Do you find it difficult to be humble? It can be tough to let go of our egos and put someone else first, but practicing humility is a key component of personal growth.
Humility allows us to be more open to new experiences and perspectives and more forgiving and understanding of others.
So how can you start incorporating this valuable quality into your life? Here are ways to practice humility and become a better person:
Lisa Honig Buksbaum
Positive Psychology Thought Leader | CEO, Soaringwords | Author, “SOARING into Strength: Love Transcends Pain“
Golda Meir, the first woman to serve as Israel’s Prime Minister, famously told an arrogant colleague in Parliament, “Don’t be so humble; you’re not that great.“
Often, the most humble people are ones who recognize that success is rarely a solo endeavor and that giving authentic recognition and praise is an effective way to ensure that everyone feels seen and valued.
Whether leading a family, Fortune 50 company, community-service organization or just contributing to a project, confident and competent people practice humility in the following highly effective ways.
Related: How to Be More Humble
Spot someone in the act of doing well
When you observe someone doing something well, take a moment to call it out verbally and also in writing. These micro-moments of appreciation have a significant impact on a person’s emotional and mental well-being.
The recognition creates a positive cascading impact inspiring the person to continue to do well.
Related: How to Inspire Others
Express gratitude to friends, family members, or co-workers
Gratitude doesn’t have an expiration date. At the end of each day or the end of a busy week, review what transpired and seek out situations where you can express gratitude to friends, family members, or co-workers. Take a few minutes to tell the person something positive that relates to them.
Extend this practice to think about people from your childhood or neighborhood who would appreciate hearing from you with a note of thanks or condolence or just to check and see how they are doing during these times.
Recognize the people who typically are overlooked
The person bagging your groceries at the check-out, an introverted person in your friend circle, a quiet member of your work team, or a newcomer to a project who may be feeling too tentative to share their input with confidence—these are the folks who generally keep their heads down and are easily overlooked.
Humble people have a more keenly developed emotional intelligence that recognizes the value of making the quieter people feel seen and valued. Humble people know that there is enough space and time to take a moment to invite these people to contribute.
Try calling on the folks who rarely speak up and ask them their opinions. Invite them to speak first instead of them being the stragglers in the conversation. You’ll find a lot of wisdom and some novel approaches that are often overlooked.
Be willing to make mistakes and be accountable
Humble people know how to say, “I’m sorry,” and admit when they made a mistake or when they think a course correction might be in order. Modeling this behavior gives everyone permission to be honest and forthcoming, which always ensures better communication and outcomes.
Related: Why Is Accountability Important?
Be a really good listener
Many people are poor listeners, often thinking about their response instead of practicing active constructive listening, where each person focuses on what’s being said before responding.
Humble people are excellent listeners and wait patiently to discover what other people have to say.
Related: 50+ Reasons Why Listening Is Important
Take commitments seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously
Ambitious people get things done, yet it’s essential to have places in your life where you just show up as a person—without your title, degrees, and credentials.
Perhaps you see an elderly person struggling to hail a taxi cab or someone who needs assistance. Taking a few minutes to do something altruistically without the need for recognition or praise elevates us. It proves the adage that your grandmother always told you, “It truly is better to give than receive.”
Ellie Borden, BA, RP, CPP
Registered Psychotherapist | Certified Life Coach | Clinical Director, Mind By Design®
Practicing humility is seen by many cultures in the world as being an essential part of leading a proper life. Many people have had many humbling experiences, but it is essential also to take the time to check in to be mindfully humble.
If you feel that you may need to practice humility more often, here are some tips:
Review your shortcomings
Unless you have always done things perfectly, you probably have at least one aspect of your life or character that you wish you could improve.
While you can certainly note your achievements, if you are having a hard time in some critical areas of your life, for example, being kinder to people, keeping in good shape, or controlling your anger, you are aware of how much work you have to do on yourself.
If you are actively mindful of your humility, you will be better able to see your shortcomings and approach change more clearly.
Give back and help others
Many people who do things such as supporting charities speak of what a humbling experience they find it to be. Especially when it comes to directly interacting with those who are less fortunate, this can be a great way for you to be more appreciative of what you have in your life.
It is hard to be entitled or ungrateful when you are more cognizant of just how hard so many people have it. Also, charitable acts benefit from improving some of the conditions of the world that you may object to but lack the skill or knowledge to change.
