Humility is not really in fashion. I am not sure that it ever was.
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but rather thinking less about yourself. Humility helps soften the ego.
Humility is not the same as low self-esteem; low self-esteem is just as much a problem of the ego as arrogance. Neither is it false modesty.
Buddhism regards humility as a virtue. In some schools of Buddhist thought it is regarded as a precept.
In modern psychology humility can be said to have the following characteristics:
- accurate self-perception
- modest self-portrayal
- other-oriented relational stance.
Humility balanced with ego is vital for any good leader. Humility allows us to learn; it allows us to be creative; accept constructive criticism. It helps us to build and deepen our relationship with others. It keeps us more grounded. In my experience, the people who have the hardest time changing are those people who have great difficulty with humility. Unsurprisingly, many of these same people also have difficulty with patience.
In our society ego is king. Whilst humility is greatly misunderstood, it is seen as a type of weakness. However, the opposite is true; it is one of the most potent and effective attitudes to life. Studies show that it is a better predictor of success than IQ.
So you think this is all very well but how do I go about developing it?
Mindfulness and meditation: As always meditation and mindful awareness gives us the space to observe and the chance to move out of reacting unconsciously in autopilot and instead, respond according to our values.
Get out into nature: beach, forest, mountains, stars in the night sky. It is one of the best ways I know to get a sense of the vastness, the mystery and miracle of our own existence. It is difficult to feel full of your own importance when confronted with the billions of stars in the sky and the vastness of cosmic space; or the clear blue sky and the empty horizon and the endlessly crashing waves. It is also a wonderful feeling knowing that “I am part of all that, and all that is part of me”. The experience is paradoxical as I feel so incredibly small but at the same time a sense of connection with all I see also makes me feel immensely vast.
Gratitude: For me it is quite natural that when I experience/contemplate nature then I am filled with a sense of both wonder and gratitude. Gratitude also makes me very aware of all the connection and interdependence of all things. I see myself not as an island but a part of this wondrous constantly changing universe.
Compassion: Compassion enables us to step out of our egocentric universe and understand that my struggle, my story is neither more nor less important than struggles and the stories of others. It is one of many. It is not all about me.
I encourage you to develop an attitude of humility. Humility was entirely absent from the first half of my life, It was also the part of my life with the most suffering. As the years have passed, and I have practiced I have come to I realise that I know nothing or something close to nothing. Mankind knows such a tiny percentage of all that there is to know. Humility has helped me learn, develop patience, improve my relationships, be kinder, more compassionate. I still have a long way to go so much to learn. I am both happy and grateful to be on this path.