I have met truly humble people. They are wonderful and yet so rare.
I have a friend that is an incredible woman. Everyone who meets her, loves her. She is bright, kind, compassionate and energetic. She is also beautiful and graceful. When she meets someone she always asks them interested questions, and responds supportively to their answers. She compliments others, promotes those with less and always cheers for others. This friend does not take up conversational space talking about how great she is. If someone compliments her she quietly says thank you and changes the subject. I have another friend, a male, who is rapidly and efficiently moving up the professional ladder. He is quick to say that he has others to thank for this success, quick to point out that he is lucky to be learning from his bosses and mentors. He is quick to compliment others and give others credit. He asks permission to share his opinion, he works extremely hard but never points it out, and he always gives others the recognition when he is successful. He talks about wanting to be a kind person and treats others with respect. These two friends are very humble. They also are extremely highly regarded and well loved, without ever demanding any regard or boasting or patronizing others.
My father was a very humble person. He never once, in my entire life, paid himself a compliment. Not one. He said very few words, but when he spoke, people listened. Everyone paid him a great deal of respect and it did not make him pompous or lofty. I have heard the stories of how his parents told him that no one wanted him, that if they had not adopted him, no one at all would have wanted him. His parents were less than kind and they did not miss an opportunity to instill in him that he was nothing worth anything. Instead of allowing that to make him act grandiose and compensate for his insecurities, he tried to be the most respectful and humble person that he could be. The mouthiest and most defiant people were quieted by his humbleness. Egocentric and selfish people looked to him for advisement. Narcissistic people listened to him because he spoke humble and respectful truth. I wish he had not died when I was so young. I believe I would be more humble today had he remained living. He had a way of reminding people with intelligent and important yet succinct comments, that they were no better than anyone else. I think he may have reminded me on several occasions in my early adulthood to be more humble.
I believe the more humble a person is the more real…but it is hard work to be humble. We all have insecurities, we all have flaws, and in being humble we must admit these challenges without boasting or priding or judging. Humility is vulnerable; it entails us being honest about our shortcomings. It involves us admitting to ourselves that other people are just as worthy, important and good as we are.
In order to gain humility we must remember that we can always learn more and we never know enough. We may be an expert in one small, specific element of living or working. Humility reminds us that our expertise is minuscule and our need for knowledge is gigantic.
Humility is a strong self-regard where we know that we are good, whether others give us that positive feedback or not. (A cautionary note: high self-regard that is not warranted is not humility. When we are not good people, thinking that we actually are is egocentric and narcissistic). But silent high self-regard when you really are actually wonderful, but not saying it, now that is humility.
Humbleness is increased when we remember the greater good, the community’s need and not just our own. We are a part of a bigger system and when we are humbled we remember that many, many people have needs, not just us individually.
Understanding that the gifts you have been given are not guaranteed reminds us to be humble. Loss, death, and tragedies occur every day. Remembering that the miracles and enjoyment you have been granted, and possibly earned, can be taken away in a second, humbles us.
Reminding ourselves that there are many people in this world that do not have enough forces us to be humble. There are many people who need our help and compassion. There are many children that do not have enough food. There are many lives that are filled with pain and misery. Just the simple fact that our life is comfortable should be enough to humble us in comparison to these situations our fellow people are living in.
Humility is knowing that others know more, that we are sometimes ill-equipped, that we need help, that we are no better than others. It is hard to be humble, few people can tolerate the experience of not knowing, of admitting flaws, of giving the recognition to others. Being humble makes some of us feel vulnerable and weak. Being humble makes some of us feel less than others and in need of fixing something. Being humble makes some of us feel without power and therefore out of control or anxious. But achieving humility is a wonderful gift of health and wellness that we can give to ourselves and our world. Being humble will draw others closer to you. Being humble will make people want to be like you. Being humble will make others talk incessantly well of you. Being humble will make you happy, healthy and well.