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7 Reasons Why Humility is the Beginning of Wisdom

7 Reasons Why Humility is the Beginning of Wisdom

Humility is a hard word to define, but even harder to put into practice.

For me, even writing about humility takes a bit of humility. It’s something that has been practiced by humanity’s greatest teachers and thinkers for thousands of years.

The Buddha, Jesus, Gandhi, even Albert Einstein – they, and many more, have lived and breathed the practice of humility. But, if you are a seeker of wisdom, you probably are already practicing this important virtue.

So, what is it, exactly?

Some say it’s thinking of others as better than yourself. Some, like C.S. Lewis, say that it’s thinking of yourself less. Some say it’s simple modesty.

So which of them is it? The answer is – yes. All of the above. But, it starts when you empty yourself. It starts when we realize that we are not entitled to anything, we are nothing of ourselves, and there is something bigger than ourselves at every turn.

This self-emptying makes you super honest with yourself and your environment. In fact, honesty might be the key sign that you possess humility. Through humility, you know exactly who are, what you are good at, and what you may not be totally awesome at.

And that is the beginning of wisdom.

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Without getting too much into it too quickly, I’ll dive into the 7 Reasons…

1. The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing

Albert Einstein posited that the more you know, the more humble you become. Socrates was quoted to say, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”

There’s a pattern there. From humility, we realize that we don’t know everything. Then we become curious. We ask questions. We learn.

Then, the more we learn and the more we apply what we learn, the better we get at life. That is wisdom – knowing what to do to create the life we want for ourselves, our family and our world.

Eventually we start to form a habit of learning. We purposely empty ourselves, so that we can learn more and do better.

I love nothing more than receiving a powerful insight during study or in life. It’s exhilarating. It becomes a thirst. It makes me realize that I, in fact, know very little and must learn more.

Try it out. Start asking questions, if you don’t already. Hard questions. Make it a habit. You will see stellar results in all areas of your life.

2. Humility helps you care less about who is right or wrong

When you desire wisdom, you don’t care where it comes from. You are okay with being proven wrong, because that’s an opportunity to learn. There are lessons in failure.

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Sometimes you will be the one with the key piece of wisdom to guide a situation. Sometimes you won’t. Humility teaches you not to care about who wins.

3. Humility helps you understand that you, and everything around you, can always improve

Sometimes it takes a hard life lesson – reaching rock-bottom – to learn humility. That’s how it was for me. I thought I was pretty hot stuff. I wanted to find my own way, do my own thing, because I was “destined for greatness”.

Bad move! I was almost homeless, having been evicted from my apartment… I lost everything. My decisions also alienated a lot of people in the process.

It was hard. But eventually I learned. I learned that I didn’t really know anything. And up to that point, I didn’t want to learn anything that would actually change me.

Humility is the pride-killer. It shows you that you don’t know much. But, then you become open to learn. More teachable. You want your character to improve.

Even if you don’t hit rock-bottom, humility still helps you be honest with yourself enough to say, “I don’t know as much as I thought. I need to do some digging to get better at this.”

4. Humility stops you from taking things for granted

Humility makes you grateful. We are not entitled to anything and everything has a price. Nothing is permanent. Realizing this makes you grateful – and that takes humility.

How is that wisdom? I’ll answer that with a rhetorical question:

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Is it better to lose something that you didn’t even see the value of,

or gain something because you took the time to appreciate and cultivate it?

When you are grateful for something, you are more likely to keep that thing (and other things like it!), in your life.

Gratitude attracts more of what you’re grateful for. I would rather have good things grow in my life. That’s not to say that if you are grateful, you will never lose the things you value. You probably will, at some point in your life.

But, you will feel good that you were grateful for that thing you lost. How many times have we beat ourselves up for not appreciating a loved one enough that passed away? Also, you will stay positive in situations where you’ve lost something, so that you are better able to move forward.

5. Humility helps you treat people the way they should be treated

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” – Jesus

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It’s hard to put others first, but the future of humanity depends on how much we value each other. Sounds dramatic, but I think it’s true.

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When you humble yourself, you are better able to see the true value of others. This creates trust, and trust is the foundation for a cohesive, peaceful, and happy society. That’s a great responsibility. However you treat people influences how they treat others. What you give, is given.

