Narcissism; inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity, self-centredness, smugness, egocentrism.
A few years back I had a particularly successful year. Everything had gone way better than I could possibly have expected. I walked around for quite some time at the end of that year, feeling rather pleased with myself; smug. I was holding my head high, it was wonderful.
Then I caught sight of myself in a shop window, and the thought, puffed up, came to mind. I wasn't just holding my head high. My head had got so big that it was falling back, and my chest,the one I thought was sunk, all puffed up, was providing counterbalance. From such a position, one cannot help but look down ones nose at others. This brought back memories of standing at attention, chin in and up, chest out, etc and the encouragements to be proud of your group, your nation, your religion, your team, your gang, your martial art, your lineage.
For me, pride equates to a sufficiency, while vanity equates to an excess. An insufficiency would relate to a lack of fastidiousness and low self esteem.
It seems to me that an excess of pride can be a great cover for low self esteem, in that way that an excess of yin becomes yang. It also seems that an excess of pride is a way of separating us from our fellows.
So what about personal achievement? At which point do satisfaction and pride become vanity?
Think Icarus, think Babylon, think titanic, think the banks.
And these poets and poems:
P.B. Shelley's Ozymandias.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away
Robert Browning's Love amongst the ruins.
In one year they sent a million fighters forth
South and North,
And they built their gods a brazen pillar high
As the sky
Yet reserved a thousand chariots in full force--
Gold, of course.
O heart! oh blood that freezes, blood that burns!
For whole centuries of folly, noise and sin!
Shut them in,
With their triumphs and their glories and the rest!
Love is best.