“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” — Matthew 23:12
One of the most important characteristics of any human being is humility. Yet, most of us fail to show much humility in life. In fact, we’re quite the opposite. We brag and we boast. We take pictures and we do things all so that we can display a public persona to the world. However, what most people don’t realize is that many can see right through this facade.
The truth is that we could all endeavor to show more humility in life. We can all toil to be more transparent, and display that fragile inner self, the one that we hide so desperately in fear of it being shattered into a million little pieces, like a giant mirror crashing and cascading violently to the floor.
I know that I’ve had my own fair share of bouts with an utter lack of humility. If I wasn’t boasting, I was humble-bragging, a term used to mask the personal cheerleading by not making it so obvious — the close up picture of a luxury emblem, the steering wheel of the car we’re driving in, or something even more outlandish.
Why did I do it? Why did I feel the need and the necessity to brag and boast? Why couldn’t I just show more humility? When I look back on it today, I realize that I was self-centered and egotistical, a man with an incredibly low self-esteem. Yes, I’ll admit it. But reflecting on that today, I couldn’t ever imagine going back there. I couldn’t imagine being that person again.
In a series of events that took me from a high-flier to a bottom-feeder, I suffered a bout of serious regret. That happens when you fail. You look back and realize what a jerk you were, not only to those around you, but also to those closest to you — the ones you cared so deeply about.
But the point of all this, and the reason why I’m even expressing these words, is to convey the importance of humility. We’ve all had brush-ins with the “talkers,” so to speak. We’ve all experienced the showiness of those that enjoy rubbing it in to the less fortunate, displaying their wealth, or simply just fabricating the truth. No one likes it, no matter what anyone says.
Still, what’s worse than the person that is the complete antithesis of humility, who ends up regretting their boastful ways, is a person who fails to see this flaw. That’s the person that I feel sorry for. That’s the person who’s so defiantly shallow and narrow-minded that they’re unable to see the err of their ways.
What Is Humility?
Humility is the opposite of hubris. Wikipedia describes it as the act of being humble. It involves suppressing one’s innermost desire to shine a spotlight on their lives or the good deeds that they’re doing. It involves taking a mental step back and having the emotional fortitude and spiritual capacity to not showcase, brag or boast.
However, much of the world is far from humble. They leverage our increasingly-connected society to display their wealth. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with having or making money, there is something wrong with trying to rub it in others’ faces, especially those that are struggling even to make ends meet.
The problem is, we have no idea what’s really going on with others. We have no idea of the struggles that they’re facing, or the difficulties that they’re attempting to overcome. Sure, some of our peers are doing well for themselves. They’ve endured failure and succeeding to some degree. But many are skating on thin ice in life.
In this world, there is immense struggle. People are suffering unimaginable atrocities in countries where government either doesn’t exist, doesn’t care, or is singlehandedly responsible for them. People are starving, not just in third-world countries, but here, just moments from our homes. They have no roofs over their heads, money in their accounts, or hope for the future.
I say this to cast a shadow on grandstanding. I say this to help instill some sympathy, even when empathy cannot exist. Even if you haven’t gone through rough times in your life, and even if you’ve always had a safety net there to catch you during your falls from grace, it only takes a little bit of effort to show more humility in life.
But this isn’t just some good characteristic that we know we should exhibit; it’s about having the true capacity for humility. In fact, studies have linked the trait of humility to better job performance. Numerous other studies have linked the trait of humility with generosity. People who are humble are better perceived and are known to be less deceptive in their social interactions as well.
8 Reasons to Show More Humility
Clearly, it’s important to be humble. We can all do our part to show more humility in life, even if we think we might lack the capacity to do so. However, especially after experiencing the monumental defeats that come along with failure, the importance for humility becomes far more apparent.
If you haven’t suffered the cataclysmic effects of failure, then I applaud you. But only if you’ve taken great risks in life. You see, true success is founded on failure, and even the most successful people in the world have failed more times than the rest of us. In fact, failure is the surest pathway to success, but also to humility.
People who fail are more humble, plain and simple. They’ve tasted the sweet victories of success, but have also suffered the gut-wrenching pains of failure. Failure shatters the ego and allows us to become more humble. It peels away at the layers of excess that we build up around how we want our lives to be perceived, and helps to shine a transparent light on who we really are.
Humility also paves the way for kindness. People that are more humble are more likely to give to others that are in need. They can empathize better, not just sympathize, with the plight of others. And while there are plenty reasons why we should show more humility in life, the following 8 are the most important.
#1 — You become more relatable and “real”
Humility paves the way for transparency, making them instantly more relatable. They speak about things like failure and setbacks. You relate to the realness of their prose and just how raw and rare this trait is in the world today. While humble people don’t do it to win friends, it’s a natural step in the progression of a person steeped in humility.
While there’s nothing wrong with succeeding and earning money in life, there is something wrong with rubbing it in the face of others. What’s worse are those who merely pretend to succeed, and still brag about it, adding a layer of falsity to help further obscure others from the truth.
I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with faking it until you make it, so to speak. But there’s an extent to where the over-confidence simply becomes a falsity of everyday truths and makes that person look bad in the eyes of others. By showing more humility, you get less eye-rolling and more true connection with others. And who knows what else that could lead to.
