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Healthy Pride

I said before that I can get a little philosophical… sort of in the way that the ocean is a little wet. So today I will regurgitate some past thoughts I’ve had on the matter of Pride.

Pride is said to be one of the deadly sins; the worst one of them all. People tell you to put aside all pride, be humble in all things, and pretty much bow down to anyone telling you that you’re being too prideful. And yet, one totally without pride cannot live, excel, or care about life. Without pride, one will have no reason to do one’s best or achieve anything. Without pride, one may be satisfied to live on welfare, do any menial task given him, and find himself under another’s control. With completely no pride, one can even be made to commit sinful or heinous acts, since he has no pride that would make him stop.

But Pride can be what makes you excel, what makes you refuse to do something that may be both beneath you and wrong. Pride can help you reach for that brass ring.

Say you need a job, and the choice is between the first low-pay hamburger-flipping thing that comes along versus holding out for something better because you know that you are worth more. Without pride, anyone can just tell you, “You’ll take what I decide to pay you because you aren’t worth anything more than that,” and you’ll take it because you’re supposed to be humble and stuff. But with a bit of pride you can respond with, “I have ten years of experience and a degree! I’m not working for anything less than my worth.”

Pride in one’s work often yields the best that Mankind has ever achieved. It is the reason why we’re on the Moon, the reason why you can walk into a pottery shop and see works of art as opposed to simple clay pots that are “just good enough”. Pride will be the reason why you stick through things to achieve your dreams and gain a far better life.

Pride is how you can hold your head high when you know that at the least you have done your best no matter the outcome. At the other extreme, a lack of pride will have you believing that you have no “best”, and pull you down into the pit of depression.

And yet too much pride can lead one to be unwilling to accept any help when he needs it, and lead to that whole deadly sin thing. The wrong type of pride can lead to wreck and ruin of one’s self and those around him. It can make you completely miss that golden opportunity you’d been searching for. It can make you believe any lie that another tells you simply because you refuse to admit to yourself that you just might know better than that other guy.

So where is the dividing line between “good healthy” pride and “deadly” pride?

The answer is Truth itself. Self-Truth. By seeing the full truth (both positive and negative) of one’s capabilities, history, and life, then Pride can be tempered from becoming the full-out deadly sin, as the knowing of the full truth of one’s self and the situation would automatically reign in the Pride and allow it to remain useful instead of a hindrance.

I’m not simply talking a knowing of your limits, but of your full capabilities as well; know equally well your virtues as well as your limits. Are you the best in something? Then own it, know it as a simple fact. Know what you can do equally as well as what you can not do.

For instance, in my case the simple fact would be, “Yes, I am a magnificent storyteller and writer, but mainly when it comes to certain types of fiction. On the down side, I absolutely stink at self-promotion.” I recognize both of those statements to be true and own both of them, and because of that it means that I am less prone to letting someone talk me down to below what I know I should be getting for a ghostwriting job, which has direct consequences in such practicalities as getting my bills paid. But it also means that if someone wants me to write up a project that involves any sort of marketing angle that I tell them up front “I am not the man for this job” and avoid a lot of unpleasant consequences. It means that I know to seek help when it comes to anything PR or Marketing related.

That’s just my own personal example. I am sure you can think of others in your own life where admitting to yourself, “Hey, I’m really good at this and should be proud of it!” would have saved you just as much misery and pain as admitting, “But I’m not so good at this other thing, so I really need help for that!”

In short:

Pride with Self-Truth = Healthful Pride

Pride without Self-Truth = the Deadly Sin

To say that all pride is bad, is ignoring the fact that there is more than one type of Pride. Keep that one simple fact in mind, and you should be good.

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