I’ve been thinking a lot about living a life that I’m proud of, which means I’ve been stumbling around thinking about pride—a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements.
It’s funny because as soon as I finished reading that definition my brain automatically was thinking of awards, recognition or external validation—something that a person hands to you or says to you. But, that upsets me because then some external force has the ability to decide whether or not I’ve been successful or achieved something. But, in all actuality…I want to decide what I am proud of or not.
Did I wake up and make a nourishing breakfast? Win.
Did I listen to someone with an open mind today? Success.
Did I work towards a larger goal today? Achievement!
However, I’m sure someone would scoff at my list above—”That’s nothing to celebrate or feel proud of!” But, I am proud of those moments because I’m sure-as-hell not doing things worth getting an award every single day of the week—there are some days when I lay down to go to sleep and I think to myself, “Hmm…what can I celebrate as a win?” and I can only think of one thing.
I challenge you to reflect on your markers for success or pride in your own life—are you setting the bar so high that you’ll never reach it or is your bar sitting too low that nothing feels like an achievement? You have the power to define what a life that you’re proud of looks like, which is both amazing and scary!
I read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s quote,
“I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you are not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again”
and am struck by the empowerment I feel. I am the person who gets to decide if I’m proud of my life—not social media or my parents or my neighbors or even my closest friends—just me! I can mark all the smallest win as something to feel proud of or I can only let that joy in for the big things that people externally tell me.
I believe a lot of us wait for someone to tell us to be proud instead of feeling it for ourselves. We wait for someone to give us a compliment or email us a thumbs up, when really we could be boosting ourselves every single minute of the day. So, I encourage people who aren’t feeling proud of their lives to take a pause and write a list of today’s wins—anything that you feel proud of. I warn you, if you’re only trained to see big wins then you might have to sit down and really allow yourself to feel proud of the small moments—getting out of bed on time to go to work, smiling at a coworker who you disagree with, paying a bill, or even reading part of an article—it’s okay to start with the smaller things and let those fill you up!
Every single person can feel proud of their life…if they want to! Baby steps…then, you can start to work towards the deeper sense of pride that we’re all looking for, which I think is inextricably attached to purpose. We feel a lot of pride from working towards a larger goal or purpose, whether that’s professionally or personally—starting a new business or starting a family—those are big moments where it’s a little bit easier for pride to fill you up because people are often saying, “Congrats! What a beautiful baby” or “What a lovely house.” But try to keep in mind that a feeling of pride should always come within yourself instead of from someone else, otherwise you’re passing the power of your life to someone else.
I’ll leave you with one small change to help other people gain a sense of pride in their own life. Instead of telling people, “I am so proud of you!” make the small change to, “I hope you are so proud of yourself!” because you then allow someone to feel their own pride instead of handing it to them.