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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 February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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