Honey, nobody owes you anything
In 1966, investment analyst Harry Brown wrote a letter to his nine-year-old daughter for Christmas, which is still quoted. He explained to the girl that nothing in this world – even love – should not be taken as given.
Now it’s Christmas, and I have the usual problem – which gift should you choose. I know what makes you happy – books, games, dresses. But I want to give you something that will remind you of me every Christmas. And, you know, I think I chose a gift. I will give you one simple truth that I had to learn for many years. If you understand it now, you will enrich your life in hundreds of different ways and this will protect you from a lot of problems in the future.
So: nobody owes you anything.
This means that no one lives for you, my child. If you understand that no one should organize your happiness, you will free yourself from the expectation of the impossible. No one is obligated to love you. If someone loves you, it means that you have something so special that makes him happy. Find out what it is, try to make it stronger, and then they will love you even more.
No one should respect you. And some people will not be kind to you. But the moment you learn that no one is obligated to do good to you, and that someone may be unkind to you, you will learn to avoid such people. Because you do not owe them anything either.
You must become the best first of all for yourself. Because if you succeed, other people will want to be with you, they will want to give you different things in exchange for what you can give them. And someone will not want to be with you, and the reasons will not be with you at all. If this happens, just look for another relationship. Let someone else’s problem not be yours.
Once again: nobody owes you anything.
The moment you realize that you need to earn the love and respect of others, you will not wait for the impossible and you will not be disappointed. Others are not required to share property, feelings or thoughts with you. And if they do this, it is only because you earned it. And then you can be proud of the love that you deserve and the sincere respect of your friends. But you should never take all this for granted. If you do this, you will lose all these people. They are not “yours by right.” To achieve them and “earn” them every day.
My mountain fell off my shoulders when I realized that no one owed me anything. While I thought I was due, I spent a terrible amount of effort, physical and emotional, to get mine. But in fact, no one owes me good behavior, respect, friendship, politeness or intelligence. And at that moment when I understood this, I began to receive much more satisfaction from all my relationships. I focused on people who want to do the things that I need from them. And it served me well – with friends, business partners, lovers, sellers and strangers. I always remember that I can get what I need only if I enter the world of my interlocutor. I must understand how he thinks, considers important, what he ultimately wants …
It is not so easy to summarize in one letter what I have managed to understand over many years. But maybe if you re-read this letter every Christmas, its meaning will be a little clearer for you every year.