“Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself at all.” William Temple (1881-1944) Archbishop
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom. Proverbs 11:2
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5
Bragging is something we do every now and then. We brag occasionally when there’s a sense of achievement, honor and recognition or success. It’s a feeling of pride and joy we simply wish to share with others, especially with those that matter in their lives. Others make a joke out of it and succeed at getting their point across without getting the flak.
Parents blessed with children who are high achievers, gifted, successful, or rich and famous often are especially fond of this exercise. And people in their circle of influence generally consider it their bragging right, a privilege they quite readily accord someone they like or respect . Others, however, don’t see it in the same light. In fact, they think it’s boasting and to them, it is annoying.
Growing up, I used to hear my mother complain about a distant relative who would always drop by our house with a scruffy portfolio filled with photos of his two daughters who worked as singers/entertainers in Japan. (This was long before “japayukis” ever came into the picture.) They were photos that a child like me would enjoy seeing because the young women looked so pretty in their nice and trendy clothes. My mother thought it was ridiculous and shameful for this father to carry those pictures around to show off to neighbors and townsfolk.
But I didn’t see it that way as a child and even now as an adult and parent myself. While I saw it then as pure form of entertainment, I view it now as a simple bragging right we can easily extend the man who had no other source of pride and joy but her daughters who achieved something for themselves and were dutifully sending help to their parents. If he found happiness in what he did, why would anyone deny him that pleasure?
I don’t blame my mother though. She’s of the belief that no one should toot his own horn for whatever reason. I do, too, but I’m less rigid in my belief and can make some exceptions. Better yet, I can be forgiving and more accommodating under certain circumstances, after all, we all must have been guilty of bragging on certain occasions knowingly or unknowingly, justifiably or not. Often, we do it out of pride, the healthy and pleasant kind that only wishes to share our overflowing joy for having achieved our dream or succeeded at something and as such, don’t think of what we said or did as arrogance or a form of boasting at all. Still, others could see it differently and there’s nothing we can do to change that.
I once had a conversation with a woman whose position in a company involved in real estate sales and marketing went a little too deep into her head. Just a few seconds into our phone conversation, she made sure I learned she was having lunch with the Consul General (whom she emphatically addressed by his first name) and as such, would be too busy to meet with me except within two hours after our phone call and it must be somewhere close to downtown Chicago. She made me feel in more ways than one that since I was the one asking for her business, then I should be the one to make the meeting happen. While it didn’t matter to me that I knew she had her own sales agenda in wanting to meet with me or that it was impossible for me to beat the time, I was completely turned off by her arrogance. I told her I couldn’t make it, maybe next time. She responded, “I won’t be back till next year or maybe not even.” I replied, “That’s okay.”
Like this woman, some people feel a need to drop names to assert self importance and success. Little do they know that it makes them look smaller and less significant in the eyes of those they are trying hard to impress. Genuine success doesn’t need the luster of others in order to be noticed. It has its own brilliance and can shine on its own.
The saying, “Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are,” can only take you so far. It might get your foot in the door but the next steps will be all up to you. If you have what it takes to succeed, you have nothing to worry about.
Trademarks and Brand Names
People can smell arrogance from a mile away. It comes in branded scents that have become society’s measure of success and importance because as consumers, we’ve all been conditioned and primed by these corporate giants to think this way. And we all bite the bait and turn into suckers for trademarks that only highlight social inequality.
Of course, driving a Mercedes Benz, BMW, Jaguar or Lexus or sporting a Hermes bag, Rolex watch, Ferragamo shoes and St. John does make us feel good but if acquiring them is motivated by the desire to make an impression instead of owning them for self gratification – because you can afford it, then it’s all for appearances. Unfortunately, it is when we are too hung up on the name rather than on enjoying the comforts that supposedly come with the brand, that we commit blunders and make a fool of ourselves.
Our society’s measure of success has never been more skewed to justify the insane cost of designer goods but only because we allow ourselves to be manipulated to think that way. As naïve consumers, we bought their advertising pitch hook line and sinker! And we sink in debt as fast as these designer empires build their fortunes.
Back to bragging
and bragging rights
I think that we can allow ourselves a reasonable amount of pride – pride in our accomplishments and work as long as we don’t get carried away by our thoughts of self importance.
I think we can brag a little bit, especially if we do it lightheartedly.
I think we can do what makes us feel good as long as we are cognizant of people’s feelings and thoughts.
But this I believe, if we give all the glory to God instead of getting the credits for ourselves, pride (the annoying kind) will not have a place in our hearts. We will be filled with the humble spirit and our lives will be complete.