I don’t like spoiled kids as a species.

You probably don’t either…even if they’re yours…maybe particularly if they’re yours. I remember when my kids were young, and they would invite friends over for dinner. One time, we sat down to eat and the little 8-year old friend looked at the glass of water sitting at the place setting, looked at me and said, “Could I have some Coke?”. My kids froze like the kids in Oliver Twist when Oliver asked for more gruel. I looked at the freeloader, narrowed my eyes and said, “It looks like it’s water tonight, Sport”. He lived. My kids laughed nervously and bowed their heads to pray. On a spoiled scale he might have only been a 2.

I saw a 16-year old girl on Dr. Phil who was demanding that her mom give her a $200k car because she “had to have it”. Dr. Phil looked at the mom and said, “You’ve lost this one”. He didn’t mean the battle. He meant the war. That 16-year old girl was doomed. She was a 10 on the spoiled scale. Being spoiled sucks all that is good out of a person. You never think of a really spoiled child as happy or kind or good. They become a living whirlpool pulling everything into themselves but never feeling full.

So, where do you think you are? There’s a quick test you can take to find out where you are on the spoiled scale. Here it is: how thankful are you?

This weekend we celebrate Thanksgiving. It may be the most important holiday of the year. Every November it arrives like a checkup for your soul. The number of things you can list to be thankful for is directly connected to your joy, your kindness, your overall goodness as a human being. The more you feel entitled the harder you will be to please.

I was talking to a butcher the other day. He was wearing a stained apron and was taking a break from a job I have never done or would ever want to do. He told me every day when he gets ready to go to bed, he puts his shoes under his bed… way under. He looked at me and his eyes crinkled with mischief and joy and he said, “I put them so far under that in the morning I have to get on my knees to reach them. That way I don’t forget to thank God for giving me another day”. That’s the first time in my life I wanted to be like a butcher.

Be thankful. It’s the only thing that will keep you from being spoiled.