Today I want to discuss humility: what it is, why it’s essential, and how to develop it in your life.
What is humility?
Humility is a modest view of oneself that is akin to self-forgetfulness. Modesty is not the absence of understanding one’s value or self-esteem. For example, you’re not humble if you think your life has no value when compared to another’s – this is low self-esteem, not humility.
Furthermore, modesty is gratitude and awareness instead of self-obsession. For example, people may comment on John Doe’s accomplishments, and he should be proud of the work he has done. However, he is humble enough to acknowledge how others have supported him. In this example, John doesn’t deny what he’s accomplished. He simply admits he did not reach his goals alone. This recognition is modesty.
Why is humility necessary?
The main benefit of humility is how it helps us acknowledge reality. To be humble is to recognize our actions and abilities are no greater or lesser than they are. To believe your efforts are less than what they are is low self-esteem. Conversely, to think your talents are more significant than what they are is arrogance.
What Are The Pitfalls of Arrogance?
The opposite of humility is arrogance. Arrogant people are self-assured and maintain they can do no wrong. This arrogance destroys the potential for personal growth because there are always areas to improve.
If I believe my drawing skills are perfect, I will stop practicing, and my talent will stagnate.
Arrogance also destroys our loyalty. To be faithful, we have to acknowledge and sincerely appreciate the roles others play in our successful growth in virtue. When we fail to give credit where credit is due, we show how little we value the other person, the actions they’ve invested in us, and the virtue of loyalty.
In the example above, John Doe can brag about how hard he worked to achieve his goals. However, if he doesn’t identify how his wife supported him emotionally and financially, then he’s being arrogant and lacking loyalty. He’s not practicing self-forgetfulness – he’s only acknowledging and amplifying his contributions to his success. This behavior is unhealthy and will ensure fewer and fewer people will want to assist John Doe in the future.
Lastly, when we lack humility, we fail to see the people we can help or how people can help us. Remember, “humble people prefer windows, not mirrors.” When individuals are arrogant, we focus too much on ourselves in a way that undermines success. For example, we’ll refuse to listen to legitimate criticism that will improve our characters because we’re too fixated on how right we are.
Humility Applies To The Virtuous
Individualism is about developing one’s sovereignty. However, the development of the self requires honest interaction with the virtuous external world.
An individual radically focused on themselves cannot grow or develop. Everyone is different, and it’s the very height of arrogance to believe we have the solution for everyone, at all times, for all purposes. This logic is what collectivists fail to understand. Weak individuals think they’re right at all times, which is why they love having power over others. However, as individualists, you must remember you do not have all the answers, and we should be humble in the face of virtue.
Therefore, it is not arrogance to disregard the opinion of dishonest people. Conversely, if a virtuous man offers advice, then heed it while utilizing that advice to develop your character further. You should be humble enough to listen to what is true and adjust your behavior towards what is authentic and virtuous.
How can you practice humility in your daily life?
1. Develop rational pride
Humility is not the absence of ego because rational pride is about understanding your inherent worth so you can better protect yourself from predators. From the pickup artists to the abusive spouse, predators utilize insults to undermine their victims. However, when you realize your inherent value, you can better protect yourself from manipulators.
Furthermore, when we recognize our worth, we can also understand the value others bring our lives.
For example, John Doe knows the efforts he took to accomplish his goals. Because he understands his efforts, he also appreciates the energy others have invested in him. If John Doe did not recognize the significance of his efforts, then he could easily disregard or overinflate what others have done for him.
Develop rational pride by acknowledging the worth of your work and the energy you’ve expended. This way, you will appreciate what others have done to help you be the best version of yourself.
2. Develop a sense of duty
Weak individuals believe meeting their essential obligations is a cause of immense celebration.
For example, people pat themselves on the back for taking care of their children when such a “feat” is the bare minimum. However, raising remarkable children who have a significantly positive impact on the world is infinitely more commendable.
Don’t do a dance when you do well at work. Don’t boast when you make it to class on time. Discern that these are expectations you need to meet regardless. By understanding you’ve reached the bare minimum, you can focus on pursuing more meaningful goals. The pursuit of significant goals will help humble you and reduce your arrogance.
3, Don’t one-up people
If someone is expressing their success or sharing a story, don’t one-up them. This practice is annoying but also shows insecurity and arrogance.
Humility develops a sense of personal security, so you never have to brag to other people. When someone tells you a remarkable story, simply listen and ask questions. Don’t rudely follow up their account with a better version of your own.
4. Develop your honesty
However, arrogance blinds us to the need of self-improvement or when we’ve made a mistake. When we’re conceited and refuse to admit wrongdoing, we’ll craft a narrative as to why we’re right instead of fixing the error.
The ability to say “I apologize, I was wrong, let me fix this,” will help in the development of modesty.
5. Practice gratitude
Humble individuals are thankful. Very few people make it on their own, and they are grateful for the help that others have given them. Conversely, arrogant people are self-centered. Furthermore, weak individuals fail to value others because they are so entitled.
However, you should be grateful for the life that you have and the virtuous people within it. Such gratitude will prevent your ego from spreading and devouring your efforts to become an individual.
- Who are you loyal to? How do these people, ideas, and groups support you and keep you going?
- What are you grateful for? What are the tools (e.g., smartphones) that help you accomplish your goals? How difficult would your life be if you didn’t have those tools?
- Of the list provided above, what are some aspects of humility that you struggle with? How do you plan on improving your modesty in the future?
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume. *Image credit to Wikipedia Commons and Unsplash.