Here’s David Brooks:
one could distinguish between actions that are done expressly to raise self-esteem (like buying a fancy car) and events that are done for other reasons that obliquely raise self-esteem (like writing a great symphony).
Along these lines, Crocker described the tension between self-transcendence and self-affirmation. Self-affirmation is about being proud and powerful and in control. Self-transcendence is about being engaged in activities in which the self is melded into a task or a relationship. According to various studies Crocker cited, people who have experienced self-transcendence are more open to evidence that counters their own views, and feel more connected to others.