Thought from Dr. Joe: Contemplating today¿s 'youts'

March 23, 2011|By Joe Puglia

Last week I received some e-mail regarding my last column on self-reliance. One correspondent wrote, “Dr. Joe, how do you deal with today’s sense of entitlement?”

Good question!

Another asked, “Don’t you think kids complain too much about the difficulties around them?”

Guys, I ain’t Dr. Phil. But let me share some thoughts regarding a symposium I recently attended about the ills that plague today’s youth. (Or “youts,” as I like to say. Did you see the movie “My Cousin Vinny” with Joe Pesci? That’s how his character pronounces “youths” in that film.)

The speaker discussed the difficulties of youth in regard to education, competition and racial, economic and social concerns. However, the focus quickly disintegrated into a forum of complaints.


If I heard the phrase self-esteem one more time, I was going to throw the speaker out the window. I was tired of listening to New Age psychotherapeutic babblers gurgling about the difficulties of life for youth and that it's somebody else's fault.

I remember attending a 12-week philosophy course during my college years. My teacher was Sgt. Winston. His philosophy was simple: He expected that at zero-dark-hundred we should leap up like jackrabbits when he threw a trash can down the floor of a rusty old barracks. Then, we should spend the day at a dead run, learning and mastering all that he taught us. He didn't care whether we wanted to do these things or if we could do them. We were going to do them and we did.

Sgt. Winston, an accomplished therapist, perfected the attitude adjustment. If the urge to complain overcame any of us, he took his attitude tool, a size-12 boot, and made the necessary adjustments. It put us in touch with our feelings. We felt like not complaining any more. We learned that there are things you have to do and that we could do them. We learned to take care of each other and believe in ourselves in spite of self-esteem, and that sacrificing for the country would be our duty.

We also learned that complaining is humiliating. He stressed, “We should solve our problems or live with them, or have the grace to shut up about them.” Sarge believed in personal responsibility. If your life turns dismal, is it somebody else's fault?

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