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A Good Test Of Pride Level

Rusty - November 26, 2007

What are your immediate feelings when you hear of someone else’s good fortune? Happy for them? Bitter towards them? Sorry for yourself?

I’ve been asking myself this lately and I’ve noticed three things:
1) how often I hear of another’s good fortune.
2) how much my answer changes depending on the person.
3) how easy it is to turn it into being about me.

It is an ugly thing when we as humans can’t be happy for someone else because it’s not us.


  1. #2 is what I do…..I was remembering the other day when I wished this family in our ward who did all the right things, but appeared rather smug about it would have at least one child arrested.

    I’m not very proud of myself right now, just thinking about it.

    Well, my former best friend, who we haven’t really spoken in over a year had trouble with one of her daughters. The girl got pregnant and married and divorced and has a little boy. She’s had a really tough time. She’s now in love and engaged to a good guy and getting married in the temple. I’m nothing but happy for her.

    I’m trying to think of something that bothered me that was good fortune of someone….I know people who bother me, that’s for sure.

    Yeah, still #2.

    Comment by annegb — November 26, 2007 @ 11:24 pm

  2. Rusty – I’m upset with you for reminding me of the ugly side of my personality. I lost a good friend a few years ago who died of a heart attack while at Youth Conference. He died doing exactly what he loved doing – playing baskteball (or football, or baseball or any other sport) with the youth. Natually it was a great loss to his family and his friends inside and outside the church. But it was an even greater loss because of his great example to all of us. He was always so happy for the success of others. He was often responsible, at least in part, for that success but always shunned the spotlight and never wanted to take credit. He was and is such a great example to me of just the opposite of the person you describe above. It is an example I will spend the rest of my life trying to achieve and MAYBE, someday I will become like him. I have a long way to go.

    Comment by Lamonte — November 27, 2007 @ 5:39 am

  3. I have to admit that I was very skeptical of the title—how could anyone come up with a “good test” of something intangible like pride? But I have to hand it to you, I think you nailed this one. (And yes, I’m happy for you—and happy for myself because I got to read it.)

    Comment by BrianJ — November 27, 2007 @ 7:49 am

  4. For me the answer doesn’t vary depending on the person—it varies depending on the good fortune. I get bummed when I hear someone has bought a house. I’m so tired of living in an apartment.

    Comment by Susan M — November 27, 2007 @ 8:37 am

  5. My uncle, who, through his own choices, has never had much money for his very large family. It was never a matter about money –they had plenty –it had more to do with the fact that they spent more than they earned. However, my parents, who had much, much less were extremely frugal, and therefore were always able to save up for the things they wanted: Travel. Everytime my uncle heard about another thing my parents were doing, his response was always the same: “Well, if we were all rich like that.” And huff and huff… My cousin is the same way. Anytime someone has any kid of good fortune in the money area, she speaks as her father did “Wouldn’t it be nice to have money? Some people are just so rich. Wow, good for them” (dripping with sarcasm).

    It was always frustrating to be around them because any time someone else (like us) went on a trip (even though work paid for it), we were suddenly not “good enough” because we were not “poor enough”. It’s easy not to want to be around that type of attitude.

    FWIW–I suffer with this, too, though. But it’s not about money. It’s always about talent and/or getting to where they want to be. It’s hard not to compare myself and wish I were better/smarter/more creative. I have to remind myself (constantly) to be grateful for who I am and for the talents I have been blessed with…

    Comment by Cheryl — November 27, 2007 @ 10:06 am

  6. Apparently Lamonte passes his good AND bad traits on to his children……But I think Rusty has hit on some good questions for relatively humble, church-going people. For example, its easy for a lot of people to confess Gods hand in their life. Its a little bit harder to confess it in the lives of others. Somehow we feel like God is slighting us or something. Elder Holland gave a great talk about this called the other prodigal:


    Some great answers from that talk are:

    How does this happen, especially when we wish so much that it would not? I think one of the reasons is that every day we see allurements of one kind or another that tell us what we have is not enough. Someone or something is forever telling us we need to be more handsome or more wealthy, more applauded or more admired than we see ourselves as being. We are told we haven’t collected enough possessions or gone to enough fun places. We are bombarded with the message that on the world’s scale of things we have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.6 Some days it is as if we have been locked in a cubicle of a great and spacious building where the only thing on the TV is a never-ending soap opera entitled Vain Imaginations.


    Most “thou shalt not” commandments are meant to keep us from hurting others, but I am convinced the commandment not to covet is meant to keep us from hurting ourselves.

    Comment by cj douglass — November 27, 2007 @ 10:15 am

  7. You think you have problems, Russ? You’re not single! Must be nice to ask these questions when they have nothing wanting…

    I also have a hard time getting genuinely happy for someone for something I either don’t care about or don’t approve of. I have students tell me how great it is they’re getting a tattoo or piercing and I just half heartedly try to show my care. They’re not members so it’s not really “bad” and as their teacher I’m in no position to lecture on the subject.

    Comment by Bret — November 27, 2007 @ 3:36 pm

  8. I used to feel this way until I realized that the success of others — particularly their financial success — had no negative impact on my success. There is not a fixed-size economic pie where those who have more get it at the expense of those with less. I discovered that wealth is created, and that I could create wealth anytime I chose.

    Once I’d figured that out, it was obvious that the same holds true of my physical fitness, or developing my talents, or whatever. In a few short months I went from envying others who had more or did better than I to being inspired by their examples.

    It’s a very liberating state of mind, and I’m rather ashamed it took me until my middle 30s to figure it out.

    Comment by acm — November 27, 2007 @ 4:15 pm

  9. What are your immediate feelings when you hear of someone else’s good fortune?

    I’m happy for them, unless I know that their good fortunate occurred via “thou shalt not kill, steal, lie, etc.”. In that case I feel sorry for them.

    Comment by Daylan — November 27, 2007 @ 8:50 pm

  10. I think I’m plenty prideful, but it wouldn’t occur to me to begrudge anybody else’s happiness / success / luck / whatever. (Though if one of a select few people I despise had bad fortune, I might get a little kick out of that. D’oh.) Pride comes in lots of flavors, sadly.

    Comment by RCH — November 28, 2007 @ 11:04 am

  11. I agree with #9 on this one. When someone tells me about something good happening to them, I try to make a big deal about it with them, celebrating. “You got the job? Awesome! I’m SO happy for you! And it is exactly what you’ve always wanted to do? Oh, you are sitting pretty! Hooray!”

    When you get in the habit of doing that, people love to bring you their good news, because then they can depend on someone being just as happy for them as they are for themselves.

    Comment by Michaela Stephens — July 22, 2008 @ 11:01 pm

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