"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

Pride, done right, can fuel our successes

By on June 27, 2018 in Columnist with 0 Comments

June DarlingBy June Darling

Check through your memory of quotes on pride.

Think about what your coaches, teachers, and ministers have told you. You’ll quickly notice that pride is a tricky topic. Is it a good thing or not?

Some people, like famed Alabama head football coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant claim pride is essential for success. “Show class, have pride, and display character. If you do, winning takes care of itself,” he said.

Then there’s the coach who, by the mere mention of his name, causes tears of deep admiration to spring to my daughter-in-law’s eyes. UCLA’s iconic basketball coach John Wooden said, “Earn the right to be proud and confident.”

Bear and Wooden. Pretty trustworthy sources.

But wait. Both the ancient Greeks and the writer of the biblical book of Proverbs claim that pride is the road to demise. Many of us grew up quoting “pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

What’s the deal? Why do we have these two very different takes on pride? Do we need more pride or do we already suffer from having too much?

The answer, according to current research, is that there are two kinds of pride. One type of pride is of paramount importance to well-being, achievement, and motivation. The other type of pride is mostly detrimental.

Eight years ago, I watched my two-year-old granddaughter, Sierra, complete (what was for her) an extremely difficult puzzle. When she put in the last piece, she hopped on both feet for at least two full minutes.

Then, unbelievably, she tore the puzzle up and started doing it all over again. Whoa. What just happened there?

The answer is. Pride. She felt the fulfilling, delight of pride. The pride Sierra felt was a specific type of pride researchers call authentic pride.

Authentic pride is the deep satisfaction you feel (yes, “feel” — pride is an emotion) when you successfully overcome a difficult hurdle which matters to you.

When we experience authentic pride, we also feel confident and fulfilled, like we have self-worth. Once you feel pride you’re often hooked for life.

The need to feel pride is perhaps the biggest motivator on the planet according to some researchers like Dr. Jessica Tracy in her book, Pride: The Secret of Success.

Bicyclist Lance Armstrong said that pride is what got him up at the crack of dawn as a kid and motivated him to ride for miles each day.

Unfortunately, according to researchers and to Lance himself, that strong desire to feel pride led to Lance going over to the dark side. He took illegal performance enhancing drugs.

People who know how good pride feels may cheat to get it. They get a thrill, but it’s the cheap thrill that comes not from achievement, but from feeling superior to others called hubristic pride.

Eventually Lance was found out and stripped of his medals.

Hubristic pride can lead to a fall and is clearly not good for relationships (it’s hard to love an egotistical, arrogant lout).

To sum it up, the type of authentic pride we get after being productive and accomplishing something that has personal significance for us is essential for living the good life.

But we do need to be careful. Authentic pride can mutate into arrogant, hubristic pride, which is about feeding the ego by acting superior to others.

Wooden called his players back away from hubristic pride to authentic pride with quotes like, “Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

This July, however, I’m not only thinking about personal pride. I’m thinking also about the importance of community and national pride. And just as there are good and bad forms of personal pride, so there are good and bad forms of pride in our country.

Good patriotism is not haughty nor arrogant.

Good patriotism motivates us to continue the hard work of solving complex problems, even when it involves personal sacrifice.

We can be patriots of our own country and be citizens of the world as well.

President Kennedy modeled that in his 1961 inaugural address:

“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”

July is the perfect time to experience pride, to get hopping.

Start by asking yourself big questions. What can you do for your community, your country, for the larger world? What ideals do you care about? What hard steps are you willing to take to feel authentically proud of yourself?

How might we experience authentic pride and patriotism this month and move up to The Good Life?

June Darling, Ph.D. can be contacted at drjunedarling1@gmail.com; website: www.summitgroupresources.com. Her bio and many of her books can be found at amazon.com/author/junedarling.

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