What is pride anyway? I looked it up and found several definitions. My favorite on is from Wikipedia; "Pride is an inwardly directed emotion that carries two antithetical meanings. With a negative connotation pride refers to a foolishly and irrationally corrupt sense of one's personal value, status, or acomplishments, used synonymously with hubris. With a positive connotation, pride refers to a humble and content sense of attachment toward one's own or another's choices and actions, or toward a whole group of people, and is a product of praise, independent self-reflection, and a fulfilled feeling of belonging. Pride can be both good and bad.
Philosophers and social psychologists have noted that pride is a complex secondary emotion which requires the development of a sense of self and the mastery of relevant conceptual distinctions through language-based interactions with others." That's a very long, but I think important, desciption. Here's why:
Ok, so we know that pride can help us and it can hurt us. Let's look at the good aspects of pride. Pride can be useful when we're trying to maintain high standards, like me when I say I'm proud of my work. Pride keeps me want...and trying...to do my best. But pride in an accomplishment is only one way that pride is helpful. We can take pride in others, both as individuals and as groups. We can take pride in our religion, our nationality, and our language. Pride can also be a manipulation tool. Governments often take advantage of citizens' pride in their country in order to get them to join the military and fight for their country. Pride most often occurs, though, after we work hard, peristing through adversity, to achieve a success. And we should feel pride in our accomplishments! Pride can be a great motivator. Pride, however, can turn nasty....
When pride makes us feel superior to others, causing us to look down on them, it is often referred to as being prideful. The dark side of pride can rear it's head when we start comparing our accomplishments to the accomplishments of others. This, as I'm sure you know, can lead to either feelings of superiority or inferiority. When we find ourselves feeling inferior, we can become venegeful and spiteful, saying and doing things that are hurtful. These dark actions only serve to hold us back from being the best we can be.
We all have things to be proud of and one particularly good use of pride is to help others feel pride in the things that they do. The key here is to do it honestly; don't use it as a tool of manipulation! In and of itself, pride is neither good nor bad. It's what we do with it that determines it usefulness. And we never want to let pride go to our head...that can be very distracting. It can give us an over-inflated sense of self importance. It can turn from honest pride to boasting very quickly.
I looked for an interesting quote on pride to use as the end of this blog. I found literally hundreds of them, mostly saying how terrible pride is. I did find this one quote, though, that beautifully expresses how pride can benefit us. Unfortunately, it wasn't referenced and I don't have clue who said it. "Take pride in how far you've come and have faith in how far you can go." We must never rest on our laurels...that is negative pride at it's worst, but using pride to push us farther along our true path is pride as it's very best.