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The world has become divided.
People are losing sight of their responsibility to be kind to one another… to treat each other with respect and dignity.
Bad news fills our newsfeeds. Our neighbors are distant. Even households are divided because of conflicting beliefs, where there is no room for empathy.
It’s time for a change… and change has to start with us.
By teaching ourselves how to practice humility, our minds will be at peace with the world and those who live in it.
What is Humility?
Humility is the modest perception of one’s own significance.
A prime example of someone who practices humility would be a religious leader, someone who humbles themselves before their faith.
The general idea is to have a modest (not low) opinion of one’s self in order to better understand the world. In turn, this will open our eyes and hearts to developing empathy towards our neighbors.
You may have heard the phrase, “humility is not about thinking less of yourself, but of yourself less.” This really sums up the concept of humility.
Developing self-awareness is the first step in practicing yourself. Check out this video on how to to be self-aware and know yourself better:
One of the worst traits a human can have is that of pride. Not that you shouldn’t be proud of yourself, but never to the point of conceit.
Doing so prevents us from looking outside ourselves to see the bigger picture. Our neighbors are no less valuable than we are… and humility teaches this very concept.
Life can be frustrating at times, especially when we find it hard to understand why people make the choices they do… but that does not mean we should dismiss them.
By learning how to practice humility, we can begin to walk in our neighbor's footsteps… where we will soon come to the realization that our choices may simply differ from others. Our opinions are not better or worse than theirs.
Humility teaches us that all humans are equal. And this concept brings us more in tune with our spiritual side. We must look past our superiority and self-importance to find something greater than ourselves.
We all have the right to be heard.
Our lives are not undervalued or overvalued due to our race, beliefs, or nationality.
With humility, we look deep within ourselves to find that we are all one. This realization will bring us closer to empathy and loving our neighbor.
Of course, lowering our significance should not lower our self-esteem. We should value our self-worth and our belief system… but limit our self-importance.
If you practice humility you will have solid relationships that are filled with acceptance. Humility can offer a better way to live.
In this article, I’ve provided 15 tips on how to practice humility throughout your life.
15 Ways to Practice Humility throughout Your Life
1. Let Others Speak.
When having a conversation with a friend, it’s only natural to want to speak about your own life. However, do not make the conversation all about you.
Ask questions about how your friend’s life is going and what their opinions are about the world. Get their insights and opinions on life in general and what they value.
This will open your life up to new experiences and thoughts. It’s okay to talk slightly about yourself, but limit the sharing to a minimum as to not seem overbearing.
Tip: Ask your friend which book has changed their views of the world. You will be introduced to new ideas and your friend will enjoy speaking about a life-changing experience.
2. Do Not Pry.
Hearing gossip around the workplace, soccer field, school is inevitable. People enjoy drama that does not involve them. They see rumors as entertainment to fill their days.
Do not give in to this form of conversation. Gossip is damaging to the parties involved and people do not deserve to be talked about behind their backs.
People generally pick sides without knowing the full story. This gives off a sense of superiority over a meaningless situation.
Next time you hear someone engaging in gossip, try to turn the conversation around.
Tip: Sometimes trying to change conversation does not work well. Unfortunately, we cannot force someone to act upon our requests. It may be best to walk away from the conversation and come back at a suitable time.
3. Look On the Bright Side.
Many events will irritate us in this life. Something as simple as stubbing our toe on the door could put us in a bad mood for the rest of the day.
It’s best to practice restraint in these situations.
Anger is a normal emotion that should not be ignored… or the anger will grow.
The best way to deal with small annoyances is to accept that we are angry at the moment. Allow anger to wash over you… then take a few deep breathes and try to find humor in the situation.
It may seem ridiculous to laugh at your pain, but it will make you feel better. Laughter really is the best medicine… and if you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?
Tip: You can look forward to telling a story about the small inconvenience to make someone laugh, not at you, but with you.
4. Accept Being Disappointed.
When you don’t receive the big promotion you were counting on… you may feel like the universe is out to get you. Our view of the world will warp and make us believe that we will never have a win again.
Life will hand us many forms of disappointment throughout our lives.
It’s unfair to admit that we may never receive what we think we deserve, but if we accept this disappointment for what it is… we will feel less saddened as more letdowns come out way.
