At church, we can say that some of the most challenging students are the ones who belong to younger age groups. The attention span of some children are short, they easily get bored, and the tactics used to get their attentions don’t work anymore. However, the most insightful answers can come from young learners. These pure, innocent children do share amusing but thought provoking answers. For instance, they taught me about overcoming pride.
After discussing the pride cycle, a story of how Book of Mormon characters go through a cycle of pride, destruction, humility, and prosperity, I decided to ask the little kids what are ways that make a person prideful. One of my primary kids said “Pride is when you get the biggest pizza slice, and keep two more slices because you don’t want others to have a taste of it.” Of course, the other kids giggled because of this answer. But the thought lingered to me for a long time.
When we speak of pride, there are many things that come with it. Pride can be manifested in our desire to always get ahead of another because it feels good to be better than another. At times, pride can be seen when we detest the successes of other people. Pride takes many forms and the ancient and modern prophets have seen it happen especially in our day when technology, knowledge, opportunities are available to almost everyone. A research from the University of California – San Diego shows that among millennials “envy was a common experience. More than three fourths of all study participants reported experiencing envy in the last year, with slightly more women (79.4 percent) than men (74.1 percent).”
This form of pride can hit us in one way or another. In this time when getting ahead of the pack is crucial to survival, it is inevitable that we feel threatened when someone gets more blessings than us. These feelings bring dissatisfaction, and sometimes, depression. How do we get over this? Is there truly a way towards overcoming pride?
An ancient Prophet from the Book of Mormon, Jacob, illustrates so succinctly one of the best ways to overcoming pride. In Jacob 2:17, he says
“Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you.”
How can we practice this?
1.) “Think of your brethren like unto yourselves.”
I love this quote from Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley. He said:
“Generally speaking, the most miserable people I know are those who are obsessed with themselves; the happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others…By and large, I have come to see that if we complain about life, it is because we are thinking only of ourselves.”
This is hard to deny. In this world where self-promotion is so popular, it is inevitable not to think of ourselves so frequently. But the first step to overcoming pride (and all the negative feelings and actions that come with it) is to think of our brethren like the way we think of ourselves.
2.) “Be familiar with all.”
One of the best results that come from thinking about other people is that we become more sensitive to their needs. When we become familiar with them, we begin to feel the need to “mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those who stand in need of comfort.” Pride brings in more negative emotions, while service helps us see how blessed we are. Service is a great anti-depressant, a total opposite to pride and envy.
3.) “Free with your substance.”
In the song “Because I have been Given Much,” a particular line rings true:
“Because I have been given much, I too must give. Because of Thy great bounty, Lord, each day I live. I shall divide my gifts from Thee with every brother that I see who has the need of help from me.”
Unbeknownst to us, pride can sometimes make us not appreciate the blessings that come with us. It may sound counterintuitive but there is always a sense of happiness and satisfaction that comes to us when we free ourselves with our substance. When we feel love towards another the way we feel about ourselves, knowing their circumstances, we get the inspiration to share our blessings. Like my primary student’s example, pride is taking everything for ourselves. The way to overcome pride is to free ourselves with our substance in order to help another.
4.) “They may be rich like unto you.”
The cut throat competition in today’s world tells us in glaring words “How to get ahead of the crowd,” “How to be the Best Above All,” “How to Win in the Competitive World.” Competition is everywhere; we see them even in the simplest scenes of life like people pushing and shoving each other just to get the best seat inside the train. Pride makes it so hard for us to be happy when other people succeed. But overcoming pride is about helping each other gain success. Indeed, seeing another succeed because of your selflessness is a great way to overcome the tendency to be prideful.
Pride is an enemy, and it’s not one of the easiest enemies to beat. I agree with my student, it’s tempting to keep the slices of pizzas to ourselves. However, if we follow the admonition of Jacob, we can find ways in overcoming pride and all the negative feelings that come with it. President Henry B. Eyring once said: ““As you have kept the commandment to serve others, you have felt a change in your feelings of pride.”
I’m grateful for a Book of Mormon Prophet who offered this advice in such a simple and meaningful manner. May we be consistent in our desire to overcome pride in this mortal journey of ours. Let’s share our pizza slices and make many people happy.