Who owes you? Admit it - many of us feel that someone owes us something. What is it for you? Birthday or holiday gifts? A car? Money? Respect? (That's a satisfying attitude that few of us would reject.) Loyalty? A living? An explanation? Free health care? Do you become angry or depressed if you don't receive that which you believe is owed to you? How do you react when you do receive such things? Do you feel happy, grateful, or perhaps merely justified?
To believe that you are owed certain material goods or attitudes is to believe you have a right to them. Consider this, then. The U.S. Constitution guarantees us the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (which implies that your happiness may not be possible). Therefore, does anyone have a right to our respect? Does a student have a right to a new (or even used) car upon reaching the driving age? Should a bride expect wedding gifts from her relatives? Do employees owe an employer loyalty? If you pay someone a compliment, does he or she owe you one in return?
If you have entered into an agreement with someone, and you do what is expected of you, then you have a right to receive what you are owed. When you accept a job, you are entitled to the agreed upon wages. If you agree to serve in a carnival booth in exchange for concert tickets, you have a right to those tickets once the job is finished.
Everything else in life is a bonus - something good that is freely given. Since we don't really have a right to gifts, we should show gratitude when we receive them. When we feel we have a right to something, that we deserve it, we aren't likely to show appreciation when we receive it. Be grateful for each gift and each kind act. Beyond that, we should develop a feeling of gratitude for those people who keep their promises and meet our expectations. Unfortunately, some people break agreements and live dishonestly. Therefore, we can appreciate those who are trustworthy.
Brian Tracy, a speaker, author, and consultant who is chairman of Brian Tracy International, a human resource company, said, "Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation." Studies have shown that thankful, happy people are more successful than people who aren't!