So, every time we treat people with love and respect, we are literally re-creating our world for the better. And that is awesome.

6. Humility gives you your best weapon to achieve success

We come nearest to the great when we are great in humility. – Rabindranath Tagore

There are so many ways that this is true:

  • Humility shows you that your way may not be the best way to succeed.
  • Humility creates confidence, because you are honest with yourself about what you can actually do well. And confidence will take you far.
  • Humility helps you gain influence with others. You become the kind of person that people want to listen to and follow.

7. “Humility is the solid foundation of all virtues.” – Confucius

When you’re honest about yourself and your environment, you see how they both can improve. You’ll see opportunities.

You’ll see parts of your character that need the most work – whether it be patience, compassion or something else.

Even in your career, you’ll be better able to say, “Wow, I could do this and this and this better”. Or, “Our company isn’t that great at ________. But if I help fix it, that would help the company out a lot!”

Featured photo credit: albumarium.com via albumarium.com

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Last Updated on October 14, 2019

12 Inspirational Speeches That Teach You the Most Valuable Life Lessons

12 Inspirational Speeches That Teach You the Most Valuable Life Lessons

The most valuable thing an experienced person has is their experience. People make mistakes, learn from them, and adapt their life around them to become better people. Those people would then tell tales to others to help teach those lessons so that others would not have to make the same mistakes.

People still tell these stories today but in a slightly different format — they use speeches to express their experiences. Here are some valuable life lessons you can learn from some of the greatest inspirational speeches:

1. JK Rowling teaches us to not fear failure no matter how bad things become

It is a well-known fact that JK Rowling’s now-famous Harry Potter series was turned down by several publishers before it was finally picked up. Those publishers are likely kicking themselves in the pants right now. However, before that, JK Rowling was in a fairly dire situation and was on the brink of failure. Despite being turned down time and time again, she kept trying. Her efforts paid off. Harry Potter is now a ubiquitous character in today’s world culture. Despite failing over and over again, Rowling kept trying and fulfilled her dreams. You can watch her deliver some valuable life lessons in her Harvard commencement speech video above.

2. Steve Jobs teaches us to never settle

Steve Jobs had a fairly tumultuous life. He co-founded Apple, was kicked out of the company, came back, and then re-defined the mobile phone space with the iPhone. Even if iPhones aren’t the rage they once were, its iconic value is forever written in stone. One thing Jobs never did was settle. He lived life on his own terms and was rewarded for it by being dubbed one of the most revolutionary voices in technology of our time. In the Stanford commencement speech above, Jobs explains how you should never settle for what someone else wants out of your life. It’s your life and you should do what you want with it.

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3. Admiral William H McRaven teaches us to make our beds every day

Anyone who has gone through the basic training of a military service will tell you it’s pretty difficult. However, every seemingly obnoxious step is actually a life lesson in disguise. This even applies to flawlessly making one’s bed every single morning. As Admiral William H McRaven teaches us, recruits are taught to make their beds every morning to remind them that even the little things in life matter. After all, how can you be expected to handle the biggest obstacles in your life if you can’t even handle the small and the mundane like making your bed every day? You can watch the entire speech in the video above.

4. Author David Foster Wallace teaches us that we’re a part of a greater existence

David Foster Wallace found fame in 1987 with his book The Broom of the System. Nearly 20 years later in 2005 he game a commencement speech at Kenyon College that is worth listening to at least once. In his speech, he reminds us that was are but a part of a huge, dynamic, ever changing interaction of life forms. In order to truly experience life, we need to leave our personal bubbles and interact with others even if it’s in an unpleasant way. Wallace states, “It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.” You can watch the whole speech above.

5. Stephen Colbert teaches us that life isn’t something you can plan

If there is anyone who knows about improvisation, it’s comedian Stephen Colbert. In his commencement speech at Northwestern University in 2011, Colbert reminded students that you cannot plan life. Life throws too many curve balls. There are too many unpredictable things that can happen. The most successful and happy people are not those who have a plan, but those who can roll with the punches and overcome the obstacles. He goes on to site his time as an improv comic and how all of the actors working together to create a scene out of literally nothing are all working for one another. He states that like improv comedy, you don’t know what happens next in life. You just make it up as you go along. You can watch the whole speech above.