Related: 70+ Reasons Why Charity Is Important
By personally helping others, as opposed to making demands of others, you have the opportunity to practice humility, improve yourself, and make a real difference in the lives of some of the people who need it the most.
Susanne M. Alexander
Relationship and Marriage Coach & Character Specialist, CharacterYAQ | Author, “Couple Vitality“
Give respect and high regard to others and their needs
Much of how many people function in current society includes self-promotion and drawing attention to accomplishments. The character quality of humility seems to be a rare gem that is vital for you to strengthen.
What is humility?
“Humility is seeing and accepting one’s whole self, including strengths, imperfections, abilities, accomplishments, failures, and needs in modest and realistic perspective; offering one’s time, knowledge, and talents in a self-effacing way; and being willing to accept the knowledge, skills, and help of others.” (Alexander and Peirce, Couple Vitality, p. 36)
Aspects of applying humility
Someone practices humility effectively when they:
- Prays and maintains a relationship with God.
- Assesses their own abilities and achievements accurately and accept praise from others with gentle self-confidence, keeping the ego in check; name, fame, and rank are of minor importance.
- Acknowledges their own limitations and imperfections, sharing about them when beneficial, and willingly accepting feedback, ideas, and assistance from others when needed.
- Gives respect and high regard to others and their needs, honoring and sharing credit for accomplishments, and serving others to the best of their ability.
- Identifies principles and acts according to them, putting them ahead of opinions.
- Admits their mistakes to those they harm, learn from those experiences, and makes apologies, amends, and behavior changes as appropriate.
(Alexander, Creating Excellent Relationships: The Power of Character Choices, p. 185)
Signs to strengthen humility
Someone needs to strengthen humility when they:
- Treats others and their needs as inferior through attitudes, voice intonations, or actions; maintains a superior attitude as if they are usually right and have all the answers.
- Seeks to be the center of attention, to be famous, or to rank above others, to brag and boast in a prideful way about their accomplishments and ideas, favorably comparing them to those of others.
- Refuses to delegate, involve others, ask for help, or accept the work of others, thinking that they do things better than others.
- Criticizes mistakes and shortcomings.
- Engages in overly intense and inappropriate competition and power plays with others.
(Alexander, Creating Excellent Relationships: The Power of Character Choices, p. 185)
Humility and self-growth
Failures, which happen to everyone, teach humility. They provide opportunities for you to:
- Humbly ask for assistance
- Make amends where your words or actions caused hurt feelings or problems
- Learn new ways of speaking and acting
Problems give you opportunities to strengthen your character and make better choices the next time. Addressing issues rather than hiding from them produces a life of high integrity.
Humility and couple relationships
When you as a couple come together with the intention of creating a lasting relationship, the virtue of humility helps each of you to sacrifice some of your independence in favor of your union.
Humility helps you to listen well to each other and not dominate each other. Each of you can share your thoughts and feelings fully and yet detach enough from them to come to what is best for you both.
Humility helps you to see where you can be of service and help to each other, lessening any impulses to be self-centered and selfish.
The problem with false humility
Healthy individuals practice self-respect and honestly recognize their gifts, abilities, and talents. Humility is not about discounting what is good in you.
“There is nothing more harmful to the individual—and also to society than false humility which is hypocritical…. [It is wise for the individual to be] … conscious of his strength as well as of his weakness, and [to be an individual] who … strives to overcome his defects and weaknesses….” (On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Light of Divine Guidance, pp. 69-70)
Are you humble—at least sometimes?
Humble people have a light shining within them, but they are not insistent on everyone looking at their light. They look for ways to contribute to the lives of others but don’t see themselves as the hero of the story. How will you increase your humility?
Alexia J. Hogan
Humility is that ever-elusive quality that we all seek in life. Nobody wants to be seen as arrogant, and across cultures and faiths, humility is seen as a positive trait. So, thinking about ways to practice humility daily is noble, especially in our society, where status and individual success are highly valued.
I think to varying degrees, we all have room for improvement when it comes to humility. I don’t think anyone is 100% humble all the time. Arrogance can be tricky, and our behavior may not always match the ideal of who we think we are.
But I’ve found that there are five key things that really help me in my humility practice:
Admit that you need help
The first step in getting better is admitting that you need help. I talk over people frequently, but not intentionally. I talk way more than I listen. I’m quick to take offense when I feel someone has disrespected me or insulted my intelligence.
I announce my wins for everyone around me to hear. I think I’m a pretty smart woman and take pride in my intelligence. The list goes on.
