On Humility

Humility is an amazing quality. Since ancient times, it’s been a quality that has attracted our attention. In fact, most of the world’s religions value humility above all virtues. Confucius once said humility “is a solid foundation of all virtues.” Living a life of humility himself, Jesus said “the meek would one day inherit the earth.” As valued as this quality is, why then does humility seem so unattainable?

By definition, humility embodies modest and unpretentious behavior. Requiring an absence of pride, it means not overestimating your position in society. It’s no wonder humility seems so difficult for most of us to acquire in today’s world. All one has to do is turn on the news, open a newspaper, or connect to the Internet to realize there are many brilliant thinkers among successful corporations who take great pride in their gifts and talents. What many do not realize though is that St. Therese de Lisieux was not only very gifted, but humble too as shown in her writings and witnessed by her contemporaries. A very powerful combination! In her autobiography, “Story of a Soul”, she writes:

“I can say with truth that by God’s grace I am no more attached to the gifts of the intellect than to material things. If it happens that a thought of mine should please my Sisters, I find it quite easy to let them regard it as their own. My thoughts belong to the Holy Ghost. They are not mine. St. Paul assures us that without the Spirit of Love, we cannot call God our Father. And besides, though far from depreciating those beautiful thoughts which bring us nearer to God, I have long been of opinion that we must be careful not to overestimate their worth. The highest inspirations are of no value without good works. It is true that others may derive much profit there from, if they are duly grateful to our Lord for allowing them to share in the abundance of one of His privileged souls; but should this privileged soul take pride in spiritual wealth, and imitate the Pharisee, she becomes like a hostess dying of starvation at a well-spread table, while her guests enjoy the richest fare, and perhaps case envious glances at the possessor of so many treasures.”

While not easy, humility can be habit-forming. Just ask Elizabeth Harrell. In her article, “Humility: How Can You Have It?” on LifeScript.com, Ms. Harrell says it starts with small steps; specifically, making certain behaviors a routine. She suggests the following:

1. It’s in What You Say. When speaking with other people, address their lives and thoughts before your own.
2. It’s in How You Treat Others. Treat each person as someone of value regardless of their position in society, profession, age, or economic status.
3. It’s in How You Treat Yourself. Humility grows when you don’t give into your own whims. Respecting yourself involves refraining from unhealthy and superficial behavior.
4. It’s in How You Perceive Things. Humility requires a change in mindset as our perceptions are based on what we think. People who practice humility understand the value of not relying on previously-developed attitudes.
5. It’s in How You Live Your Life. Living a life with a sincere spirit of humility can result in many positive rewards, including:Humble people often handle challenging situations with a greater sense of peace as they respond rather than react to life’s challenges.

When you serve others, you focus less on your own problems and weaknesses.  Humility is a great networking tool. As you demonstrate humility, you will attract others. They will be more comfortable around you and seek your wisdom. Wisdom is often equated with humility. Humble people are often seen as wiser because they listen well and think before they speak, first considering the value of their words. Humility also leads others to see you as a trustworthy, realizing your main goals are not self-motivated. A combination of leadership and humility creates loyalty. Humble leaders understand they are nothing without those working with them. Rather than striving to make themselves look successful, they revel in the success of others.

6. It’s in Whether You See the Roadblocks Ahead. When striving towards humility, one should also be aware of the roadblocks. Specifically, some behaviors and personal qualities impede a person’s ability to be humble. Once the following behaviors and traits are eliminated, humility has room to grow.

  • Pride. Pride prevents a person from growing in a spirit of humility. It focuses on self rather than others.
  • Insecurity. Insecurity creates an unhealthy self-centeredness. When lacking self-confidence, too much time is spend examining one self rather than others.
  • Over-confidence. Derived from the same self-centeredness as insecurity, over-confidence is also unhealthy as this quality leads a person in the opposite direction.
  • Selfishness. Humility will always be a distant dream as long as you strive to meet your own needs and desires before the concerns of others.

Humility is found in wisdom and true wisdom is found in listening to and serving others. It requires you to surrender your pride and to change in mindset away from self-centeredness. In a world where self-indulgence and material wealth are encouraged, acquiring humility is often challenging. Yet, the rewards outweigh the sacrifices. You not only feel a great sense of peace, but you also experience new found wisdom and healthier relationships too!

Remember … touch a life today “The Little Way” by following the lead and need of others.  Also, if you ever thought to yourself, “I wish my customers, knew…”, then be sure to visit White Light Communications at http://www.tothewhitelight.com.

~ Theresa

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