My candidate didn’t win.

I didn’t get in the grad school I wanted.

The turkey’s too dry.

The doctor called. We should sit down.

From the trivial to the life-threatening, 2016 has been a chaotic year for many Americans. Sometimes alone, sometimes together, we’ve faced tragedy, hardship, joy, excitement and hope. Weaving through it all though is a sense of unrest, an uneasy feeling that life is not — today — as it should be.

Whether that unease took the form of Making America Great Again or another call for change, woven through the moment was a message of entitlement.

Increasingly, we Americans feel entitled. To what, we’re not always sure, but it’s always something we don’t have. We’re entitled to money, a car, a phone, a job, retirement, purpose, respect… you name it. Our culture reminds us constantly that the life of our dreams is just a stone’s throw away. Hollywood tells us that we’re just one happy accidental run-in with fate from the American Dream.

When our life doesn’t look like the Hollywood version, we become bitter, jealous and entitled.

The American Dream was never about being entitled to an outcome, however. It was always about being entitled to the opportunity. Regardless of race, gender, income or family, in America we are entitled to the opportunity to dream.

Achieving that dream is up to us. It takes legitimate hard work, passion and skill, but the opportunity to achieve the dream is there to anyone willing to fight for it.

That’s what American Exceptionalism is all about: the right to dream big and freedom to pursue your dreams. When we grow government, pass new regulations and increase taxes it has the same effect as wrapping a runner in weights. Chasing the dream becomes unnecessarily harder for the runner, and discourages others from even starting the race.

When we are cut off from a dream, we becoming bitter and spiteful. That bitterness leads to jealousy — and entitlement.

So this Thanksgiving, take a breath. We will not gather around the table to give thanks for entitlement, division or bitterness. We give thanks for opportunity, blessings and freedom. These are the seeds from which dreams grow.

Let’s be thankful we have free elections, where we the people choose our elected representatives.

Let’s be thankful we have access to great education options, some of the best in the world.

Let’s be thankful we have one of the greatest healthcare systems in the world, and the hope that it will only get better in the years ahead.

And yes, let’s even be thankful for that store around the corner where you can still get a cooked turkey on Thanksgiving… after the fire trucks leave.

Check out the video below to learn more about American Exceptionalism, or visit this page to learn more.

What are you thankful for this year? Let us know on Facebook!

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