What do we deserve?

Hampton Court...home of those who got more than they deserved?
People often feel like they deserve a lot better from this life than they seem to get.  That life has not treated them fairly.  That they are owed something.  I know I am guilty of this.

A lot of it seems to stem from comparison of our lives to other people's.  There will always be someone who is richer, happier, healthier, more attractive or intelligent or successful than ourselves.

But it seems to go beyond this comparison.  I don't feel the same sense of injustice over the fact that all the other people who are at equal or lower levels of those factors in comparison to me have been treated that way by this world.  It is almost as if on some level I believe that because I am good, or kind, or hardworking or whatever it is, that means I am somehow entitled to a better life.

And of course, that's not true.  But why not?  You could argue that the vast majority of people "deserve" better than what they have got.  That all people are equal.  Or that what you should get from this world is based on how you behave in it - karma.  You could spend millenia deciding (and arguing) over what each individual should or should not deserve.  While perhaps there is nothing inherently wrong with this viewpoint, I think there are better angles from which to approach the question.

To answer the question at a deeper level, we need to look at whether we deserve what we do have at the most very basic level.  I would argue that just in our very existence, we have already received far far more than we could ever deserve.

Whether you believe in any God, no God at all or the Flying Spaghetti Monster himself, no-one can doubt that the fact that they themselves exist is completely mind-blowingly amazing.  Utterly improbable.  Totally miraculous.  To even reach the point where we take our first breath of air, we are so blessed.  To have life, to exist, is far more than any of us could ever deserve.  Before we existed, we had done nothing to deserve life.  And to be honest, very few of us will ever achieve anything remotely significant enough to say on our deathbeds that we deserved life either.

Yes life hurts.  Yes we get sick, people hurt us, times change and we live in a inherently unfair world.  But.  BUT.  But we have been given life, we already have been given far more than we will ever deserve.

Please dont misinterpret what I am trying to say here.  There is nothing wrong with attempting to resolve the injustices of this world, and there is nothing wrong with attempting to better one's own life.  There is, however, something wrong with this attitude of entitlement.  It seems impossible for it to lead to anything but dissatisfaction, anger, selfishness and ultimately greed.  Regardless of how much we succeed at changing the world or our own lives, we will never satiate the feeling that we deserve better. 

When I reach the point (which happens regularly I'm ashamed to say) when I have had the day from Hell and feel as if the whole world has some kind of vendetta against me, or find myself the unfortunate recipient of yet another shockingly bad piece of luck, I find that adopting this attitude of gratitude (boo-ya rhyming morality!) helps.

Suddenly it's not about things not being fair, not about about me deserving more.  When I am grounded in gratitude then all the inequality and unfairness this world holds becomes so much more bearable. I hope that it will become second nature to be constantly conscious of how much more I have already received in comparison to what I deserve.


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