Verbally expressing that I have great room for improvement keeps me from lying to myself and triggering a gag response in others. I would rather admit my arrogance than announce my perceived humility to the world.
Openly admit you’re wrong and apologize
We all have moments when we believe wholeheartedly that we’re right, only to find out that we are 100% wrong. When that happens, I try not to walk away with my tail in between my legs but openly admit I was wrong and apologize.
Every time I do this, it helps me to be more considerate of other people’s viewpoints. Even if I’m 98% sure I’m right about something, I consciously say to myself, “Maybe I’m not right.”
Whenever I’m tempted to hold on to anger, I try to think about some of the messed up things I’ve done or said without considering how it would affect others. If someone hasn’t put my life or health in danger, there’s no reason for me to banish them for life.
I’m not so morally superior that I have the right to condemn anyone for their mistakes. I try to give everyone a fresh slate in my mind every day.
Related: What Is Forgiveness and Why Is It Important?
Keep a simple wardrobe
I love to look like I’ve taken a shower, but I’m not the type who shops for clothes regularly or tries to stand out. I have five pairs of shoes that I rotate regularly—2 pairs of flats, one pair of basic rain boots, one pair of running shoes, and one pair of boots.
Unless someone hands something down to me, I don’t gravitate toward designer clothes. When I look basic, I feel pretty basic. Just a regular ole’ woman moving about her day.
If I were a millionaire, I’d still shop at discount stores and keep a simple wardrobe. I’m not trying to stand out in the crowd.
Do not take all the credit
I realize that in life, people or situations have helped me more than I’ve helped myself.
- I wouldn’t have a decent job unless someone helped me.
- I wouldn’t have gone to college if I didn’t come from a family that valued education.
- I wouldn’t have my value system unless someone instilled it in me.
I’m very much a product of my environment, so I try not to take credit for my successes and accomplishments. And likewise, I understand that my life would look very different if I came from a different environment.
Personal Empowerment and Leadership Expert |
Creator and Host, The School of Self
Have self-awareness and the willpower to transform into who you want to be
Humility is often misunderstood. Humility is not about the relationship between yourself and the other; it is about the relationship between your present self and the self you are becoming.
When we are aware of our opportunities to grow and actively pursue personal growth, we naturally find ourselves feeling humbled by the greatness of the person we are becoming.
We feel humility as a reminder to remain mindful and focused so that we can soon become that better, kinder, more successful version of ourselves.
We struggle with humility when we are not connected with the awareness of our current strengths, personal growth opportunities, and the next steps necessary for us to become a more satisfied and impactful version of ourselves.
If you or someone you know is struggling to feel humble, it is likely for one of two reasons:
- They are not excited to grow as a person, often because the role modeling they see, the subjects they study, or their work is not aligned with their genuine interests.
- They are so overwhelmed by how much they’d like to grow that they do not know how to get started. Therefore, they’d rather disconnect from the awareness than feel emotionally overwhelmed and incapable.
The best way to practice humility is to have self-awareness about who you are today, a clear vision of who you are becoming, and the willpower to make the transformation happen.
Here are reflections for connecting with your strengths, growth opportunities, and the pathway to becoming a more satisfied and impactful version of yourself:
- What are things that I enjoy doing but do not do, only because I believe I suck at them? Can I give myself permission to enjoy practicing until I feel more capable and confident?
- Do I put any dreams on the back burner instead of treating my satisfaction and success as a top priority? Am I deprioritizing because I feel insecure or lack the skills to make them a reality? What can I do to prioritize these dreams more than I do now?
- If I treated my personal growth as a top priority, what would I be doing differently today? What would I do differently on a day-to-day basis?
- Am I pursuing things because of how they make me feel or how they make me look? What would it look like to focus on how I feel even more and focus on how I look even less than I do now?
- Do I have any habits that are only there to compensate for my insecurities? Am I limiting the intimacy in my relationships, isolating myself, or overworking to avoid moments of silent reflection? What would it look like to have a daily practice of being in touch with my insecurities and working toward becoming a stronger, more capable, more peaceful version of myself?
Self-reflection increases self-awareness and therefore allows us to be aware of how in progress we currently are. And that is the practice of humility.
Spiritual Mentor | CEO, A Clair Mindset
Practicing humility is knowing we’re not always right, not always wanted, and not always the best
Showing up authentically in 2022 In this day and age, our ability to show up authentically is what is making others notice. No more masks, no molds of who you think you should be, just you.
