“What have you done today to make you feel proud?”, sang Heather Small.
A really powerful ballad that, in my mind, offers a challenge to us all: it’s never too late to achieve anything, if you put your mind to it. Don’t let the detractors in your life get in the way. Be positive. Be resilient. Be proud.
However, the word “pride” evokes a range of reactions. It’s considered one of the Seven Deadly Sins, but in the context of it being an excessive belief in one’s own abilities to the point of arrogance, snobbishness, condescension, a sense of superiority, vanity. It has been called the sin from which all others arise.
Pride, if misplaced, can really get in the way. It can be a form of stubbornness that prevents us acknowledging when things aren’t going well, and then stops us from asking for help.
Or worse, it can give such an over-inflated opinion of yourself that you consider yourself untouchable. We see this in today’s cult of celebrity. Unchecked pride (the arrogance type) causes many celebs to be consumed about their appearance, wealth, profile and number of Instagram followers. When they step out of line they are genuinely shocked if asked to account for their actions.
These gloomy versions of pride have tainted it. Made us prejudiced against it.
Pride can be a positive trait. It can boost your self-esteem and self-worth, adding value and meaning to your existence. Absolutely nothing wrong with that whatsoever. In fact, seek out things to be proud of each and every day.
Set yourself small goals and bask in the feelings generated when you achieve them. Not in that haughty, “look at me” way, just an honest internal reflection of your success. Plan to visit a friend or family member you haven’t seen for a while. Get that last bit of DIY done in the kitchen.
Sometimes the “pride” comes spontaneously. Giving up your seat on the train to someone deserving, showing concern for a colleague who’s having a tough day, getting five answers right in the daily newspaper tea-break quiz. Recognise when you have earned “good” pride, and celebrate it.
Instead of pride coming before a fall, I prefer to think it follows a success.
So, what have you done today to make you feel proud?