve that. Sometimes we want to ask them “Why?” The idea of entitlement has a negative ring to it, but aren’t we all at least entitled to some good things, like being treated with respect.
What are we entitled to?
In America we are entitled to quite a lot that we often take for granted. The Constitution guaranties us rights that people would have considered to be ridiculously unattainable just a few hundred years ago. Jefferson, with his fine writing talents, summed up our entitlements as the unalienable rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Thank you TJ for expressing so well what all humans should be able to expect in life.
“Dignity does not consist in possessing honors, but in deserving them.” Aristotle
Of what are we worthy?
We also deserve what we have earned. Sometimes what you deserve to get back for what you have given out is straightforward, a quid pro quo, or give-and-take. You do your work, you get paid. Sometimes there is a less direct connection between what you have done and the reward. For example, you work hard and you might get a promotion.
Do you deserve happiness?
As Jefferson wrote, we all have the right to pursue happiness, but we think it is best to believe that you don’t deserve happiness unless you have done something to earn it. We’ve all done good things in our lives that would seem to balance with deserving happiness, but who knows if that good was good enough? If you really want to feel deserving of some seriously nice happiness, why not ensure that the balance of give and take is in your favor. Give and give and give some more. You can then sincerely feel deserving of receiving happiness. (And you’ll make a lot of friends, too!)