Being grateful is not about having your head in the sand about all the bad stuff that happens, it’s about finding a space in the heart for appreciating the things you do have, even the little things. And gratitude is not just a good thing to have; rather, it is a way of valuing what we do have. Gratitude is necessary for people to be genuinely healthy and whole. Gratitude begets a sense of indebtedness and obligation, a sense notably lacking in the disturbed character who takes, expects, exploits, and abuses without reservation or compunction. Learning to be more grateful is the antidote for this, and it takes a lot of practice.
We live in an age of unprecedented entitlement. Almost everything once regarded as a privilege or something to be earned is now regarded as an inherent right. As a result, many people have come to expect far more than they feel obliged to give, which has set a disatrous precedent for the character formation of our children. This makes the second commandment of sound character development and its message of gratitude very hard to embrace.
It was once widely believed that children naturally move toward positive growth unless they experience trauma of some type. But we now know that what doesn’t happen in the way of learning certain crucial life lessons is just as important to good character development as the tragic events that might beset a person and arrest or impede their character formation. And that’s what prompted me to catalog what my experience has taught me are the 10 essential “commandments” of good character development.
If there were ever a time when character really needs to be mindfully nurtured, it’s now – in our age of permissiveness, entitlement and moral relativism. And the same lessons we need to learn as children to become adults of integrity are the lessons we need to even more fully embrace and master at and even deeper level as we mature in order to become the best version of ourselves.
The tragedy of our times is that far too many folks lack the attributes of character necessary to function in a mature, responsible way. But we all have it within us to become a better person.
How did we end up here? That’s the question so many folks who have been struggling in or recovering from a toxic relationship find themselves asking. Many also question how we ended up here as a society. My new book with Kathy Armistead provides a practical guide to surviving and thriving in a character-disordered world.
The grateful character feels obliged, not entitled. And the grateful character pays his or her debts.
Learning to overcome our natural narcissistic inclinations is what the process of sound character development is all about.
A narcissist can be of the “vulnerable” or “neurotic” type (see also Two Main Varieties of Narcissists). Such inwardly insecure characters crave love and affirmation and seek it by trying to prove their exceptionality. But in our age it’s more common for a narcissist to be of the “grandiose” or character-disturbed variety and such characters are … Continue reading Grandiose Narcissists and Shattered Illusions
Some see the narcissist as “a legend in their own mind.” And because the way a narcissist views their self-worth and capabilities is almost always inflated, it can indeed be a pretty ugly picture when their grandiose illusions are shattered.