I can remember my mom telling me from a young age to stay humble. As a child, I didn’t appreciate this advice. As an adult, I realize humility is the antidote for harmful pride and the key to finding happiness.
Showing humility helps you purposefully put the needs of others as a priority in your life. And when you consistently show humility, your relationships thrive and you experience a sense of deep fulfillment.
This article will teach you how you can show humility in your day-to-day life. And with a bit of guidance, showing humility can start to feel like second nature.
What is humility?
Before we get into how we can show humility, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about its definition. There are a lot of definitions out there regarding humility.
Some people think it means belittling yourself to make others feel good. But this isn’t true humility.
Humility is an authentic awareness that your needs are no more important than the next person’s. By recognizing this, you can act from a place of love and generosity by putting others’ needs first.
The research argues that humility is dependent on your view of yourself and your view of your relationship with others. This makes sense to me.
You have to have a positive relationship with yourself in order to not feel the need for a constant ego boost. And if you have a positive view of others, you want to show humility toward them.
To me, humility means being genuinely considerate of others’ needs. I also think it means abandoning arrogant pride. And trust me, it’s not my second nature.
My human nature is to think about myself and to seek out external validation. But for many years of my life, this has left me feeling empty inside fighting off depression.
What are the benefits of showing humility?
So why should we show humility? Is it really worth it to ditch your pride and put others first? The research certainly seems to think so.
One study found that individuals who showed more humility were better able to start romantic relationships. They were also better able to maintain a romantic relationship.
Another study found that individuals who emphasized humility had a greater “love of life” with lower levels of anxiety. They also had higher levels of general psychological well-being.
It wasn’t too many years ago that I was dealing with some serious depression. During this time, I started to realize that much of my depression was coming from focusing on myself.
I wanted more external validation from the world. I strive for money and recognition from my peers. I get that it sounds selfish, but I think at some level many of us want that.
It wasn’t until I stopped thinking so highly of myself and my needs 24/7 that I was able to find hope.
It took therapy, medication, and self-healing to realize that my purpose in life was never about me. By focusing on helping others, I was able to lift myself out of the depression.
If you’re struggling with anxiety or depressive thoughts, showing humility may be a good place to start. From a space of humility, you can start to find your joy again.
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5 ways to show humility
If you want to know how to kick harmful pride to the curb, then you’re in the right place. These 5 tips will help you show humility in any circumstance.
1. Listen more than you speak
If you take nothing else from this article, please take this one tip. Humility means listening more than you speak.
When you listen more than you speak, you are communicating that the other person’s voice is valuable.
I used to be the person who was quick to interrupt and talk about myself a lot. But you start to pick up that no one appreciates this after enough conversations.
When you listen authentically without interrupting, the other person is getting the chance to be the priority.
And you will find that some of the best conversations come from listening and not speaking.
2. Show curiosity about others
This tip goes along with tip number 1. Humility means being relentlessly curious about others.
Think about the last conversation you had. Were you asking probing questions to the other person that got them to talk more?
I’ve had to get intentional about practicing this one. My default mode is to go back to talking about myself.
But just today I was talking with a patient about their occupation. Typically I would start talking about my job. Luckily, I’ve been practicing this tip.
Instead, I asked a slew of follow-up questions about their job. This got this person to light up and tell me all sorts of stories.
It also helped us connect better so that they realized I was interested in more than just their physical therapy needs.
Stop redirecting the attention back to you. Keep the spotlight on others and ask gobs of questions. You will realize the people around you are endlessly fascinating.
3. Thank others often
Being humble means saying thank you. This includes saying thank you for the small things in life.
And make it even better by adding their name while looking them in the eye. This acknowledges that you see them and what they are doing for you as important.
I make it a point to do this at restaurants, coffee shops, and grocery stores. There are so many little moments where we need to show humility by saying thank you.
Just the other day I was out to eat with my husband. The waitress brought me an extra napkin. I looked her in the eye and said “thank you”.
Because in moments like those, I realize someone is going out of their way to help me. Even though I’m the paying customer, my needs are no more important than the waitress’ needs.
But she chose to make my needs a priority. And the least I can do is say thank you for that.
4. Admit when you are wrong
I have yet to meet a human who likes to do this one. But it’s critical for showing true humility.
Admitting when you’re wrong communicates that you realize you are an imperfect human who makes mistakes.
I remember in grad school I was working on a group project. In the project, we had to put together some facts about a specific pathology.
I can’t even remember the exact pathology. But I remember arguing with a groupmate about her information being wrong. The discussion got heated and we were both sticking to our guns.
Later that day, I came across some information that indicated I was blatantly wrong. If I’m honest, I was bummed to be wrong.
It just goes to show this whole humility thing is still a work in progress.
But fortunately, I had the good sense to apologize and admit that I was wrong. This made all the difference in the cohesiveness of the group during the project going forward.
And because of this, I am still friends with that classmate. Had I not admitted when I was wrong and held onto my pride, I may have lost a friend and failed an assignment.
5. Consider others’ needs often
You may be confused by this tip because it sounds like the definition of humility. But you have to practice considering others’ needs often in order for it to become a habit.
There are a couple of ways you can do this. I sometimes start my day off by asking myself this question.
How can I serve at least one person today? I take a minute to reflect on the needs of the people close to me in my life.
And I write down one way that I can do something for that person. It’s an actionable way to start my day off by thinking of others.
It’s probably worthwhile to ask yourself this question or some variation of it throughout the day. With time, it will be more instinctual to think of others before thinking of yourself.
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Showing humility is not human nature. And it’s certainly not an overnight process. By using the tips from this article, you can intentionally practice humility in a way that positively transforms your experience of life. And when you think less of yourself and more of others, you’ve found a foolproof recipe for happiness.
Do you consider yourself to be good at showing humility? Or is it totally against your nature? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!