Life Lesson 11: The World Owes You Nothing

Friday: Maybe You're the Common Denominator
Today: The World Owes You Nothing
You can’t go into this world thinking you’re owed something. If you do, you’re going to be permanently unhappy.
One of my all time favorite quotes comes from the great American writer Mark Twain: "...the world owes you nothing; it was here first."

I think one of the fastest ways to get yourself into a jam is to have an unwarranted sense of entitlement. To think that just because you are, you will receive. For the vast majority of us, there is little we will get without having worked for it in some fashion. Even those for who it seems everything is given and nothing is expected, I assure you there is some sacrifice somewhere in their life to have and maintain whatever it is. Nothing, my friends, is free.

And if you're walking around thinking that everything you want will just fall from the sky, the disappointment you're going to feel when you get to the end of that walk with nothing to show for it may, in fact, be insurmountable and indescribable. Trying to find the shortcut, expecting someone else to work for you and hand you all of the benefits... that just won't ever work. Do the work, earn your keep.

I hate the bootstraps meme that is so popular and has been so popular in American rhetoric, especially political rhetoric. I hate it because it's not true. Very few people have or will ever accomplish anything great (or even not so great) with no help at all. That's just not how us humans are wired, to do things all alone. However, there is something magical about the idea -- and this idea is why, though it may in fact be literally and figuratively killing us, our country will hold on to Capitalism until it is pried from our cold, dead hands -- that if you just work hard, you can have anything you want. If that's all it takes, then the possibilities are endless, which is an intoxicatingly exciting thought, if you ask me.

While you will need help, your bootstraps won't be enough, you can work hard enough to achieve just about anything. You can have whatever you want, including happiness, you just can't think that it is owed to you simply because you breathe. Anything worth having is worth working for, if only to be able to say, on the back end, I earned this.

Tomorrow: Find Yourself Some Work Ethic

1 comment:

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