It is now about who can show up being their most authentic self. We seek a truly deep connection with not just ourselves but those we surround ourselves with. We ask ourselves what relationships are filling us with love and what relationships are just draining and sucking our energy.
We seek a balance in giving and receiving from all relationships and being able to always show up as you take a great deal of humility. You are vulnerable, allowing all of your strengths and what you consider flaws and weaknesses to show—allowing those around you to truly see and experience—you!
We are taught from a young age this is dangerous and that being vulnerable leaves you open to getting hurt.
What humility allows
Humility is what allows us to be our authentic selves knowing no one is perfect and we always have room to grow. To expand our wings in ways we have never thought of before and to experience what true freedom is.
Humility equals the freedom to be authentic and allows you to manifest here and now with grace, knowing you are still growing.
What humility is
Humility is not about viewing yourself as less than others or lowering your value or importance. Humility, in this sense, is the practice of humbling yourself to know we are always growing and learning, expanding our consciousness and way of living.
It is giving yourself, and others grace to show up authentically and lead a life from a place of continued expansion and acceptance. Knowing not everyone is for us; however, we accept them for who they are and allow them to live from a place of truth.
Our way is not the only way. Our belief is not the only belief.
Practicing humility is knowing we are not always right, not always wanted, and not always the best. However, we are always present, here and now, loving ourselves unconditionally, knowing we are always enough.
Being a human being has given me much insight into humility. It is how we choose to live day to day through humility that sets us apart from other forces that attempt to control that which they do not understand.
- Do we choose to hide behind a facade of humility with masks covering who we really are?
- Do we choose to hide behind humility with the molds of the person we think we should be, never revealing the one true mold of our truest selves?
- Do we choose to hide behind humility with ego, putting on the front of being the best, being the one, being the leader of all?
The practice of humility
The practice of humility is simple—it is acceptance. Love and accept yourself unconditionally! All of your beauty and your quirks! Accept your fellow human.
We do not have to agree with all; however, accepting each other when they are living their authentic lives and give grace when we are all learning. Know that you are no better and no worse than the person next to you. Live in your truest form through your authentic life!
Dr. Cary Goldstein, DMD
Dentist, Goldstein Dental Center
Humility is simply a state of mind where you recognize your own weakness and limitations. It’s acknowledging that we’re all humans, and therefore we are prone to making mistakes and that we need help. And because of that, humility is something that should be practiced.
So what does humility look like? What are the practical ways that you can develop humility in your life?
Accept yourself for who you are
Well, the first thing you can do is to begin to accept yourself for who you are. We tend to judge ourselves by comparing ourselves to others, which sometimes makes us feel bad about ourselves.
Stop trying to change things that aren’t within your control
The next thing you can do is stop trying to change things that aren’t within your control. And for example, when you try to improve your character, change your personality or anything like that, you will never be happy with yourself.
So the best thing you can do is to accept yourself for who you are and to be the person you’ve always wanted to be.
Be grateful for everything that you have in life
Finally, you should be grateful for everything that you have in life. You shouldn’t get upset when things don’t go your way. Instead, you should appreciate what you have.
I would say that they also tend to be more positive than others. If you are around these kinds of people, you will often find that they have a positive outlook on life.
So if you are someone who feels like you can be a bit self-absorbed or who finds yourself feeling depressed or angry a lot, I would suggest you focus on practicing humility. Because if you develop humility in your life, you will experience a positive change in your life.
Kelly Sinning, MA, LPC, NCC
Owner and Licensed Professional Counselor, Kelly Sinning Counseling, LLC
Acknowledge your weak spots, and do not pretend to have strength in areas that you don’t
True humility recognizes us for who we are- the good, bad, and the neutral. Often, we think humility means self-sacrificing, lacking in arrogance, and non-boastful. And it can mean those things. But it also means being sure and secure in the strengths we bring to the world around us.
Humility means to acknowledge not only our weak spots and not pretend to have strength in areas we don’t but to be proud and present with our strengths and skills; to fully know that we can bring goodness into the world by being secure and truthful about the areas we excel in.
Otherwise, we deprive people and the world of our gifts.
Strength Training Expert | CEO and President, Dr Fitness International | Author, “Feminine Body Design“
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.” —C.S. Lewis
Most of us would likely think of ourselves as humble people, but the truth is that humility is often something we must actively work on. It’s easy to let our egos get the better of us and to start thinking that we’re better than others.
