[W]hen I looked up the definition of entitled in a few dictionaries, they all pretty much said the same thing: “To give, to furnish title or right to something.”  They all said that this right is given, not taken. If I don’t remember giving that right to anyone, then why do so many young people seem to feel they deserve this entitlement? I looked at the Urban Dictionary to get my answer.  Their definition of entitled is, “An attitude, demeanor, or air of rudeness, ungraciousness, or combativeness, especially when making excessive demands for service.” BINGO! Where did this attitude come from?  Was it the frivolous lawsuits of the ‘90’ and 00’s?  Did it happen when society decided that everyone had to be a winner so we didn’t damage the delicate psyche of today’s youth?  Growing up, I learned to lose gracefully, owned up to my mistakes, was occasionally spanked, and I think I’ve grown up rather well, and well adjusted.

Then I thought maybe it was just where I was.  I work in Yorba Linda, California. In 2005, in an article by CNN Money, Yorba Linda was [listed as] one of the richest U.S. cities and the highest in Orange County as reported by the Census data, showing median household income of over $120K.  (My opinion is that wealthy does not mean entitled)  The official slogan for Yorba Linda is “Land of Gracious Living” But I’ve also heard it called “Land of Entitlement.” I dkonlinecasinos.com talked to a flight attendant friend who was raised in Orange County but now lives in Chicago.  He said although the “OC” does have a reputation for entitled youth (and adults), he sees it all over the county in all financial demographics.

So, what can we do to combat entitlement? Engagement! No, I’m not suggesting to marry off everyone.  The engagement I have in mind is defined as:  1. Occupy, attract, or involve (someone”s interest or attention). 2. Cause someone to become involved in (a conversation or discussion). I’ve been blessed over the last few years not only to become engaged in helping others through organizations like Joy Squared, Beautiful Mess, and Just One Recovery. But I’ve also been blessed to see parents get their children involved and see some life change at an early age.  (One mother even called me about having her 4-year-old daughter serve) Maybe it will just be the next generation that changes their attitude toward giving and sharing their joy with others.

I can speak to this because I have seen it work.  Both in my work at the church and at Mary’s Kitchen, a facility for feeding and respecting the homeless, I have seen teenagers who have been given the gift of community service by the court system, work beyond their prescribed hours. It was able to see a change in their attitude and a change in their hearts.  I received a call a few months back from a distraught mother whose son needed to complete community service for petty theft.  We arranged to have the young man help feed the homeless with us.  His “service to society” ended weeks ago, but he continues to show up each Saturday morning at 8am to make breakfast for people he would have easily ignored just about a month ago.

Bottom line is that is all really easy to do.  Find a need and fill it.  Think of someone else first.  You’ll be amazed at how your filters can change and you will see how much you truly have and how easy it is to share; even the free things like time and talents.  If you need help finding areas to serve, we at Joy Squared will be happy to help.  Leave a comment below and we will hook you up!