“Humility, like darkness, reveals the heavenly lights.” – Henry David Thoreau
When do you consider your life “finished”? At what point can you hang up your hat and say that you truly have done everything you wanted in life, you are perfect in every way and that you have learned all you need to know? The answer for all of us is the same – never. None of us can ever say with absolutely certainty that we have truly arrived and there is nothing more for us to do. Just like life is a never ending journey, the goal of being all that we can be in life is also never ending. We all have work to do – be it in our personal lives, our careers or in our community. There are always areas we can work on improving, new ideas we can learn and new experiences we can have and share with others.
Much of the reason that we can never say we are “the best there is” comes from our humility – or our humbleness. You can think of humility as a built-in ego balancer. It makes sure that we don’t think to highly of ourselves (yes, there will always be someone better at what we do or someone who knows more than we do) or too negatively of ourselves (appreciation from coworkers, family and positive reinforcement from those around you). Most of us strive to make sure that we are humble in our lives and give credit where credit is due, and also receive credit when we deserve it. For many of us, we get our satisfaction in life over knowing that we have done a task to the best of our ability.
Humility is also used as a way to remind us how far we have come and how far we have yet to go. It could be the 20-something college student who is graduating this year after he worked his way through four long years of college. The kid that nobody ever thought would make it to college because he grew up in public housing and never had a stable family. It’s that kid that is recognizes where he has been and the struggles and work it took to get him to where he is today. He also realizes the vast opportunities that lay in front of him. His dreams of going on to a successful career and raising a family are some of his goals in life and act as a compass to help him know which way to go.
The ideal world would be filled with inspirational stories like the one above. People like our young man above who doesn’t think he know it all or have done all there is; people who saw adversity and stared it in the face and overcame it. People who have clear goals set for their life and are working on achieving them. These people know how important it is to be humble because they know that it takes more than just one person for anything to happen – they know that it is better to help out those around you than to isolate yourself with your possessions or money.
The Negative Ego
Far too many have a negative ego, they look down upon themselves for some reason or think they are not worthy of being where they are in life or that they don’t deserve the chances that others get. Our friend above could have thought that, and he would have been no better off (and probably worse off) today than he was growing up. Yet instead of believing he wasn’t worthy he knew that he was and that he deserved the same opportunities as others. Follow his lead and every time you feel yourself saying “I can’t” change it into an “I will try my best to”!
Nobody in life is perfect – can you imagine what a boring world that would be if they were? We are all human and we will all make mistakes, have imperfections and need the help of others from time and again. These are not defects on our part as a human – they are the very things that make us human. We should embrace them and use them to help us learn and grow not only as a person, but also as a member of an imperfect world!
Remember to keep a healthy dose of humility in your life. By doing so you are constantly keeping yourself in check with others around you, and at the same time you are opening yourself up to continue learning and growing as a person. Humility can be one of the best psychological tools we humans have – the ability to know that we aren’t perfect, we aren’t broken, we are who we are!