Here are a few ways you can work on being more humble:
Check your ego
Your ego is not your amigo. The first step to practicing humility is to check your ego.
- Are you always needing to be right?
- Do you need to have the last word in every conversation?
- Do you get defensive when someone criticizes you?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then your ego might be getting in the way of your ability to be humble.
Be grateful; focus on what you have rather than what you lack
When we are grateful for what we have, we realize how much we have, which can humble us by realizing that we are not self-sufficient and need help. When we are grateful, we focus on what we have rather than what we lack. This can help us to feel content rather than always wanting more.
Lastly, gratitude can help us to see the good in others rather than always looking for their flaws. We are more likely to be kind, humble, and forgiving when grateful.
Be of service
Start each day by thinking about ways you can be of service to others. Whether making your bed, doing the dishes, or taking the dog for a walk, do something for someone else with no expectation of anything in return.
How to practice patience:
- Be patient with people, even if they are frustrating you.
- Remember that everyone is fighting their own battle, and you don’t know what they are going through.
- Be curious about other people and their lives.
- Ask them questions and listen to their answers.
- Let go of any judgment you might have of others. Everyone is doing the best they can with the resources they have.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. Be able to laugh at yourself and your mistakes. Life is too short to always be so serious!
Humility is something that takes practice. It’s not always easy to be humble, but it’s a virtue worth striving for. By being mindful of your successes, staying grateful, and practicing humility in your everyday life, you can start to make humility a part of who you are.
Author, “Wilderness Survival“ | Founder, Wilderness Survival Training
Humility is arguably one of the most difficult character traits to master because it requires you to step outside your comfort zone and intentionally put the needs of others before your own.
However, humility is difficult to pinpoint because you just don’t walk outside your door and simply “be humble.” Rather, humility is an extension of love and selflessness in action.
Therefore, it is critical to understand not only how a person can practice humility but, more importantly, why it matters to build a personal character that will last a lifetime.
Seek opportunities to serve others
Humility is best exemplified by seeking opportunities to serve others. It requires you to elevate their needs before your own and allows you to put unconditional love into action.
It is an intentional display of embracing the lowest position (as a servant would) by considering life with fresh perspective through a greater appreciation for the blessings you possess.
Putting yourself in the position of a servant is arguably one of the greatest opportunities to practice humility because it also reminds you of what it feels like to be in desperate need.
Therefore, the more you seek opportunities to humble yourself, the more you will become known as a humble person because actions speak louder than words.
Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought
Humility ensures you check your pride at the door and accept the task before you regardless of how menial it may be, for there is no substitute for accepting the functional role no one else wants.
Casein point: Who raises their hand first in in-service opportunities to clean bathrooms, scrub floors, or take out the trash? Arguably, those jobs are the least coveted but, truthfully, produce the greatest opportunity for practicing humility.
Therefore, when you accept responsibility for the one job no one wants, an opportunity is placed before you, which will force you to not think more highly of yourself than you ought.
The benefit is you gain a far greater appreciation for those who perform those tasks which you benefit from daily and ensure you keep your pride in check by not taking those blessings for granted.
Let unconditional love drive your response
The reason so many people struggle to know how to practice humility is that they are so fearful of stepping out of their comfort zone and loving the downtrodden in society.
That is why there is no substitute for working in a homeless shelter, or soup kitchen, or ministering to those in prison because the struggles others face are simply a reflection of your own at the deepest heart level.
The challenge is setting aside fear, anxiety, and worry over the unknown. Oftentimes, people distance themselves from those who literally have nothing in life because they assume they don’t know how to relate to them.
However, you can glean incredible humility by investing your time, energy, and resources by showing compassion and giving unconditional love to the forgotten souls in our world today.
Be content with what you have but not with who you are
Contentment and humility go hand in hand. Basically, if you’re content with your lot in life, you’re less consumed with yourself and more focused on the needs of others around you.
Contentment in provision is key, but discontentment in your personal character is a healthy practice to guard against becoming idle and missing opportunities to love and serve others.
Therefore, if you want to grow in character, become discontent with the status quo. Seek new opportunities to put the needs of others before your own so that your discontentment in your depth and breadth of personal character drives positive change.
In the end, you will develop a greater understanding of what humility is designed to bring about in your life, which is a deeper appreciation for the blessings you have been provided and for which you should be extremely thankful.
