“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it’s my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble.”
~ Helen Keller
I used to think I was important. And I struggled with believing that I was worthy. For each of us, the notion of humility as a virtue brings numerous images to mind. We tend to envision those rare individuals who humbly bear life’s struggles while downplaying their own strengths. Yet humility is also associated with people whose insecurities compel them to judge themselves unfavorably. The true definition of humility, however, does not correspond with precisely either of these images.
Humility is not passivity. Rather, it is an utter lack of importance. Individuals who embody the concept of humility appreciate that each human being occupies a unique place within the sphere of development. Though they can take pride in their own accomplishments, they also understand that the people they interact with each day are as valuable and have as much to offer the world as they themselves do.
As you consider your own humility, keep in mind that to be humble is to accept that while there will always be people more and less advanced than yourself, each individual can provide you with insights that further your own personal growth. Recognizing this is a matter of opening yourself to the fact that not only do others think differently than you, but their life experiences have shaped them in a very different way than yours have shaped you.
This means that while you may have a greater understanding is some areas, others will always be able to teach you something. When you cultivate a genuine yearning to know what skills and talents those you encounter have been blessed with, you cannot help but learn humility. You instinctively understand that emotions like envy breed resistance that prevents you from growing, and that being flexible in your interactions with others will help you connect with unexpected mentors.
Think about when you talk to your older relatives. It can be time-consuming, repetitive, and at times, underwhelming. But it is important to acknowledge that they often spent their lives contributing to raising you (whether directly or indirectly). When you practice humility, you want to become as accomplished and evolved as you can possibly be, yet you are willing to submit to the expertise of others to do so. You understand the scope of your attitudes yet you choose to dismiss arrogance from your attitude, and you can distinguish the value you possess as an individual while still acting in the interests of others.
Humility, simply put, is a form of balance in which you can celebrate your own worth while believing that every other person is just as worthy as you.
If you’re looking for ways in which to be more humble in your life, consider these tips:
- As a human being you need to be aware of your faults and misgivings. You need to know that you are not unsurpassed. It’s okay to not be perfect and accept your weaknesses. A better self-awareness will help you be more humble in life.
- Learn to say “I don’t know.” It’s hard, for whatever reason, to answer someone “I don’t know.” Probably because all of the world’s information is at our fingertips, not knowing something seems like an excuse or not a legitimate answer. Life’s full of questions we simply don’t have answers to. Say “I don’t know,” listen, then learn.
- Serve someone. We instinctively resist serving because we believe there is a direct relationship between being served and being important. Bring someone a cup of coffee, run an errand for a friend, give away some money.
Most of us still have some learning and practicing to do. Yes/no?