the beauty in bragging


i’m not a bragger.

i grew up being taught that humility is a virtuous quality, that pride is unbecoming, and that nobody likes a bragger.

certainly, having someone flaunt their successes in your face when you’re having a crappy day is not a good feeling. the prattling off of accomplishments and possessions can be just yucky when it is done to puff up in superiority.

on a recent post, seth godin offers an explanation of bragging and feeling small in relation to art:

“To make us feel small in the right way is a function of art; men can only make us feel small in the wrong way.” E. M. Forster

The small feeling produced by art comes from dancing with our muse and allowing our inspiration to take us somewhere the resistance would rather avoid. We feel small in the face of magic and connection. Feeling small gives us the guts to create something bigger, bigger than ourselves, the art of human connection and the gift of generosity.

On the other hand, the critic who seeks to beef himself up at our expense diminishes no one but himself.

but, not all sharing of good things is done to make others feel small. sometimes, scooting modesty aside is a positive thing:
it can inspire others, letting them know what’s possible.
it can be the source of celebration-and who doesn’t like to celebrate?
it can simply be a part of the human experience to want to express joy.

many of us, it seems, need permission to share our greatness or the great things that happen to us. that’s why facebook has been somewhat controversial in this sense. how often do you open that page up and after seeing one incredible status after another, feel just a little bit like your life is lacking? it’s that whole age of comparison thing where such forums lend to feeding our insecurities about ourselves.

yet, if we step back a bit from that virtual realm, we can see that the reality of life is not all vacation trips, baby announcements, and going to see the BEST CONCERT EVER! we know this. life is a mixed bag. facebook is just a place where we can pick what we want out of that bag and do an adult version of show-n-tell.

focusing on what’s abundant and lovely and fun in our lives, can only call forth more of that.

here, let’s practice.
in this little post of this little blog (see, i’m doing it again), you are free to share what is great in your life. be anonymous if you want. it doesn’t matter. what will happen is this: the glow of one comment will ignite that of another and another, and before you know it, we’re all sharing in a gorgeous fire of goodness. (warning: when listing what’s not wrong in our lives, a feeling of gratitude has a tendency to ensue).

like i said, i am not a bragger. you can see it in my body language. i squirm when i get a compliment. i struggle to look someone in the eye when i am sharing something cool about my life. i often downplay via a slouched posture or shoulder shrugging. this does not come naturally to me. but, to counter my propensity to compare myself to others, counting my blessings is a practice i want to make, so here goes:

people often low ball my age by at least five years. i’ve several colorfully stamped passports in my possession. i use all my senses daily; i am healthy. my parents show love for each other, even after 37 years. my high school experience was not something i want to forget-it was amazing. my life is full of options. i am supported and loved by a wonderful man. i have friendships that have seen me when i had a bowl cut and wore bolo ties (thanks, friends). i have the best.sister.ever. my future is tingling with life.

is there anything there you resonate with? do we connect somehow in our experiences? does anything inspire you in any way?
don’t be shy.
go ahead, brag.

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  1. What a lovely post….

    Bragging, the term in itself, has negative connotations. I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with sharing personal and life’s successes. I suppose it’s important to be sensitive to your surroundings and empathetic towards those going through a difficult time but life operates in ebb and flows and each of us goes through many high and many lows!

    A big part of this is to practice gratitude, which I find a lot of people don’t do. I’ve always felt terribly greatful for all the things in my life, even when at my lowest points.

    I don’t remember what it’s like not to be able to take compliments, look people in the eye etc. These days it’s rathr easy for me but I do feel empathetic towards people who struggle more with this.

    I’m right where I need to be – I live in a great city (greatest to me) – I live a creative life (completely created by myself) – I am an eternal student – I am forever curious and passionate – I love life – I love my life – I feel supported and cared for – I love being independent and an individualist – I love blogging and all it’s brought me sofar – I’m greatful for having enough resources to eat well, live in a beautiful home I created, travel and spend my time the way I choose – I’m greatful for having been through long-term therapy and reaping the benefits now – I’m greatful to be healthy, doing sports and riding a Vespa. I’m greatful that I’m nearing 50 and understand that beauty comes from within (and not chase external youth) – I’m excited about the future. I’m aiming to keep living my purpose.

    Great post. Hope all is well with you xx

  2. Rebecca said:

    I have a wonderful husband who accepts me for who I am and whatever changes come our way. I have a 3 almost 4 year old daughter who has taught me how to play again, see the world as a child does, have tickle fights with, and there are no winners or losers.

  3. marcy said:

    One of my proudest accomplishments in life is having friends that have stuck around for a decade or two. Good natured friends that love me just the way I am ….i brag about my beautiful friend living boldly in Laos….love you mujer!!

  4. Danielle said:

    I feel loved, respected, and supported by my friends and family that I am proud to say, span the globe. These are the same people that impress me every day (including you, my beautiful friend).

  5. Tina! I love your perspective and your life looks rich and full. So happy for you and to have met you in this crazy blog-o-sphere.

  6. Thank you, Danielle. Can’t wait to see you again on some part of this globe.

  7. Monica said:

    Actually, I have the best.sister.ever! :)

    I live in gorgeous New Zealand, I am married to the most genuine soul, I make pretty jewelry, I have a gorgeous daughter whom I enjoy every minute, I have loving and supportive parents and the loveliest friends. <3

  8. Lisette Defoe said:

    Get the bragging on, girl! Loved it. It actually shows you have or are growing a healthy confidence too. Great post and I share the good feelings. I did my own share of bragging just now on my blog even though a bit different…on someone else, haha.

  9. I love this post. It is so freeing. I can relate to it in so many ways. I can’t take a compliment well, I downplay my strengths and I would much rather talk about other peoples lives than my own so people think I’m very private—which is in direct contrast to having a blog. Hmmm. I wonder what that means?

    You are amazing, Christine. This post made my day.

  10. thanks so much, Jamy. i kinda think you and i have lots in common. maybe one day we will meet over a cup of coffee (or tea) and brag our faces off. :)

  11. Hi Lisette… Healthy confidence is a great quality to aspire to…thanks for that. will go and visit your site now :)

  12. I’ve thought that too. We do have to meet as I’m sure our paths will cross someday—-and bragging our faces off would be a blast :)

  13. To me, bragging entails the intention of inflating one’s ego while sharing honestly our life experiences entails the intention of connection and community. There is a difference in motivation. The practice of recognition, gratitude, and sharing our path is a deep well. Thank you for writing.

  14. I agree that there is a difference. Would be great if “honestly sharing” with good intention had one word to it. For lack of it, here’s to trying to redefine the word “bragging”. Thank you for your input. This is an important perspective.

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