Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Question of Entitlement

People are entitled. What is entitlement? It is the idea that we are owed something-money, job, dinner ready on the table-because of the work we do, or who we are. Their are many times when we are truly entitled to something, mainly life, liberty and happiness (this is entitlement in it's most basic form). The genius it took to see this was nothing short of remarkable and it is the foundation of some of the worlds most profound thoughts and ideas. However, entitlement has taken a darker turn recently. Many ask why shouldn't I have a new phone, car or great paying job-I have vast potential and great worth! Take a moment to observe the people around you, finding this attitude is very easy these days. The major issue with entitlement is that it has so viciously inserted itself into our everyday lives. With the advent of mass marketing, social media and new digital frontiers we have pushed everyday people into a realm of artificial materialism through access to circles outside of their means. We push and push people to think that they won't be happy without material possessions and when they achieve those things and find the reward lacking, we push them to the next new item that will make them happy. All this is done without consideration. I supposed this commentary could turn more to the idea of consideration. In all the rush to achieve and acquire have we stopped to ask ourselves fundamental questions about our own happiness? Furthermore have we asked ourselves the difficult question of why we deserve the things that we thing we deserve? Why should I have a great job, what have I done to deserve that? Have we paused a moment to consider the other people in the world and what they have achieved? The answer is to rely on creating. Creating new experiences for ourselves, creating opportunity to slow down and enjoy the things we have in our lives right now. Why not try to make the best cup of coffee in the world-instead of going to a drive through coffee shop and having someone make it for you. Why not try to create for yourself the things that you want from others? Entitlement has brought us to a place where skill sets of the individual have been marginalized to such a degree that people don't where food comes from or how engines work. Entitlement has caused the death of common sense; if something breaks someone will fix it, if it is beyond repair we will buy a new one, someone else will fix and solve. This problem is not on a household scale, look at our manufacturing capabilities from the end of World War 2 to the current day. It was not the infrastructure in itself that allowed us to create all the items we needed to win a war, but a state of mind that has been lost. We ship jobs overseas when people are out of work-due in part to many people's unwillingness to work in a job "beneath them". We have a population of college educated people and an outdated expectation left over from the 70's that if you go to college and earn a degree you are entitled to a high paying job with benefits. If we could take a moment and be honest with ourselves, look deep and fully understand that we have to work for what we want, we can't have it all (nor should we want it all) and at the end of the day if you have a quiet moment to sit and enjoy what you do have; that's all we are ever really entitled to.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Adult Rite of Passage

What no one every really explains to you as you grow up is that during the course of your life you will have to learn to let a lot of things go. Life is really the process of letting go; letting go of childhood dreams, friends, family and ultimately ourselves. But letting go is just about the hardest thing to do due in part to the vast majority of our experiences  parents put our name in everything as children and tell us not to lose belongings, we are told to go off to college and take in every opportunity and we are told to get a job and keep it. We are rarely receiving the message to let go of things that we hold dear. We are taught that by acquiring things we will be happy weather it is wealth, a family or a new product-it is in the acquisition and keeping of things that we are happy. If that is the case why are so many of us unhappy? Why is the world always seeming to jump from one crisis to the next, always one step from total oblivion  Because the answer lies in letting go; of desires and negativity, of anger and hate. But how can we do these things, how can we give up what we have worked so hard to gain? I think that it is more of a state of mind than a constant action. We can achieve understanding through the "Adult Rite of Passage". It is the moment that we all realize that we will not be astronauts or star athletes, pop singers or doctors. For some of us these things will come true and we will live dreams, but for most of us the dream will change with the passing of time. We understand that although we won't win the World Series we might become fathers or mothers, we may find joy in teaching or building homes. We almost get all the way there, but we sometimes live out our childhood fantasies by watching TV shows of doctors or paying to see professional sporting events. It is OK to live in these fantasies from time to time as long as we acknowledge them as such. But it is through this distinct experience that we all share that we can learn to let things go. How many of us never learn to let things go and end up being upset by the world around us, failing to see that we are only upset with ourselves and our inability to change our perception of how we interact with the world. Letting go allows us to move on and to find other things that will help us feel joy, happiness and even other sorrows. Letting go of each of these emotions in turn will let us prepare for the next emotion and live that fully and without ghost of the past interfering. My challenge to you is to let go of fear, let go of pain and yes, let go of joy as well. Live those moments, experience those feelings and then move on, find the will to allow the next set of emotions into your experience. At times they will be sad, at times they will be exhilarating but new ones are always on the horizon and past experiences are always in the distance, they will always be there to visit if you want, but it should be on your terms. Live in the moment and then - let go.