“Always take pride in everything you do” seems to me to be an undeniably powerful phrase. Not something I’d normally cling on to, the phrase appeared as a final line in a Carlsberg advert in the cinema recently. It struck me, for some reason, as not (just) the cheesy one-liner of a family business, but to make perfect sense in every (good) aspect of life. That was a very convoluted sentence, but what I mean is the average person can take pride in a lot of things they take for granted. I mean, the phenomenon of middle class women with children all dressed in expensive ethical clothing, and fed every possible organic thing on this planet, seeking eco heaven, whilst I, and many others, may mock them, at least they’re taking pride in feeding themselves and loved ones, the right things, and ‘doing the right thing’ obviously makes them feel good-so how can I argue with that?! (Well obviously I could go into detail about how they manage to discount all this good they do by flying to the Bahamas once a year etc etc) But anyway, you know all those little daily routines that leave you feeling satisfied when they’re completed, or when you finished them in record time. Or maybe a one off coincidence that you dealt with remarkably well; they all leave you with a feeling of satisfaction and pride, not in a smug way, just in a way, that puts the bounce back into your walk.
So why is this at all important? Well, predictably I tend to see it from an environmental perspective, but use it how you will; the phrase when followed through, leaves people satisfied, it generates enthusiasm, energy and a good quality of work. The Environmentalist cum psychologist George Marshall is always telling his audiences NOT to go on about ‘polar bears’ and “SAVING THE PLANET”! Not on your nelly, in fact, avoid them at ALL costs if you want to ignite someones interest in climate change. Instead, he says, we should show the ‘non-believers’ how climate change will affect something that they really care about-normally family and friends, or their home, it could even be their favourite place to eat chips, all it need be is something they care enough about to try for. I say ‘try’ rather than ‘save’ because the responsibility for halting climate change does not lie at anyone persons feet alone; it should be a collective will to act. So, this where my new found phrase comes in: if we as a race, were to adopt the motto, or the general ethic of “take pride in everything you do”, then we might all be a lot happier, and feel the need to stand up for our favourite things in life.
On the subject of pride and its side effects-for me pride instills me with hope and motivation to act, not least a sense of purpose and belonging-because if you love it, it will love you back! All this may seem very airy fairy and inconsequential next to say-slavery and global poverty, but I beg to differ. What is it that liberated women? What is it that kept the abused Black plantation workers going? What is it that can start a war?
Pride has been a license to kill. Pride has been a license to rape. Pride has been a license to discriminate. Pride has been a reason to die; but it has also been a reason to live.
Pride need not be a smug, self satisfied trait, it could be a reason to live, a common work ethic, a satisfaction in what you made yourself, what you toiled to grow rather than what you could afford to buy and then throw away-a subconscious reason to live more simply because you can take pride in everything around you rather than nothing but what’s inside you.
The New Economics Foundation (NEF) wrote a report called ‘The Happy Planet Index’, which basically calculated the happiness of 178 countries in the world. It judges this by using an equation that contains figures for the average person from that country’s footprint, their life expectancy, and life satisfaction. Now, admittedly I am not sure how they measure life satisfaction except asking people on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being extremely satisfied with life) how they feel. Apparently this is internationally accurate, but I don’t know how they managed to do that for 178 countries! In summary their conclusions found were against the general trend of the Western World and its beliefs. (We have been taught by society that material acquisition is the way to happiness and equals status in our ‘modern and developed’ society.) If you read the report in detail you will see that what NEF discovered is testimony to what I have been saying: that those countries with all their basic needs covered have a higher level of satisfaction in life without masses of money. For example, the highest levels of satisfaction exist in the Caribbean, yet they have a far more basic lifestyle than we do here in the UK, with an ecological footprint that’s 5 times smaller than the UK’s. Not surprisingly, compared to the USA, which has a happiness index of 28.8, many of Africa’s more peaceful countries have an index twice as high as the USA!! Whilst their ecological footprint is 9 times smaller, proving you don’t need to have ‘things’ to be happy. If you would like to see the figures and facts behind the study you can download it here:
simple is good.
If you don’t have the money life does become more simple because your priorities are different. We in the 1st world need to reset our priorities so that humans, the earth and other species can live more harmoniously, why don’t we just start loving this world?!
Personally I get bursts of pride in odd places; it can be my brother being particularly generous, or hearing the verdict of the case of the Greenpeace 6 (that got me right there that did!), or sometimes the knowledge that Newton Faulkner is British. Whatever it is for you, you need to preserve it, further it, and make it something worth shouting about; not only is it good for it, it’s good for you too. People ask how I manage to have so much conviction at such a young age? All I can think to say is that I have put so much of my time into the things I feel strongly about, and that I love, that they make me who I am, and therefore what I believe, so how can I NOT argue for the things that shape me and the things that I try to shape if I take pride in them? And for me, that is life itself and therefore the world we live in.