Stop Moaning, Start Owning: How Entitlement is Ruining America and How Personal Responsibility Can Fix It

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9780757318764: Stop Moaning, Start Owning: How Entitlement is Ruining America and How Personal Responsibility Can Fix It

In this long-overdue book, Dr. Brian Russell exposes the complaints that have the most destructive effects on Americans and, by extension, on America today. First, he helps us understand the damage we have done to ourselves, our relationships, kids, careers, and our country by misunderstanding what "the pursuit of happiness" really means, failing to differentiate wants from needs, and externalizing blame for our own failures. In the second part he explains how we got so off-track, leading to an "Age of Entitlement," and the "saving grace" that calls us back to personal responsibility. He then reveals how so many of us have abdicated personal responsibility and, consequently, power over our lives. Finally, we learn how to engage in transformative change by embracing and encouraging personal accountability and responsibility. Dr. Russell empowers us to reassert control over our individual and collective destinies and teaches us how to leverage the transformative power of life's "perspective-preserver": gratitude.

Les informations fournies dans la section « Synopsis » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.

About the Author :

Dr. Brian Russell is a clinical psychologist and an attorney who also holds an MBA. Among the major media psychologists, he has an incomparably well-rounded perspective on what inhibits productive behavior and facilitates destructive behavior at the individual, family, and societal levels in America. As a therapist, Dr. Brian has spent countless hours treating adult and child clinical and relational problems, as well as representing both high- and low-profile clients as a lawyer, explaining the root causes of destructive behavior as an expert in courtrooms, classrooms, boardrooms, and to the general public via speeches, radio.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. :

Introduction

In my years as cohost of the series Fatal Vows on Investigation Discovery, I've spotlighted people at their worst, those who've traveled far down profoundly destructive paths of their own choosing. As my colleague Dr. Drew Pinsky likes to remind me whenever I appear on his show, the cartoon series South Park has dubbed shows like mine 'informative murder porn,' implying that they don't have any value beyond voyeurism and Schadenfreude. I really don't think that's true, though. I always argue that many important lessons for everyday life, marriage, parenting, personal safety, and so on can be drawn from extreme cases with spectacularly bad endings. Perhaps chief among these lessons is how most bad endings―spectacular or not―could be prevented if only the people involved had made better choices earlier about their own behavior and about behavior they've tolerated from others.

In recent years, there's been an awful lot of moaning from an awful lot of unhappy Americans accompanied by an awful lot of excuses as to why they're not responsible for their unhappiness, economic circumstances, or behavior. You may have heard people make excuses for themselves, or maybe you've even said some of these things yourself. I'm embarrassed to say, many of these have been served up on silver platters by some of my fellow psychologists and lawyers:

  • 'I haven't succeeded because I've been oppressed by [a demographic group, corporate America, the rich].'
  • 'I've abused [my spouse, my kids, both] because I had a bad childhood.'
  • 'I'm [obese, failing school, addicted] because I have a disease.'
  • 'I was prevented from knowing right from wrong by [a mental illness, violent video games, too many Twinkies].'

These are just a handful of examples. An exhaustive list―from felons, philanderers, and freeloaders to everyday Americans with everyday gripes and everything in between―could fill this entire book. In short, America has become a nation with far too many narcissistic, self-entitled, excuse-making moaners who simply refuse to own their problems and the solutions thereto. But it wasn't always that way.

The United States was founded and built by rugged individualists, people who supremely valued personal freedom―the freedom to develop their ideas, strengths, skills, and talents to the best of their abilities in the pursuit of better lives for themselves, their families, and future generations. They were willing to take profound risks, like leaving their home continents for distant and unknown shores, like standing up to and defeating the most formidable foes of their times―more than once (e.g., Great Britain, Spain, Nazi Germany . . . )―and they literally tore their nation apart and pulled it back together again to eradicate the scourge of slavery. They did all that in the name of freedom. And in their unrelenting quest for freedom―not just political and economic freedom, but also freedom of religion, expression, and association―they were successful beyond the founders' wildest imaginations. In the blink of an eye in the grand timeline of human history, they created a nation that surpassed all others in its industrial, cultural, and intellectual productivity; in its prosperity and peacekeeping power; and, yes, in its personal freedom, making it the single greatest nation in human history in which to pursue happiness.

