We have no reason for pride

Many people are proud of their achievements, allowing their egos to be inflated by their perceived brilliance. However, upon closer inspection, there are really no achievements that we can truly claim credit for. Our success is undoubtedly dependent upon many people – our teachers, our colleagues, our parents, and our friends. For any achievement, a certain set of events or conditions had to occur. Usually, we will find a fair amount of luck involved as well.

We may object to this and claim that it was our intelligence, courage, or willingness to learn, that allowed us to succeed. We will say that we made our own luck, and took full advantage of our opportunities. Perhaps we feel that we succeeded “against all odds”, and that our success is despite those around us, not because of them. However, whatever qualities we feel are responsible for our success do not really belong to us. Our intelligence and determination just trace back to our genes and our upbringing – nature and nurture. Ultimately, we cannot claim credit for these qualities, and thus we have no reason for pride.

The reader may object and point out that this logic applies equally well to the opposite of pride: shame. That is exactly right – we have no reason for pride and we have no reason for shame either. In fact, we have no reason for any of these self-evaluative emotions. Our grounds for individualism are shaky at best – our lives are interdependent, we cannot claim anything as separately and independently ours. Thus, the concept of ego is an illusion, and the less time we spend propping it up with self-centered emotions such as pride and shame, the better.

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