Chief People and Operations Officer, Checkr, Inc.
Humility is an important virtue to practice in both your personal and professional life. However, it can be difficult to do when we get wrapped up in our own success.
Here are some tips for practicing humility in the office:
Take a moment each day to recognize the accomplishments of your coworkers and give credit where it is due. This will show that you value their efforts and encourage collaboration among your team.
Acknowledge your mistakes
Admitting when you’re wrong is a sign of great character and helps build trust with others. Don’t be afraid to apologize for mistakes or misjudgments, as it shows that you’re capable of taking responsibility.
Give credit where it is due
Make sure to recognize the contributions and successes of your colleagues, even if you weren’t directly involved in the project or initiative. This helps build a team atmosphere and encourages collaboration.
Listen actively without interruption
Show interest in what others have to say by actively listening without interruption. Don’t just wait for your turn to talk; instead, let others have their chance to offer their perspective.
Speak positively about others
Staying away from gossip and rumor-mongering will help you maintain a humble attitude. Speak positively about others, even if it’s in private conversation with a trusted friend or colleague.
Remember, humility isn’t about being overly modest or self-effacing; it’s about recognizing that we are all part of a larger team, and our successes depend on each other. Viewing others as equals and showing respect can go a long way in helping maintain healthy relationships.
Christian Blogger | Ordained Minister | Author, “Extinguishing the Spirit of Fear“
Put yourself in someone else’s shoes
- Acknowledge your mistakes and be willing to learn from them.
- Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses, and don’t compare yourself to others.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously; be humble enough to laugh at yourself sometimes.
- Put the needs of others before your own, and be willing to help others whenever you can.
- Remember that you’re only human, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed.
- Express gratitude for the things you have and for the people in your life.
- Surround yourself with positive people who can help you stay on track and keep a balanced perspective.
- Don’t let pride get in the way of humility—never think you’re better than anyone else or more deserving.
- Keep an open mind, and be receptive to new ideas, feedback, and even criticism.
- Be true to yourself, and don’t try to be someone else.
As they say, put yourself in someone else’s shoes. For example, if someone cuts you off in traffic, instead of getting angry, try to understand that they may have had a bad day or been going through a challenging situation.
Practicing humility can take time and effort, but the rewards are well worth it—both for yourself and those around you. With a little patience and persistence, anyone can cultivate this important quality!
Recognize that you are not the ultimate source of the good that you find in yourself
The enemy of humility is pride. When asked what someone should do if they are struggling with prideful thoughts, Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit movement, said this:
“Refer everything that you do to God. Strive to offer him all the good you find in yourself, acknowledging that this comes from God. And thank him for it.”
This is great advice. Ignatius is saying, “recognize that you are not the ultimate source of the good that you find in yourself..” If you can do that, you can become thankful for even your own positive traits. This works just as well for non-religious people.
If you’re a kind and loving person, a parent or guardian likely taught you how to be kind and loving. If you’re a disciplined and driven person, you probably saw those positive characteristics in someone else before you started that path yourself.
We slay the dragon of pride when we acknowledge that the good we find in ourselves has been nurtured from outside. This then helps us to avoid judging others.
They might lack a certain positive trait we’ve picked up along the way, but it’s likely that they didn’t have the same learning opportunities we had. This perspective enables you to be grateful for who you are without becoming prideful in any way. And gratitude is the heart of humility.
Realize that we are all just here temporarily and serve a purpose
Regarding humility, the moment we realize that we are all just here temporarily and serve a purpose, we realize that we are only a small part of a larger scheme. We are a mere dot in the vastness of space.
All we can do is carry on with our work without worrying or being concerned about the outcome. The most important thing to remember is that nobody is necessary; neither our lives nor anyone else’s depend on us.
Even though we may be related, even if one of us were to disappear, the others would still live. If neither you nor I perform a particular task, someone else will. Off without us, the world will continue to exist.
Senior Editor, Tandem
People frequently admire those who are humble. Those who don’t need credit. The ones that do things because they are the right things to do. There are some ways you can practice humility.
Try to see the positive
You didn’t get asked out, you didn’t get the job, or you generally didn’t get what you wanted. Whatever the reason, there will be times in your life when you don’t get what you are looking for.
Instead of becoming disgruntled, try to see the positive. The person you wanted didn’t ask you out, but not too long after, someone else did. The job you didn’t get was at a company that closed down six months later.
Sometimes it won’t be as quick or easy to see the positive, but if you look, you should find an aspect to feel optimistic about.
