Humbleness VS Humility: 5 Basic Differences

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When you're on a quest for personal growth, you'll want to make sure to take the ideals of humbleness vs humility into consideration. Both of these qualities are similar and encompass selflessness and modesty, which are admirable in any human being.

I'm sure you'll agree that if you think about character development, both humility and humbleness have very distinct characteristics. Those characteristics are necessary in your personal and professional development.

In this article, we'll define both qualities, provide the five basic differences, and give you examples of humbleness and humility to help you better determine how to embrace these characteristics on your own life's journey. 

Before we delve into comparing humbleness to humility, let's provide a good clear picture by defining each separately. But first, did you know that both humility and humbleness have their Latin origins in the word “humilis,” which means “low.”

As you can imagine, this means these attributes are closely intertwined. 

What is Humbleness? 

According to, humbleness is the state or quality of lacking pride or arrogance or in being modest. It also refers to the quality of feeling you are not more important than anyone else and that you are courteously respectful.

To help define humbleness further, we've put together several examples of people who have demonstrated humbleness. 

Mother Teresa

A beloved humanitarian across the world, Mother Teresa was the epitome of humbleness.

Although she was a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, she did not glory in accolades bestowed upon her but rather continued to dedicate her life to what she considered her calling: serving India's poor populations. Her humbleness showed in all that she did and was evident to those who knew her and knew of her.

Mother Teresa had compassion for the impoverished, living in the same humble conditions as the people she served. No task was too menial for her to perform for other human beings. She was often seen comforting those at death's door, washing the feet of the sick, and caring for children who had been abandoned.

Mother Teresa believed in the inherent worth and dignity of every human being, and she demonstrated this daily, inspiring others to follow her example of humbleness in serving the less fortunate.

Mahatma Gandhi

As the leader of a nonviolent movement in India against British colonial rule, Mahatma Gandhi exemplified humbleness. His modesty was evident despite being hailed as the Father of the Nation.

He demonstrated humbleness by living a very simple lifestyle. He was a true minimalist, renouncing material possessions. Even his clothing demonstrated his lack of personal pride, as he wore only traditional Indian attire.

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Mahatma Gandhi

He treated others with respect and courtesy, regardless of their social status. Gandhi's commitment to the service of others, coupled with nonviolence, inspired people across the globe. A quote attributed to Gandhi sums up his humble attitude to serving others, “Service which is rendered without joy helps neither the servant nor the served.” 

Gandhi's interactions with people from all walks of life are evidence of his humble lifestyle.

Nelson Mandela

As South Africa's first black president and born into a royal family, Nelson Mandela showed remarkable humbleness during his life.

As an anti-apartheid activist, he fought against injustice. Even after 27 years of imprisonment, he sought reconciliation rather than revenge upon his release. Mandela believed in the importance of forgiveness and demonstrated and encouraged it in his deeply divided nation.

He found no shame in listening and learning from others. Mandela sought out diverse opinions and perspectives and found value in collective decision-making. He was a true leader in that he led by a humble example and often acknowledged the contributions of others.

Although he passed away in 1999, many people around the world are still inspired by the humble lifestyle he led.

What is Humility? 

According to, humility is meekness, lowliness, and submissiveness. It is the opposite of pride. A person who exhibits humility is known for having a modest opinion of themselves. 

To help define humility further, we've put together several examples of people who have demonstrated humility. 

J.K. Rowling

Well-known ‘Harry Potter' author J.K. Rowling shows humility even with her monumental success. Despite her incredible wealth, Rowling remains grounded in humility about her success.

She is quick to express gratitude to the readers that support her journey to fame. Rowling is not shy about sharing her struggles and the setbacks she encountered along the way.

She exhibits humility in reminding others that failure is a step on the path toward success. Rowling also makes a positive impact across the globe as she advocates for charitable causes near and dear to her heart. Rowling's authentic humility, coupled with her confidence,  inspires both aspiring writers and readers of her work.

Reverend Billy Graham

During his life and ministry, the Reverend Billy Graham showed remarkable humility. Most would agree that Graham is one of the most influential Christian evangelists of his time. Throughout his life, he demonstrated great modesty, showing a deep sense of humility even as he became more successful and well-known.

Graham was adamant in attributing his personal success to the grace of God rather than to himself. The Southern preacher focused solely on spreading God's message. In his own humility, he brought people closer to their faith while treating them with kindness and respect. 

