It is good to be back with all of you, our friends. Our visit to Texas went well. Joan drove the entire way, every mile. 2,400 miles, round trip. Did you know once you become president, you are never again permitted to drive on a public road? You have a driver for the rest of your life. I know exactly how that feels. I just sat back, read my books, ate trail mix, and acted presidential, giving little orders, most of which Joan ignored. Our deal is that the driver picks the entertainment, so we listened to podcasts about how to be strong women, which, honestly, I don’t think she needed. She already doesn’t let me drive. But I’m secure in my masculinity and am not threatened by a strong wife. I just sit there and eat my trail mix and read my books.

It was wonderful to see our son Sam and his wife and little Miles. That child is perfect, and I told him so every chance I got. You can tell them that when they’re little because they don’t know what it means. Once they understand what you’re saying, you want to go light with that kind of talk, so they don’t get the big head. You don’t want them to grow up with a sense of entitlement. But right now Miles is a 16-month-old bundle of perfection. I got to go on two long walks with my son Sam. I wouldn’t say this if he were here, it would embarrass him, but I’ll say it since he isn’t here, that he’s as fine a son as any father could ever want. When he and Kelsea got married the men in his platoon drove up from Georgia to Danville to attend the wedding.

I sat at their table and chatted with them. I asked them what it was like to have Sam as their sergeant, and one of the guys who looked considerably older than Sam, said, “There are two kinds of sergeants, one kind yells at you all the time, but never works with you. And the other kind works with you all the time, and never yells at you, and that’s the kind of sergeant Sam is. We’d follow him anywhere.”

We’ve been talking about depression and the habits and practices we can cultivate to elevate our lives. I want to mention it again, because it bears repeating, that if you are depressed, see your doctor to address the possible biological causes of your depression, but after that learn the habits that can enrich and elevate your life. We’ve been talking about those very habits these past several weeks. Today, I want to describe another habit and that is this: beware of entitlement, resist always the temptation of thinking you are uniquely special, of thinking that you, above everyone else, are owed obedience, power, or privilege.

The reason entitled people are happiness-challenged is that the world can never love them enough, can never revere them enough, can never affirm their “greatness” enough. Think for a moment of the most entitled person you know. This shouldn’t be difficult, there are many of them. Do you see in them a lightness, a general cheerfulness, a contentment with life? Or are you more likely to see in them seething resentfulness, bitterness, and anger.

Joan and I heard a car commercial on our way to Texas describing the latest model Ford pick-up truck. The man doing the voice-over said, “You’ve worked hard. You deserve a new truck.”

I thought, “Exactly.”

Joan said, “Deserve? What’s deserving got to do with it? I grew up with people who worked hard every day of their lives and were able to afford a new truck. What’s deserving got to do with it?”

But Ford sells a lot of new trucks, doesn’t it? Because we are conditioned to think ourselves entitled, to think ourselves uniquely deserving of privilege. Why, just this week, the North Carolina U.S. representative Patrick McHenry argued for an increase in his $174,000 salary, while voting against raising minimum wage. He said Congress couldn’t attract quality people unless they paid more, which infers that people making minimum wage aren’t quality. Patrick McHenry wears a bow tie, which makes him suspicious in my mind. I haven’t trusted a white guy in a bow tie since Colonel Sanders died.

That is what we must guard against, because we’re all vulnerable to it. There’s a reason Joan doesn’t like me to drive anymore. It started about ten years ago. We were downtown and I wanted to pull into a parking garage, but there was a barricade up, which I just drove around and was headed right toward an empty parking spot when a security guard stopped me and said, “You can’t do that.”

I said, “And yet, I just did.”

I don’t know why I said that. Well, maybe I do. I was on my way to give a big speech and I was feeling important. I certainly wasn’t going to let a security guard keep me from my appointed rounds. But Joan was with me, and she looked at me and said, “Who are you, to think the rules don’t apply to you?”

It was right after that Joan started doing all the driving. So now I just sit in the passenger seat, eat my trail mix, and act presidential.

The reason entitled people are never happy is that the world can never love them enough, can never revere them enough, can never affirm their greatness enough.

If you want to be happy, leave the language of deserving to others.

Leave the word deserve to the people who work and sweat and labor but know not a moment’s ease or comfort.

Leave the word deserve to those who struggle and strive to have a say but know not a moment’s power or privilege.

Leave the word deserve to those who give and share and help but know not a moment’s largesse or generosity.

There are two golden rules. The first golden rule is this, and most common—he who has the gold makes the rules.

But we Quakers believe in the second golden rule—that we should hope for others what we hope for ourselves.

If you want to be happy, leave the language of deserving to others.