There's a movie called The Huggabunch that I remember watching when I was a little girl, and recently a friend of mine reminded me of it. I watched a short segment from it on YouTube, and it was just as creepy as I remembered it being. The main character at one point meets a witch type woman who stays forever young and "beautiful" by eating some sort of peach that she keeps under lock and key. The queen (witch) says to the young girl, "You are rather pleasant looking yourself. ... Say thank you, child." and the little girl responds by saying, "My mother told me not to say thank you when people tell me I have a pretty face. You're just born with it, and it's all luck." (If you want to watch this clip of the delightful movie yourself, click here.)
Thomas S. Monson in last month's Ensign wrote an article called, "Canaries with Grey on Their Wings." In it he emphasizes again the importance of reaching our full potential. This is a recurring theme in our church, we hear about it often. He says, "To live greatly, we must develop the capacity to face trouble with courage, disappointment with cheerfulness, and triumph with humility." I think that I can understand how to face trouble with courage - I may not yet be perfectly able to do so, but I understand it in theory. I can see how meeting disappointment with cheerfulness will work out, and that is often what I try to do already. The one that really stumps me however, is dealing with triumph with humility. So, I've been thinking a lot about it. Reaching our potential, being all we can be, developing our talents and our unique gifts and then at the end of the day being humble about it all. I have thought about this for so long that I think I am going to have to break this post into segments. So, bear with me as I explore, and please share any thoughts that you have along the way.
The Main Question: How do we develop talents, strive to reach our full potential and refrain from becoming prideful?
My first thoughts are along the lines of the Huggabunch kid's mom's advice. There is a big difference between things that happen to us just by chance, or luck, or random genetic encoding, and the things that we work hard to earn and become. We should never become prideful, obviously, but it seems to me especially silly to become prideful about any unearned advantages we have in life, because what's the point in it? We had nothing to do with having them. (Am I being clear?) That being said, I think it's strange that the mom advised the little girl to never even say thank you. It seems to me that to say nothing at all is rude, whereas a polite and sincere "thank you" does no harm, as long as you remember not to become prideful about something that you had no control over (a pretty face).
So, how should we respond when someone compliments us on, say, having a pretty face? Do you say "thank you"? Do you ignore the person, as the little girl did at the advice of her mother?* Do you have some other response? How do you keep pride in check on receiving compliments like these?
Next I will be discussing compliments in general, and their merits. The time after that I will be exploring how to distinguish our gifts and talents that we should pursue developing. And I will wrap it all up by revealing the reasons I am terrified of my own potential. Yeah, you'll want to tune in for that one, for sure.
*The mother was not present at the time of this interaction, and I wonder if she would have chastised her child for her response, and that there was something the mother would have had the little girl say. We'll never know.