Taking What is Yours

Do you know the true meaning of taking what is yours? I’ve come to some interesting conclusions.

I was reading an interesting book the other day that mentioned the four core principles in many areas of philosophy, psychology and wisdom literature. One of those principles was “taking what is yours.”

I have been thinking about what “taking is yours” means, and I’ve come to some interesting conclusions, I think.


The first thing we usually think of, if we’re told to “take what is yours,” is to not take what isn’t ours. We think we’re being told to take “only” what is ours, and to be careful to not take anything that belongs to someone else.

But is that it? I don’t think so. I think if that were what the great philosophers, psychologists and wisdom writers had in mind, they would say, “Take only what is yours.”

But what they actually say is that we should take what is ours. In other words, we should think of ourselves, care for ourselves, and take what we need, if it is ours to take.

As an example of this, I want to talk about people who consistently under-earn, based on their qualifications, education and experience. These people are obviously not taking what is theirs. By any reasonable measure, they are not being paid what they deserve.

So, these people are not taking what is theirs. But aren’t we allowed to make that decision? Don’t we get to under-earn or not take all that is ours?

No, I don’t think so. I think the reason this is such a core principle of so many different thinkers’ philosophies is that we cannot be healthy, and happy, and take care of our responsibilities, if we’re not taking what is ours.

Here’s another very quick example of that. This shows more clearly how not taking what is ours affects everyone else. Have you ever noticed those people who stop at green lights so the person wanting to turn right into the intersection can go ahead? They think they’re just being nice. But what they’re doing is not going through a green light that is theirs to go through. They disrupt all the traffic trying to get through that light. They can even cause wrecks, because no one expects them to stop dead at a green light.

We need to take what is ours, not only because it is ours, but because taking what is ours is a basic requirement for meeting our own responsibilities in this world. If we’re not getting what we deserve, if we’re not taking what is ours to take, it affects everyone around us.

Let’s go back to the under-earner. That person’s family suffers because of his or her inability, or unwillingness, to earn a fair wage. At a minimum, refusing to take what we need affects those nearest us.

Thanks to Life Insurance Lowdown for including this post in the Carnival of Life, Happiness, and Meaning.

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