[This piece is my translation of an essay by the prolific Brazilian writer and spiritual warrior, Paulo Coelho. It’s one of the most balanced and honest statements about bragging that I’ve encountered.]
Regarding your campfire stories, by Paulo Coelho
A warrior of the light shares his world with those he loves, and animates them to do what they most enjoy.
At that moment the adversary appears with two tablets in hand. One of the tablets says: “Think more about yourself. Conserve your blessings for yourself or you’ll end up losing everything.”
On the other tablet is written: “Who are you to think you can help?”
A warrior knows that he has faults, but he also knows that he can’t grow alone, can’t just distance himself from his companions. Even knowing that the adversary is partly right, the warrior doesn’t give too much importance to the tablets, and keeps spreading enthusiasm to his surroundings.
Sit down with your companions around the bonfire and let everyone talk about his conquests. Then make a special welcome to the strangers so that they can sit together as part of your whole group. Being witnessed in this way, everyone can be proud of his life and of his own successful battles.
The warrior knows how important it is to share his experience with others; he speaks with enthusiasm about the path; he talks about how he resisted giving into a certain temptation, and how he found a solution in a difficult moment. But when you speak about your inner adventures, you should carefully review any words of excessive passion or romanticism.
Sometimes it’s permitted to exaggerate a little, knowing that your predecessors also exaggerated some. But when you find yourself acting boastful, try not to confuse your genuine pride with mere vanity, and resist believing your own exaggerations.
A warrior of the light inspires confidence. He makes mistakes whenever he exaggerates his stories, even a little, and ends up making himself more important than he really is. As a warrior of the light, he is ultimately prohibited from lying.
So when you sit down at the fire and talk with your companions, know that your words permeate into the memory of the Universe and are a testimony of what you are thinking.
The warrior might reflect: “Why am I talking so much when much of the time I’m not able to do what I say.”
This is an important reflection.
The heart responds: “If you publicly defend your ideas, you will have to act on them if you want to live in accordance with them.”
Precisely because he considers what he says, the warrior succeeds in transforming himself into what he says.