The people who founded and built America understood that that's all their precious freedom meant―freedom to pursue happiness―and that none among them was guaranteed or entitled to actually capture it. They also understood that freedom and personal anarchy weren't the same, and that maximum personal freedom required reasonable limits so that each citizen's exercise of freedom wouldn't impinge or infringe upon the freedoms of others. Furthermore, they understood that such reasonable limits were best self-imposed, that it would be both impractical and oppressive to have a society in which behavioral limits were forced upon individuals by the state. In other words, they understood that personal freedom and personal responsibility went hand in hand.

I think they also tended to gauge happiness differently than many Americans do today. Think about the unemployed and underemployed professionals who went to work in coal mines to feed their families during the Great Depression. Think about our 'Greatest Generation' of Americans who banded together and sacrificed profoundly to preserve not just their own freedom but also the freedom of others in distant lands during World War II. In contrast to many of today's Americans, I think they tended to gauge happiness in relation to their contributions to things larger than themselves―most centrally to their families, then rippling outward to their churches, professions, businesses, communities, country, and even their world.

But the further the nation has progressed beyond the early struggles that paved the way to its prosperity, the easier it has become for its people to perceive their 'fair shares' of its prosperity less as privileges and more as entitlements. As successful as America became in an age of personal responsibility, over my professional lifetime I've seen it drifting with increasing inertia toward an age of entitlement. I've seen it in my personal life. I've seen it as I've assessed and counseled adults, adolescents, couples, and families as a psychologist. I've seen it as I've served as an expert witness in legal cases where parties' states of mind have been pivotal. I've seen it as I've negotiated and mediated disputes and represented clients in civil and criminal court as a lawyer. I've seen it as I've taught courses to undergraduate students and given lectures to groups of accomplished professionals from all over the country. I've seen it as I've run my own businesses and advised leaders of businesses large and small on how to solve productivity problems. I've seen it as I've advised legislators on how to draft laws to rein in various types of destructive behavior. I've seen it as I've analyzed virtually every major crime story that has made national news for the better part of a decade. And I've seen it as I've traveled the world comparing what's happening elsewhere to what's happening in America.

You've seen it, too. You've seen it in the skyrocketing rates of parental abandonment, divorce, and remarriage―three and four different last names living in the same single-family dwelling―and in the damage that does to the children involved, both while they're children and later, when they attempt to form healthy, enduring relationships and families of their own. You've seen it in the pervasive excuse-making by criminals who consciously choose to behave in heinously destructive ways and then, when caught, attribute their behavior to bad parenting, historical oppression, some compulsive behavioral 'disease' like addiction (to drugs or sex), or psychosis. You've seen it in the escalating, unsustainable debt that Americans are carrying, both individually and collectively. You've seen it in the increasing numbers of claims for disability and other forms of public assistance when, in fact, the number of adult Americans who are mentally or physically incapable of sustaining themselves and their children are, thankfully, relatively small. You've seen it in the ever-increasing acceptance of recreational drug use, of sexual promiscuity (even among middle-school-age kids), of obesity as yet another 'disease,' all of which are driven by hedonistic impulses over which people are no longer expected to exert much, if any, self-control. And in the rare event when a behavioral problem is identified as such, you've seen an ever-increasing preference for the quickest possible fix, such as ADHD diagnoses and psychotropic prescriptions for millions of academically challenged American kids, the vast majority of whom probably could benefit as much or more from some intensive behavioral shaping by involved parents.

And American culture increasingly facilitates such destructive trends. Even Americans who haven't participated in them directly have often participated indirectly by allowing personally irresponsible behaviors to become social norms. Americans today have grown to accept all kinds of behaviors that previous generations identified as destructive and therefore ostracized. In addition, all kinds of flimsy excuses and empty apologies without amends are now widely accepted, even for deliberately destructive behavior―for example, minimizations like, 'I'm only human,' and 'I made a mistake.' Also widely accepted in America these days are externalizations like, 'If only my wife had paid more attention to me, I wouldn't have strayed,' and deflections like, 'Who among us is to judge?'

©2015 Brian Russell. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Stop Moaning, Start Owning: How Entitlement is Ruining America and How Personal Responsibility Can Fix It. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.

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