Modesty; humility; generosity: they are worthy virtues.
They are what I aspired to when I started down my path of self-improvement. I picture a good-natured soul in a bar in France or England or, fuck it, Thailand. He is dressed well but not conspicuously. Self-effacing, retiring, and with a cloud of insouciance (noun 1. casual lack of concern; indifference) he is the one that draws attention. Precisely because of his modesty. He holds a conversation, drink in one hand, a joke and then a friendly clasp of someone’s shoulder with the other. Then he asks a question and retreats back into himself. He doesn’t talk a lot but when he does, it’s captivating.
That’s my aspiration.
And so I read. I picked up meditation and writing and drawing. I started researching things worth researching. I learned skills worth learning — a far cry from the week attempted to learn how to juggle and eventually gave up on — like rock climbing and how to pitch a tent.
And when you read stoic philosophy and meditate and learn and write and camp and live a lifestyle you percieve as fucking awesome compared to others, some arrogance will set in. When you talk to others in a night out, there’s a subtle but all-encompassing, “I’m better than you.”
You try not to think it. You tell yourself to be humble, generous, <insert noble virtue here.>
But the arrogance pervades.
Pretentiousness, arrogance, and self-involvement are not noble virtues: they are unattractive, petty, and thoroughly uninviting.
But those feelings are not a problem to be solved. They are, as I said, feelings. They are to be felt. Understood, and recognized as such. Do not try to change them — telling yourself to, “Stop being arrogant,” is simply another form of the arrogance. It is chuckling to yourself, “Ha ha! I have beaten the arrogance! I am so great.”
Do not try to beat it. Just be aware of it whenever these feelings rear their ugly heads. Mindfulness is the only approach. And eventually, you will not have to proclaim that arrogance, selfishness, and self-involvement have been bested by modesty and humility. It will simply be that way.