“Humility — a strange thing. The minute you think you’ve got it — you’ve lost it.”
One of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time, C.S. Lewis, wisely wrote in his book Mere Christianity (1952):
“Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of *greasy, **smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.”
*greasy – insincerely polite
**smarmy – insincerely flattering or ingratiating (intended to gain approval or favour)
What is humility? The best way to define this word is to point its opposite: Pride.
Pride is an inwardly directed emotion that carries two antithetical meanings. With a negative connotation pride refers to a foolishly and irrationally corrupt sense of one’s personal value, status or accomplishments, used synonymously with hubris (excessive pride or self-confidence).
So what really is humility?
“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” – C.S.Lewis
Alright…that sounds nice to be our next social media “status”. So how does this translate in our real life? How do we exactly think of ourselves less?
I received a material that gives very insightful suggestions on how humility looks like in our daily dealings. It is my hope that this will bring enlightenment to readers.
A little disclaimer before we proceed…
If there is one person qualified to speak about humility, for sure that is NOT me. Like many of us, I’m also trying to work on this virtue in my life and if truth be told, I am having a REAL HARD time on this one. But I’m asking the Holy Spirit to help me so I think that’s a real advantage. So dear reader, if you do decide to read further, note that my intent is not to be preachy-preachy but more of to share (and to keep these reminders handy in the future).
9 Simple Ways to Practice Humility
1) Speak as little as possible about yourself
There is a difference between someone who is boastful and a braggart (a person who boasts about their achievements or possessions), and someone who speaks with a quiet confidence. Everyone know’s that guy. He can’t help but tell everyone how awesome he is. But the truth is–if he was really that cool, why would he have to tell everyone?
Practicing humility means you speak and act with confidence, but you never have to talk about yourself.
2) Mind your own business
There’s an old adage which says, “There are 3 sides to every story. There’s what you say happened. There’s what the other person said happened. And there’s what really happened.” The reality is, whatever the situation, you don’t know the whole story.
It’s easy to assume you understand what’s going on and make a judgment. But the reality is, you know nothing about what’s going on in other people’s situation. So mind your own business and stay out of everyone else’s.
3) Don’t try to manage other people’s affairs
Except in the rare occasions when someone specifically asks you for help, keep your advice to yourself. No matter how well intentioned your motive.
4) Stop being nosy
Curiosity not only killed the cat, it killed many a friendship. Again, we’re talking balances here. There is a big difference between showing interest in another person and being an annoying, persistent interrogator. Accept what people share with you. If you think you’re starting to cross the line into being nosy…you probably have gone too far. Dial it back a bit.
5) Accept contradictions and corrections with a smile
There are going to be times when someone is going to disagree and try to correct you for something. Whether they’re right or wrong, it doesn’t matter – and your response should always be the same. First, don’t take anything the other person says personally.
Accept the other person’s opinion and give up any need you have to prove you’re right.
When you do this, be sure to keep your non-verbal cues in check. Accepting someone’s opinion, but appearing emotionally overwhelmed with your arms folded and a scowl on you face won’t help. Smile, and accept the other person’s opinion as just that…an opinion.
6) Ignore the mistakes of others
There’s a saying I like which goes something like this, “People will always forget what you told them, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Instead of throwing people’s mistakes back in their face, use these times as your opportunity to show your humility.
Something along the lines of, “That’s ok, I used to make the same mistake all the time.” will go a long way toward showing your true humility. It will set you apart as a leader too.
7) Accept insults and injuries when directed your way
Don’t take things personally. When someone throws insults your way, be assured the problem they are dealing with is not you, it’s something else.
8) Accept being slighted, disliked or forgotten
We all have a human need to be relevant. But sometimes life moves on and, well…we aren’t as relevant as we once were. If you ever left a job and then returned a month later to visit and nobody remembered you…it’s nobody’s fault. Life just moves on.
So when your coffee barista forgets your name, or the store clerk is rude, and people don’t return your calls like they used to…don’t take it personally. Accept it and say, “But of course…this is normal. It’s not about me.”
9) Be kind, even when provoked
Being kind, even when provoked, allows you to be a positive force in people’s lives.
The act of being kind brings meaning to your life and rubs off on others. After all, it’s difficult to stay angry with someone if they respond with kindness. -Source: Drake Mariani
Thoughts to ponder (still from C.S. Lewis):
If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step.
The first step is to realise that one is proud.
If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.
How strange, isn’t it? ♥