Pride is a virtue, not a sin. Too often, people confuse pride with arrogance, or more extremely, narcissism. It is my strongly-held opinion that pride and arrogance are opposites, not synonyms.
Pride is about what you’ve done, arrogance is about what you already are. Arrogance is a kind of stagnation, but pride is a drive to improve.
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I have no shame in the fact I am a highly proud person. I think it is an admirable trait to be proud. As someone who has pride, I am always looking to better myself every single day. I am never satisfied with where I currently am. In everything that matters to me, I see a tremendous amount of room to improve, always, especially when it comes to my knowledge base and my overall wisdom. In my own eyes, I am never good enough. This is why I say arrogance is the opposite of pride. Arrogance is the feeling that you are good enough as you are, in any regard. Nobody is good enough as they are. I see this in everyone, including myself, and in my own strange ways, I try to get others to understand this about themselves as well, because I believe everyone ought to.
Pride also refers to the sense of looking at what you’ve done and deriving satisfaction from it. There isn’t one sole definition for pride, but its definitions mostly orbit the same thing.
I used to be homeless. I come from one of the most rampantly homeless areas in the US. I may not have lived on the streets specifically, but I did live in my car and kept my belongings in the backseats and the trunk. What got me out of being homeless? Was it counseling, was it mooching, was it a handout? No, it was pride. I looked at my life and I got sick of it. I was sick of having no money, I was sick of not being able to just watch a movie once in a while, and most importantly, I was sick of not contributing to the betterment of others. It’s difficult to do that when you a parasite. I was sick of all of it. I wanted to be able to look in the mirror and see somebody worthwhile. I wanted to look in the mirror and see somebody that others could look at and want to emulate.
Perhaps, in a way, pride is also what made me homeless in the first place. For a few years after I walked away from religion, finding meaning to my life was damn near impossible, since my life’s meaning and purpose revolved entirely around belief in and servitude toward God. When I became an atheist, my entire past felt like one giant lie. It felt like I had wasted my time devoting so much time and energy into utter nonsense. That hurt my pride. I also took a very long time to learn and gain enough wisdom to not need religion anymore, but I first had to suffer aimlessness and uncertainty. It would have been safer to have lied to myself and kept believing in God, but my drive to have knowledge and wisdom didn’t allow it.
Arrogance is wanting to win arguments, but pride is wanting to be right. You can win every argument and still be wrong. Most people, I’ve observed, get into arguments to simply win. I prefer debate, hearing points from different perspectives, and during debate, use process of elimination to see which points remain standing. That is how you find truth. But debate is hard to come by, because most people aim to simply make you back down and submit to their point-of-view. And no knowledge or wisdom is gained.
I see pride as the active embracing of the fact that one isn’t perfect yet still striving to be. It is one thing to know you aren’t perfect, and another thing to embrace that fact and use it as a driving force. Too many people either see themselves as just fine the way they are, or accept they have issues and choose to do nothing about it. I say work on fixing it; all of it. Don’t know something? Fix it. Can’t do something? Fix it. Don’t have something? Fix it. If you can’t overcome it, then circumvent it or adapt to it.
Being dissatisfied never left me. It’s with me every day, and it will be until I die. That is pride, and it’s a damn good thing to have.
This has been a thought from Thinking Michael. Thanks for reading.
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