People that are happy and content with their lives do not feel the need to tear down other people’s achievements – but instead give support, encouragement and praise.
I just read a friend’s very intelligent and elegant response to a rather mean-spirited criticism. I admire my friend’s unshaken poise and serenity in his counter arguments. I’m all for the dogma that criticism is needed – how else can we learn and grow. But that’s constructive criticism, not destructive criticism – which tells you more about the inner psychology of the owner of such criticism, rather than the work that’s being criticised. Arthur Schopenhauer said it best, “vulgar people take huge delight in the faults and follies of great men”.
Dale Carnegie wrote about how no one kicks a dead dog and that “unjust criticism is often a disguised compliment. The more important a dog is, the more satisfaction people get in kicking him”.
“So when you are kicked and criticised, remember that it is often done because it gives the kicker a feeling of importance. It often means that you are accomplishing something and are worthy of attention. Many people get a sense of savage satisfaction out of denouncing those who are better educated than they are, or more successful.” (Dale Carnegie)
Eleanor Roosevelt told Dale Carnegie, “the only way we can avoid all criticism is to be like a Dresden-china figure and stay on a shelf. Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticised, anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t” (Dale Carnegie).
Dale Carnegie highlights a story of Admiral Peary who “…startled and thrilled the world by reaching the North Pole with dog sleds in 1909 – a goal that brave men for centuries had suffered and starved and died to attain. Peary himself almost died from cold and starvation; and eight of his toes were frozen so hard they had to be cut off. He was so overwhelmed with disasters that he feared he would go insane. His superior naval officers in Washington were burned up because Peary was getting so much publicity and acclaim. So they accused him of collecting money for scientific expeditions and then “lying around and loafing in the Arctic”. And they probably believed it, because it is almost impossible not to believe what you want to believe. Their determination to humiliate and block Peary was so violent that only a direct order from President McKinley enabled Peary to continue his career in the Arctic.” (Dale Carnegie).
So if someone like Admiral Peary who achieved something amazing and praise worthy can still be criticised, perhaps his story can give us comfort the next time we’re attacked by unjust criticism. As long as in your heart you know you did the right thing or you believe in what you did, unjust criticism should be considered and analysed whether it truly has any merit, but not be given permission to belittle what you are trying to achieve.
Above quotes taken from: How to stop worrying and start living, by Dale Carnegie.