#2 — You begin to earn people’s trust
By showing more humility and being humble down to the very core, you earn people’s trust. It doesn’t happen overnight or over the course of months; it happens over years of steadfast humility. When you’re not trying to put a lavish life on display, and you’re generally more sensitive to the plight of others, some incredible things begin to happen.
Part of this goes against the grain of our society. We’re so bombarded by imagery everywhere we turn of the lives of the rich and famous that we forget just what some of those people had to endure to get to where they are today. Unfortunately, we don’t see a journey laced with failures and lesson-learning; we see the end product of success.
Social media has added to this problem. It’s far easier to convey just the opposite of humility in real-time to all your friends or followers. But there’s something about this behavior that begets the antithesis of trust. In fact, it brings on pure malice from others who are simply struggling to make ends meet.
#3 — You stop living a shallow existence
Having traveled much of the world, I’ve truly experienced both sides of the coin when it comes to how the wealthy and the extremely poor live. There’s something that happens to you when you travel like that. There’s a clear mental and emotional transformation that occurs. When you see how little people have to live on in other parts of the world, but are still so clearly happy, it changes you.
These are humble and good-natured people. They’re people that would open the door for you and give you a meal, even when they barely have two pennies to scratch together themselves. They don’t live a shallow existence. There’s a deep sense of self and giving, along with a transparency that doesn’t exist in those that are simply trying to keep up with the Joneses.
While there’s nothing wrong with owning nice things, there’s something wrong with it when the decision to do so is to ensure that others think you’re doing better than you are in life. While we could all do our part to show more humility in life, when we go to extremes to make people believe we’re succeeding when we really aren’t, we need to work to curb our attitudes and not live such a shallow existence.
#4 — You begin to focus on adding value to the world
Humble people are interested in adding value to the world. They look beyond their immediate needs and consider the needs of others. They ask themselves how they can bring true value to the world and to the lives of others. This isn’t about donating or contributing; this is about giving more to others than they expect in return from you no matter what you’re doing.
Those that show humility in the workplace concentrate on adding true value to the lives of their customers while those that show humility in their personal relationships or networks look to the same on a more intimate level. They make recommendations and try to help in anyway they can, something most boastful individuals don’t attempt to do.
When all you care about is showing off, you’re not focused on adding value. In fact, you’re doing just the opposite in most cases — you’re looking for what people can give you or what value you can add to any exchange in an effort to keep up appearances and continue with your boastful ways.
#5 — You become more grateful for what you have
By showing more humility, you become more grateful for the things that you have, rather than simply desiring the things that you don’t have. It’s hard to appreciate what you have when you’re so fixated on what you want. That doesn’t mean that wanting things is bad; it’s just a matter of focus.
The problem? Most of us want what we don’t have. We’re a product of a society that exalts money and fame above all else. It’s okay to have those things as long as you approach the world with humility. The humble person who genuinely appreciates what they have and focuses on others is, in fact, far more likely to succeed.
I’m not talking about shallow success; I’m talking about true success. Those that are humble, and therefor grateful, can happily approach success rather than trying to succeed to be happy. It provides wellness of spirit, peace of mind, and an invigorating drive to do things for the right reasons.
#6 — You understand the importance of contribution
By showing more humility, you understand the importance of contribution. Humble people can appreciate what others are going through and focus on contributing. It’s not about money; it’s about time. When you show more humility, you understand the importance of contributing your time, which is far more valuable than money.
Time can never be given back. It can never be recreated or saved for a later date. After this moment passes, it’s gone forever. That’s why time is so valuable. It is life’s greatest equalizer. So contributing your time is far more precious than contributing money, because money can always be recreated.
However, when you don’t show much humility, you fail to care about things like contribution. You lack a sense of contribution because the focus is on acquiring rather than giving. When you show more humility, you’re not as focused on those shiny objects that can be bought and sold.
#7 — You develop the respect of others
When you show more humility in life, you ultimately develop the respect of others. It’s a natural occurrence that happens over time, rather than a quick-fix. People appreciate and respect those who don’t feel the need to brag and boast about every little accomplishment.
People that are humble also show more interest in others because the focus is not on them. By showing more humility, they’ve learned to tune-in to that internal radar that helps them listen and pay attention to the world out there rather than living in an overactive and chaotic mind all the time.
In fact, they’re far more mindful than the average person. They’ve trained themselves to be that way by default. It’s part of their internal wiring that was created as a result of their overall humility.
#8 — You enhance your personal and business relationships
When you show more humility, you enhance all of your relationships across the board. From your business relationships to your personal relationships, every single person out there has more respect for, admiration for, and general good feelings towards a humble person versus one who likes to brag and boast.
This boils down to being happy and sated with yourself and who you are. That’s the definition of a humble person, and people are most certainly drawn to that. They’re drawn to the positive energy that naturally emanates from an individual who personifies humility to the core.
Showing more humility is also the definition of an individual with depth, someone who’s gone through the wringer, and doesn’t feel the need to self-catapult themselves all the time. In fact, a few words by Frank Ocean seem very fitting here: “Work hard in silence, let your success be your noise.”