Albert Einstein

Recognized as one of the greatest scientific minds in history, Albert Einstein was known for his humility as well as his brilliance. His contributions to physics, including the theory of relativity, were unprecedented.

However, Einstein remained remarkably modest despite his success. He gave credit to the work of others who came before him and laid the foundation for him to succeed.

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Albert Einstein

His humility was evidenced even more by his commitment to education. He appreciated students and scientists at all levels that engaged with him. His humility was shown in the ways he fostered a spirit of learning within others.

Humbleness vs Humility: 5 Basic Differences

Now that we've defined humbleness and humility and provided real-life examples, let's go deeper into these attributes as we highlight five basic differences.

Plus, you'll find there are some similarities as well. 

Difference #1. The Beginning of Humbleness vs. Humility

With humbleness and humility so closely related, we need to reach back to their origins to discover their differences.

Humbleness stems from a sense of low regard for oneself and a personal sense of modesty. There is an avoidance of arrogance. When you encounter someone exhibiting humbleness, you'll most likely notice they downplay their abilities and success.

On the other hand, humility comes from a place of a person understanding their strengths and weaknesses, plus they appreciate the contributions of other people, whether on a personal or professional level. 

Difference #2. Impact on Relationships

Whether you're involved in a personal or professional relationship, the qualities you exhibit can affect that relationship either positively or negatively.

Humbleness can create a barrier in relationships if the person is continually self-deprecating. Fostering a healthy relationship takes balance, and while some humbleness is good, too much of it can be off-putting.

On the other hand, humility can bring a relationship closer as the person encourages others to join in communication respectfully. 

Difference #3. Strength in Vulnerability

Because humbleness may stem from insecurity, it may limit the reality and perception of a person's strength in vulnerability. A person's growth may be hindered by their unwillingness to take risks due to anxiousness or a lack of confidence.

Alternately, humility uses being vulnerable as a source of strength. Both attributes acknowledge limitations, but humility helps the person cultivate resilience and a growth mindset in spite of their vulnerability.

Difference #4. Focus of Humbleness vs. Humility

How a person sees themselves relates to humbleness as they self-reflect. Humbleness often leads to avoiding drawing attention to oneself, which may or may not lead to an unhealthy self-perception.

In contrast, humility goes beyond personal introspection to external interactions with others. It adds how the person treats people on a personal or professional level, focusing on respect and kindness. A perk to having humility is that it promotes active listening and provides support when necessary.

Difference #5. Authentic Recognition

Humbleness alone can prevent a person from recognizing their achievements and accepting praise from others. They may feel uncomfortable when someone praises their success and find it embarrassing, particularly if they are an introvert

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Humbleness stems from a sense of low regard for oneself and a personal sense of modesty.

Humility encourages authenticity when it comes to self-expression while still appreciating the efforts of others. A person with humility can gracefully accept compliments and give compliments easily to others for their success and achievements.

Humbleness vs Humility: Which is Best?

As you can see, there are advantages to fostering both humbleness and humility. When we ask ourselves which is best, we think humility wins out… sort of. The ties between both humbleness and humility run deep, and the attributes overlap, which means they are not mutually exclusive.

Still, humility does add that external quality of respect and care for others that helps foster healthy relationships. Some may say that humbleness is needed to maintain a down-to-earth perspective, while others may counter that humility is important in making genuine connections.

When it comes to determining which is best, both humbleness and humility can coexist. Not only that, but they can also complement each other.

When you possess both, we think you'll find they create a more balanced and grounded approach to living your life.

Final Thoughts on Humbleness vs Humility

When you think of personal and professional growth, cultivating both humbleness and humility can lead to a more positive impact on the world around you.

Embracing both traits allows you to appreciate your own strengths and limitations while valuing and respecting others, creating a harmonious and compassionate approach to life.

Remember, cultivating humbleness and humility is an ongoing process. It requires you to self-reflect, then commit and connect with others on a deeper level. Together, we can create a world where humbleness and humility flourish, paving the way for greater understanding, compassion, and harmony.

A good place to start is by checking out our article on the 11 Ways to Practice Humility Throughout Your LifeThere's no better time to start than today and, as Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

And if you're looking for more resources on good personality traits, be sure to check out these blog posts:

Finally, if you want to identify YOUR personality type, then take one of these 11 personality tests to better understand what makes you tick.

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