You don’t have to win every disagreement
If you fight to make others agree with you, or you don’t give up on something until you get your way, people might think of you as self-centered, conceited, or something else derogatory.
You won’t be able to convince everyone that you are right all the time, and that’s okay. Know when it’s appropriate to stop a conversation or disagreement. You don’t need to worry about what other people think. It’s what you think or what you know that is most important.
Related: How to Not Care What People Think
Do your best to be kind
When someone is being disrespectful or rude, it can be difficult not to stoop to their level. As they throw insults, you might be tempted to throw some back their way. Instead of acting this way, take the high road.
You can excuse yourself or merely remain but be the “bigger person.”
There is a reason that advice is often given to “kill them with kindness,” and that reason is that it usually works. It will also go a long way in helping you practice humility.
Admit when you are wrong
People frequently hate being wrong, but it happens to everyone at some point in their lives. For some people, it happens more often than not. It doesn’t matter why you were wrong. The way to practice humility is to admit that you were wrong.
If there is a way that you can right your wrong, that’s even better. But simply acknowledging in a heartfelt way that you weren’t right will let people know you are trying to be humble.
Some people are naturally humble beings. Other people have to work on this character trait. By making a concerted effort, you will realize you can practice humility more easily than you might have thought possible. It just takes a little time and a lot of work.
Kate Kandefer, PhD
CEO and Co-founder, SEOwind
Listen more than you speak
The first step towards practicing humility is to listen. It doesn’t sound that hard, but it can be a massive challenge as the first step to a more humility-focused lifestyle.
Rather than interjecting your own anecdotes, focus on listening to what others are saying and ask the leading questions that let them put themselves in the spotlight of the conversation.
A key caveat—you’re not trying to problem solve; you are trying to listen and respond as a human being.
Gather feedback from others
It can be hard to see yourself objectively and even harder to process feedback that doesn’t mesh with your own view of yourself. Part of being more humble is understanding yourself as you are and as others see you, not necessarily how you see yourself in your own head.
Recognize and name your feelings
Being more humble means understanding where your feelings and actions are coming from—was that comment motivated by arrogance? By pride? Without a healthy dose of introspection and self-analysis, you’re not going to get very far.
CEO and Co-Founder, Qooper Mentoring & Learning Software
Be mindful of your own limitations
One way to practice humility is to be mindful of your own limitations. Remember that you are not perfect and that you do not know everything. Try to be open to new ideas and new ways of doing things. Be willing to learn from others, even if they are different from you.
Be grateful for what you have
Another way to practice humility is to be grateful for what you have. Be thankful for your talents and abilities and for the good things in your life.
A humble person is not jealous or resentful of others. Instead, they appreciate the good in others and are happy for their success.
Related: How to Deal With Jealous People
Avoid bragging or boasting about your accomplishments
Finally, try to be humble in your interactions with others. Avoid bragging or boasting about your accomplishments. Be respectful and considerate of others, even if you disagree with them.
Listen more than you talk, and try to see things from their perspective. By doing these things, you can become a more humble person.
CEO and Owner, Very Informed
Clearly understand yourself—both strengths and weaknesses
Though often conflated, humility is not the same as meekness or self-deprecation. Rather, humility is clearly understanding oneself—both strengths and weaknesses—and behaving accordingly.
It is recognizing that while one may be competent in many areas, there will always be areas in which others excel. Consequently, humility leads to a lifelong attitude of learning.
Here are four ways to practice humility:
- Avoid circulating information about yourself that could be construed as bragging. This includes downplaying your achievements to appear more modest.
- Listen attentively and openly to others without judging or interrupting. Valuing others’ opinions shows that you see them as equals.
- Be willing to admit when you don’t know something or have made a mistake—admitting ignorance is the first step to learning.
- Take on tasks that are outside of your comfort zone. This will help you to grow as a person and gain new skills.
By following these four steps, you can develop humility and use it to become a lifelong learner.
Creator, Busy Mom’s Helper
Think of yourself as a mother
One way to practice humility is to think of oneself as a mother. Mothers are the backbone of society and the glue that holds families together. A mother is selfless in her love for her children, and she always puts their interests first. She never thinks of herself as being better than anyone else.
When we think of ourselves in this way, we can begin to see our shortcomings and be more forgiving toward others. We also become more compassionate and understanding toward the plight of others.
