Previously published on BecomingMinimalist.com.
“We come nearest to the great when we are great in humility.”– Rabindranath Tagore
Humility is a funny thing. In fact, my grandfather used to tell us that he won a medal for his humility, but it was taken away when he began to wear it.
Humility is the act of being modest, reverential, even politely submissive. It is the opposite of aggression, arrogance, pride, and vanity. And on the surface, it appears to empty its holder of all power.
But on the contrary, it grants enormous power to its owner.
Humility offers its owner complete freedom from the desire to impress, be right, or get ahead. Frustrations and losses have less impact on a humble ego and a humble person confidently receives opportunity to grow, improve, and reject society‘s labels. A humble life results in contentment, patience, forgiveness, and compassion.
- Humility understands individual limitations. Humans, by definition, are finite and thus, limited in our understanding. Our talents are different, our minds are different, and our experiences vary from one another. Individually, we comprehend only a small, unique fraction of the world. But together, we arrive at a far-grander view of the Universe. Humble people realize their understanding is limited and embrace it. As a result, they wisely look for answers outside of themselves.
- Humility appreciates others. All human life carries inherent value. Our souls hold no more value or importance than the person sitting next to us, no matter where we may be sitting. A humble person appreciates the fact that the world does not revolve around him or her. And accepts their position as just a tiny piece in the giant puzzle.
- Humility respects others and their opinions. Just because an opinion is different doesn’t mean it is wrong. Please don’t misunderstand me, the opposing opinion may be wrong (there are countless either/or arguments where both sides can’t be right). I’m only saying that it is not wrong just because it is different… and that is a far better place to begin the dialogue.
- Humility listens more. And speaks less. It spends more time understanding… and less time being understood.
- Humility withholds judgments over intentions as much as possible. The quickest way to win an argument in your mind is to make sweeping judgements concerning the intentions of others. It is the easiest way to discount any valid, opposing argument. It is also one of the most damaging. In fact, in my opinion, it is one of the primary reasons that humility has completely vanished from our political discourse.
- Humility helps others and promotes others. Joy is not found in being right and arriving at the top. Instead, joy is found in helping others grow and succeed. Humility realizes that in those cases, both win.
Humility always begins in our heart. As a result, it offers significant control over attitude, outlook, and actions. It has nothing to prove, but everything to offer.
Joshua Becker and his wife are the creators of BecomingMinimalist.com which chronicles their lives as they intentionally shift into a new way of living and being in the world. Their story has been seen on the CBS Evening News, NPR, the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal and countless media interviews around the world. Their books have sold in the tens of thousands. Learn more about their journey towards a rational approach to minimalism, the joys and struggles, and the lessons they’ve learned by visiting BecomingMinmalist.com or by following them on Twitter.