Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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:

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

More by this author

7 Reasons Why Humility is the Beginning of Wisdom

Trending in Communication

1 How to Not Be Sad When It Feels Like Everything Is Going Wrong 2 The Gentle Art of Saying No for a Less Stressful Life 3 7 Reasons Why You’re Feeling Restless and Unmotivated 4 10 Things to Do If You’re Feeling Hopeless About Your Future 5 How to Be a Good Listener (And a Better Communicator)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on November 19, 2020

The Gentle Art of Saying No for a Less Stressful Life

The Gentle Art of Saying No for a Less Stressful Life

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments—you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time. That’s why the art of saying no can be a game changer for productivity.

Requests for your time are coming in all the time—from family members, friends, children, coworkers, etc. To stay productive, minimize stress, and avoid wasting time, you have to learn the gentle art of saying no—an art that many people have problems with.

What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger, or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

However, it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here’s how to stop people pleasing and master the gentle art of saying no.

1. Value Your Time

Know your commitments and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it.

Be honest when you tell them that: “I just can’t right now. My plate is overloaded as it is.” They’ll sympathize as they likely have a lot going on as well, and they’ll respect your openness, honesty, and attention to self-care.

2. Know Your Priorities

Even if you do have some extra time (which, for many of us, is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time?

Advertising

For example, if my wife asks me to pick up the kids from school a couple of extra days a week, I’ll likely try to make time for it as my family is my highest priority. However, if a coworker asks for help on some extra projects, I know that will mean less time with my wife and kids, so I will be more likely to say no. 

However, for others, work is their priority, and helping on extra projects could mean the chance for a promotion or raise. It’s all about knowing your long-term goals and what you’ll need to say yes and no to in order to get there. 

You can learn more about how to set your priorities here.

3. Practice Saying No

Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word[1].

Sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.

4. Don’t Apologize

A common way to start out is “I’m sorry, but…” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important when you learn to say no, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm and unapologetic about guarding your time.

When you say no, realize that you have nothing to feel bad about. You have every right to ensure you have time for the things that are important to you. 

Advertising

5. Stop Being Nice

Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. However, if you erect a wall or set boundaries, they will look for easier targets.

Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.

6. Say No to Your Boss

Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss—they’re our boss, right? And if we start saying no, then we look like we can’t handle the work—at least, that’s the common reasoning[2].

In fact, it’s the opposite—explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.

7. Pre-Empting

It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting,

“Look, everyone, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects, and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”

This, of course, takes a great deal of awareness that you’ll likely only have after having worked in one place or been friends with someone for a while. However, once you get the hang of it, it can be incredibly useful.

Advertising

8. Get Back to You

Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, try saying no this way:

“After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.”

At least you gave it some consideration.

9. Maybe Later

If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say,

“This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].”

Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands. If you need to continue saying no, here are some other ways to do so[3]:

Advertising

Saying no the healthy way

    10. It’s Not You, It’s Me

    This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often, the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time.

    Simply say so—you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization—but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true, as people can sense insincerity.

    The Bottom Line

    Saying no isn’t an easy thing to do, but once you master it, you’ll find that you’re less stressed and more focused on the things that really matter to you. There’s no need to feel guilty about organizing your personal life and mental health in a way that feels good to you.

    Remember that when you learn to say no, isn’t about being mean. It’s about taking care of your time, energy, and sanity. Once you learn how to say no in a good way, people will respect your willingness to practice self-care and prioritization. 

    More Tips for a Less Stressful Life

    Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next