|Examine Your Life
Question 51: What’s the difference
between self-esteem and haughtiness?
The main difference hinges on our ability to show and express deep
gratitude. A person with self-esteem is grateful for everything he has;
a haughty person takes it all for granted.
The person with self-esteem prizes the talents and abilities the
heavens grant him. He takes no credit for his genius. Rather, he looks
at it as a special gift, a privilege he needs to pay for. He knows that
his ability places an important responsibility on his shoulders, and he
must justify the trust the heavens invest in him. So, he works hard,
learns and thinks hard to clarify his duty, his special task in this
world. This clarity in turn, leads him (a) to identify his areas of
strength, (b) plan out his life-path, and (c) perform with confidence
and authority. Thus, with gratitude, his life soars upwards in the best
The haughty person, on the other hand, assumes that his talents and
strengths are no more than what the world owes him, and he may use or
squander them as he pleases. At the same time he feels that since he is
superior to others, all must bow down to him, showing him only
admiration and love. So he constantly looks and waits for recognition
and applause – recognition and applause that never come. This
leads him to suffering and disappointment.
Moreover, since he believes he is higher than others, he must endure
loneliness. He lives in the beyond - beyond the reality of Hashem and
his fellowman - and this pushes him along a lonely path. Ultimately
then, his lack of gratitude isolates him from the beauty and joy of
There is a little haughtiness in each of us. To uproot this, we must
cultivate gratitude, looking carefully to praise and thank our Creator
for all we have. At the same time, we must express appreciation and
love to the people who make up our lives. Only when true thanks well up
from the depths and meditations of our heart, may we learn to embrace
our lives fully and fly them to the highest of heavens.
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