6. Kurt Vonnegut teaches us to not sweat the small stuff

Some of our younger readers may not know Kurt Vonnegut. He is a famous author that found of of his success during the middle of last century. In 1999, Kurt Vonnegut was at Agnes Scott College giving a commencement speech. During the speech, he mentioned that in order to live a more complete life, people needed to let stuff go. He argued that you cannot reasonably expect others to forgive you for your mistakes if you cannot forgive others and that you cannot live life fostering a personal vendetta against others.

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7. Neil Gaiman teaches us that success can be distracting.

Neil Gaiman is most known for his work in a number of literary mediums including journalism, comic books, and novels. In 2012, Gaiman gave a speech at the University of the Arts where he talked about success. He stated that when you become successful, you may be unintentionally swayed from performing the actions that made you successful. Gaiman recalled his early success and how he felt pressured to answer emails all day long and it actually prevented him from writing as much as he wanted. So he reminds us to keep doing what makes us successful and to not let others get in the way.

8. Barack Obama’s life lessons teaches us that you really can beat the odds

We know that not everyone likes Barack Obama but that doesn’t mean the man can’t deliver an amazing speech. In this 2004 keynote speech at the Democratic National Convenction, Obama reminds that it is possible to beat the odds and become something great. He cites his own upbringing as an example and how he was never expected to make it as far as he did. It shows that when you’re passionate about something and when you try hard enough, you can accomplish almost anything. It’s important to note that Obama talks about this in 2004 and would become the President of the United States just four years later.

9. Robin Roberts reminds us that we each have the courage to overcome challenges

Robin Roberts knows a thing or two about courage. She is a breast cancer survivor and has done battle with a rare blood disease called myelodysplastic syndrome. Her sister once had to donate bone marrow just so Robin could remain alive. She was also ESPN’s first African American broadcaster in the early 1990’s. She’s a woman who works in an industry predominately populated by men. So when Robin Roberts takes the stage at the ESPYs and delivers a short lecture on having courage, we would do well to listen!

10. Martin Luther King Jr. reminds us that some things are more important than success

We all know the story of Martin Luther King Jr. So much so that we have a day of the year to celebrate him as a national holiday here in the United States. Most of us have listening to segments of his famous speech where he told the world about a dream he had. The main message of his famous speech is that racial inequalities needed to end and he was absolutely right. However, he also reminds us that there are things that are more important than success such as equal rights and treating each other with respect and kindness. If you somehow made it through school without watching the famous speech, we’ve got it linked above.

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11. Jim Carrey reminds us that even if you keep it safe, you can still fail so you might as well go big

Jim Carrey delivered a commencement speech at Maharishi University recently that went absolutely viral. You may know it as the one minute video that will change your life. They weren’t lying but they weren’t telling the whole truth because the speech was actually 28 minutes long. During the speech, Carrey talks about his father who wanted to be a comedian but decided to take the safe route and become an accountant. As it turns out, his father was laid off and his family ended up poor anyway. With that, Carrey tells us that you can still end up failing even if you play it safe so you might as well swing for the fences and do what you want to do.

12. Bill Murray teaches us that it’s the hard times that determine if someone really loves you

You may have heard the story about Bill Murray crashing someone’s bachelor party and delivering a speech. It turns out the speech was both short and fairly epic. During the speech, Bill Murray challenged the bachelors to travel around the world with the women they love and go to places that are difficult to go to and deal with. He says if you can get back to the United States and you still love each other, then you should get married right then and there. It’s a great message. It’s easy to love one another when times are good but do you still love each other when the times are bad? If so, that’s true love according to Bill Murray.

Final thoughts

Inspiration comes from everywhere and from anyone. There are a countless number of speeches and stories that can teach us an incalculable number of life lessons.

All these speeches almost share the same message: Don’t be afraid to fail and keep trying.

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If you also want to live your best life like the above successful people, this is what you should start doing:

You’ll Only Live Your Best Life Once You Step Out

At the end of the day, everything is inspirational. It’s just a matter of finding the message that we need to hear to change our lives.

Featured photo credit: Miguel Henriques via unsplash.com

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