I don’t think you “deserve” a good life.
I don’t think you “deserve” a bad life, either.
I don’t think you have a “birthright” to happiness, nor do I think your “birthright” is misery.
Whether you think you, or anyone else, “deserves” happiness or has a “birthright” of success…those questions are emphatically above my pay grade. Philosophers, theologians, and other people much smarter than I am have been thinking deeply about those questions for centuries.
What I do know is the practical, day to day mechanics of constructing a better life.
And it’s my experience that when we get overly preoccupied by what we “deserve” as our “birthright”…our heads aren’t in the place we need them to be in order to create a better life in the real world.
When an elite athlete goes out onto the playing field thinking that they “deserve” a victory because they’re simply a “better” competitor than their opponent…then they’re not focused on the sequences and skills they need to be focused on in order to win.
When a political candidate assumes their victory is assured because they “deserve” it, being much more qualified and intelligent than their opponent…then they’re often not focused on the strategies and efforts they’re going to need to turn out their voters and persuade the electorate.
Life, as it turns out, doesn’t seem to care what we think we “deserve.”
It doesn’t care what we think our “birthright” is.
Focusing on what we “deserve,” far more often than not, pumps us up with a sense of entitlement that distracts us from the real world mechanics of how do we live our values and pursue our goals TODAY.
Understand: I’m not saying your birthright ISN’T greatness.
I’m not saying that humans don’t “deserve” to be happy, in the abstract.
What I am saying, though, is that it matters where our head is, day to day. It matters where our focus is.
Where I want your focus, day to day, is how you’re going to make today work.
Today. This day.
Not the rest of the week, month, or year. Not the rest of your life.
What are your goals and values that you’re going to act on TODAY?
What are the practical, down to earth, doable ways you’re going to act on those goals and values, TODAY?
That’s where I want your head. Not in a philosophical reverie about how you “deserve” to be lauded or punished.
The fact is, for many reasons, we simply don’t get what we think we “deserve,” for better or worse.
I’ve been in professional and personal relationships where I was certain I “deserved” better treatment than I was getting. I was thoroughly convinced, in fact, that I had “earned” the right to be treated better than I was being treated.
Guess how much it mattered, what I thought I “deserved?”
Eventually we come to the realization that it simply doesn’t matter what we think we “deserve.” What matters is what we’re willing to do, today, to live our values and nudge toward our goals.
If my work with patients and clients can be summed up succinctly, it would be in the statement “Get your head out of the clouds, and focus on the mechanics of how to make TODAY work.”
The fact is, whether we are right or wrong about what we think we “deserve,” what our “birthright” is, we still have to identify strategies and skills to make it through this twenty four hours.
No “birthright” is going to use your skills for you.
No level of “deservingness” is gong to free you from the necessity of being clear about who you are and what you’re working toward, today, here in the real world.
Acknowledge what you think you “deserve,” if you must.
But then go out and handle THIS day, THIS day right in front of you, one minute, one problem, one skill, one task, one goal at a time.
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