Welcome to Positivity Practice #6! This week we’re taking a closer look at Pride. If you’re just joining us, we are more than halfway through our practices based on the top 10 positive emotions from Dr. Barbara Fredrickson’s book Positivity: Top Notch Research Reveals the Upward Spiral That Will Change Your Life.
If you recall, we’re learning ways to “broaden and build” upon positive emotions, Dr. Fredrickson’s bedrock philosophy. The most important thing to remember is to be open to them and to savor them.
Pride: a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from on’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated; a sense of one’s dignity or worth; be especially proud of a particular quality or skill.
Synonyms: ego, pridefulness, self-esteem, self-regard, self-respect.
As a wellness coach, I think that pride gets a bad rap. Firstly, it is considered one of the Seven Deadly Sins and takes this wonderful positive emotion and frames it in it’s most extreme form – hubris. Secondly, after sitting in hundreds of coaching sessions, I can tell you for sure that my clients are not suffering from an overabundance of pride. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Session after session, I remind them to have more pride for their accomplishments instead of only looking at what wasn’t achieved.
Why is this? Perhaps, some of it is cultural. When I lived in England as a graduate student in theatre 20 years ago, I discovered to my chagrin, that it was frowned upon to be too boastful. That was news to me. I’m a pretty outspoken New Yorker, not afraid to share my accomplishments. It was hard to get used to. There are also certain parts of the United States as well that are far more modest than others. Some of it comes directly from our parents and families.
It still boggles me why we are so damn hard on ourselves (myself included). I know that some of our internal negativity is hardwired into our brains as a survival mechanism, but it looks like we’ve taken it way, way past its original intended use to keep the human species going. What I have found, is that clients have no problem feeling proud about the accomplishments for their children, grandchildren, spouses, nieces, nephews, friends, colleagues, etc…What goes lacking is celebrating that same sense of pride for their own.
As I mentioned, clients will come into my office with their heads hanging their head low, quick to point out all of the ways they fell short of their weekly goals. Yet, when we do a weekly goal review, nine times out of ten, that client has actually achieved much more than they perceived. This is why I love to coach. I help them to celebrate their own success in some way in every session. I think of myself as the pride whisperer!
Although it can seem annoying now that we are so embedded in social media, it has made a tremendous impact about how we broadcast our pride. Posting on social media is a boon for the otherwise timid and can enable you to share achievements big and small. I know some of you are rolling your eyes, cursing that latest post of your best friend’s cheesecake, but take a moment to see why they are doing it. Have they learned how to bake for the first time? Are they making a cheesecake for their sick Aunt Rosie? Recognize and celebrate their success with them. Although the internet is overrun with its fair share of narcissists, not everyone is one, so let’s give our social circles the benefit of the doubt. There are plenty of people who seek attention attention’s sake without actually doing anything meaningful, and that’s not pride, that’s just annoying (and thankfully you can delete them).
I have a recent accomplishment I am extremely proud of that I’d like to share with you:
Two Sundays ago, I took my seat on the bike at the indoor cycling studio, CycleBar, in Fort Lee, NJ. Immediately, I noticed that I was flanked by a number of beautiful, perky, fit young women all wearing little black sports bras (the ones with the fancy backs) and leggings, and none who could be over 30 (let alone 26) – just about half my age. I soon found out that they also all just happened to be Cyclebar instructors to boot. Mind you, these classes are rhythm rides where you move on the bike to the beat of the music. Being in a row of instructors had just upped the ante – big time.
Although I was a cycle instructor in the past, I’ve had to put a lot of work into learning how to rhythm ride, especially at a fast pace. The fancy lights lowered and it was do or die time. I said to hell with it, and peeled off my shirt down to my sports bra to match these nubile women.
Guess what? I killed it! Tap backs, push-ups, quick fires, obliques – nailed it. I matched these instructors move for move. We were a front row force to be reckoned with. I couldn’t be prouder of myself; proud of myself for working out in my sports bra which I haven’t done in a very long time, proud of myself for doing all the fancy moves from top to bottom, and proud of myself for looking like the pro I know myself to be.
Here’s what I want you to do this week: share your own story of pride. Tell a friend, post it on social media, share it at the dinner table with your family, or share it here. There is absolutely nothing wrong with letting the world know how incredibly fabulous your achievements are. No wonder this positive emotion made it into the top ten!