We all want to have a life that we can be proud of.
We want a life that we’re happy to show to others. We want relationships where we feel like equals with the other person. We want a life full of memories and activities that accurately reflect the values we hold dear.
Quite often, that pride can drive us to great things. It can push us to work harder. It can push us to build more rewarding relationships. It can push us to commit more strongly to our core values.
The challenge comes when that pride is channeled in the wrong direction. It can push us to spend our time and money in incredibly foolish ways.
Once upon a time, my pride nearly drove me to financial ruin.
I tried incredibly hard to keep up with the people in my life and I did so by buying things and going out for expensive evenings almost constantly. I’d think nothing of dropping $50 on the latest video game or $40 for a trip to the movies mostly so I could talk about them in my social circle.
Instead of chasing long-term meaningful relationships, I chased the short-term rush of being envied (or at least accepted) by acquaintances. I was pretty proud of being the guy who knew all about the latest movies or always knew about the latest gadgets. I took pride in that and chased it.
Being that guy merely left me without money and without a lot of long-term valuable relationships. I could feel good in the short term about what I had, but whenever I thought about the long term, I didn’t have such happy feelings. I couldn’t picture a lot of the people in my life at the time still being in my life in twenty years. I certainly couldn’t see a clear financial path from my situation to where I wanted to be in twenty years.
I was proud of the short-term social position I held, but I gradually began to grow very distraught about the long-term implications of that position.
Eventually, I had to re-evaluate my sources of pride. More specifically, I began to seek out long-term sources of pride.
What’s the difference? If you own the latest phone, you can be proud of that and make your friends envious for a short while, but it’s not going to be long before someone else has a better one.
On the other hand, if you have a beautiful home that’s paid for, you’re going to be able to be proud of that for a very long time. It’s a symbol of financial security and stability.
If you have a shiny new car, it won’t be shiny and new within a few years. If your pride is based on having a shiny new car, then you’re going to have to replace it regularly at a pretty high expense.
If you’re proud of having a reliable car instead, you can be proud of that for many years. Take pride on having a car that’s ran well for 200,000 miles instead of a car that’s got a recent model year.
You can be proud of having a contact list full of acquaintances, but those acquaintances will slip away like grains of sand. On the other hand, you can be proud of having a smaller group of lifetime friends that will be there for you through thick and thin.
In almost every case, being proud of something that will last for a long time will serve you much better than having pride in something that is fleeting.
A long-term friend is not one that you have to continually impress. A car with reliability is not one you’re going to have to get replaced very frequently. A home that is paid for is not draining your wallet via interest.
What are the long-term things in your life that you are most proud of? What are the things that you draw pride from that are more transient? How can you replace those transient things?