We realize that we are all human beings and we all make mistakes. We have come to understand that no one is perfect, and that is ok.
We should also remember that in everything we do, no matter how big or small it may seem, we should do so with grace and humility.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the signs of humility?
Humility manifests in various ways, but some common signs include:
• Active listening: Humble individuals genuinely pay attention to others, valuing their thoughts and opinions without interrupting or dominating conversations.
• Appreciating others: Recognizing and expressing gratitude for the contributions and achievements of others is a sign of humility, as it indicates that you’re not solely focused on your own success.
• Being teachable: A humble person is open to learning, admitting when they’re wrong, and seeking guidance or feedback from others.
• Modesty: Humble individuals don’t boast about their accomplishments or seek constant praise; they let their actions speak for themselves.
• Empathy: Understanding and valuing the feelings and perspectives of others showcases humility, as it demonstrates that you acknowledge the worth and importance of those around you.
Is humility the same as being submissive or weak?
Humility is often misunderstood as being submissive or weak, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. It is about recognizing your limitations, being open to growth, and valuing the contributions of others.
Humility doesn’t equate to a lack of confidence or self-worth; in fact, it’s a sign of emotional intelligence and strength. A humble person can assert themselves and stand up for their beliefs while still being open to the possibility that they might be wrong or could learn something new.
How can practicing humility benefit my relationships?
Practicing humility can have a profound impact on your relationships, both personally and professionally. Here are some ways humility can enhance your connections with others:
• Trust-building: When you’re open and authentic, it encourages others to be the same, fostering trust and deepening connections.
• Conflict resolution: Humility allows you to approach disagreements with an open mind, understanding that others may have valid perspectives, which can lead to more effective problem-solving.
• Collaboration: Recognizing and valuing the skills and knowledge of others makes you a better team player, promoting collaboration and more successful outcomes.
• Emotional support: Being humble means you’re more likely to be empathetic and supportive, which can strengthen the emotional bonds in your relationships.
• Personal growth: Embracing humility means you’ll be more open to receiving feedback, helping you grow and develop personally and professionally.
Can humility coexist with assertiveness and confidence?
Absolutely! Humility, assertiveness, and confidence can coexist harmoniously within an individual.
A person who is humble is aware of their own limitations and open to learning from others. This self-awareness actually enhances one’s confidence, as it demonstrates emotional intelligence and self-acceptance.
When you combine humility with assertiveness, you can have a perfect balance—an individual who can stand up for their own beliefs and values while remaining open to the perspectives of others. This blend of traits fosters an environment of mutual respect and collaboration.
Why do people lack humility?
• Insecurity: Sometimes, people who are insecure about their abilities or worth might overcompensate by being boastful or arrogant to mask their perceived shortcomings.
• Cultural influences: Certain cultural values might encourage competitiveness, individualism, or self-promotion, which can lead to a lack of humility.
• Upbringing: A person’s upbringing and early experiences can play a significant role in shaping their character. If someone has been brought up in an environment that prioritizes personal achievement over humility, they might struggle to develop this trait.
• Fear of vulnerability: Humility requires acknowledging one’s weaknesses and limitations, which can be uncomfortable. Some people might avoid embracing humility because they’re afraid of appearing weak or vulnerable.
How does humility relate to spirituality and religion?
Humility is often considered an essential virtue in many spiritual and religious traditions. In these contexts, humility is seen as a way to develop a deeper connection with a higher power or the universe. By acknowledging our limitations and recognizing that we are part of something much larger than ourselves, we can foster a sense of gratitude, compassion, and interconnectedness with others.
In many religious teachings, humility is also linked to personal growth and moral development. Embracing humility allows individuals to be open to new perspectives, learn from their mistakes, and grow in their spiritual journey. In this way, humility serves as a foundation for cultivating other virtues, such as empathy, patience, and forgiveness.
Does humility have negative effects?
While humility is generally considered a positive trait, it can sometimes have negative effects if taken to an extreme or misunderstood. For instance, excessive humility might lead to:
• Self-deprecation: When individuals downplay their own achievements, talents, or worth excessively, they might inadvertently create a negative self-image and diminish their self-esteem.
• Reluctance to act: Extreme humility might cause a person to hesitate when it comes to making decisions or taking action. This reluctance can sometimes lead to missed opportunities or prevent them from realizing their full potential.
• Allowing mistreatment: In some cases, overly humble individuals might allow others to take advantage of them or fail to assert their own needs and boundaries.
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