It’s okay to feel disappointment, but do not allow it to ruin your outlook on life. Do not allow it to triumph over your emotions or stop you from continuing to push forward.
Tip: If you become disappointed over an event – mentally mark down all the times you were granted a win. Whether that’s a free prize won at a raffle or even making your crush laugh. Disappointment does not measure your happiness. Remember all the times life gave you something special to help you accept that it will bring you disappointments.
5. Ignore the Negative Actions of Others.
People will make mistakes. Sometimes it’s hard to ignore the choices a loved one makes that turn into a terrible situation.
For instance, if a loved one gets into a minor car accident due to reckless driving, it may be difficult not to judge their actions. But ask yourself, “Why should I be the one to judge?”
We have all made mistakes that have either affected ourselves or others in our lives. There is no reason or sense to judge someone for their mistakes. “He who has never sinned shall cast the first stone.”
Would we want to be judged by our imperfections?
Do not allow superiority to escape yourself when hearing the mistakes of others. Instead, offer your support and care if they need it.
Tip: If someone is venting to you about the terrible mistakes they have made in their lives. Listen, and offer up your personal story about a mistake you have made. Make it short and be sure to point out that no one is perfect. It's hard not to judge someone, here is a helpful article that gives you tips to becoming less judgmental by Psychology Today.
6. It’s Okay if People Do Not Like You.
Many people feel an excessive need to be liked… more so today than with past generations.
With the overpowering network of social media, our lives can be measured with Likes and Hearts. When we do not get the attention we look for, it can be a devastating blow.
But if someone does not enjoy your presence, do not take it too seriously.
Do not seek their approval.
They may have their reasons, but those reasons do not need to be illuminated. And most of the time, it will have nothing to do with you.
Friendships may come and go, but that doesn’t mean the friendship was never valued.
Life brings new people in and out of it. It’s best to enjoy the time we have now with the people who do want to be around us… and help us grow as people.
Tip: When you post to social media make sure you do it for documentation of your life. Do not just post to receive Likes because it’s damaging to seek the approval of others and will only boost your ego or lower your self-esteem.
7. Back Down from a Useless Fight.
Arguments will happen between friends and love ones. It’s as natural as life.
To practice humility is to back down from a fight, even if you are in the right.
Anger is an unnecessary emotion… and it rises during passionate debates. Sometimes debates will turn into personal altercations and insults will be thrown. During this time, even if you are the one bringing logical arguments, it’s best to let the fight die.
There is no reason to allow your loved one to become angry over a heated conversation. This will help both parties recognize the absurdity of the situation.
Tip: Next time you witness a heated debate, try to interject and ask what the two parties see in common rather than what they see differently. Try to reach the common ground so that the debate can end.
8. Always Be Polite.
We have all been in situations where we encountered an unruly individual.
Maybe it is someone at work… or a rude customer yelling at the cashier while we are minding our own businesses trying to checkout.
Unfortunately, people can be rude and will try to provoke you. Involve you.
They will throw insults your way and do everything they can to get you to fight back. Do not allow this to happen!
Instead, continue to show politeness and kindness. This takes wind from their sails and allows for insight into the situation.
People will usually back down when shown human kindness.
Tell yourself this: in situations like these, the other person is likely going through something that we cannot understand. So it’s best to continue to show them empathy.
Tip: If someone is throwing insults at you unfairly, make this an opportunity to ask them questions about what is making them so angry and try to offer a solution. Give them space but also provide help. Let them know you recognize their frustration and want to help them uncover what is truly bothering them.
9. Be Grateful.
One of the hardest things to do is to be grateful for what we have.
Again… life can be cruel, disappointing and lonely at times.
But this should not disparage you from being appreciated for what you do have and the people in your life.
Take note of all the good things you have in your world… something as simple as a favorite sweater or the love of your family. There are always things in our lives to be thankful for and happy about.
Remembering this will keep you from becoming bitter about the downsides of life.
Tip: Make a list of all the things you are grateful for and pull out that list when life becomes a little too hard. This will keep you grounded and focused on how to practice humility.
10. Complement Others.
When was the last time you received a compliment?
When we receive gratitude for something we have done, or simply are complimented on our clothes, we feel noticed. We feel happy.
We should always give back that feeling so others can feel appreciated too. We have the power to make people feel good about themselves by simply using our words.
Recognize others' achievements and congratulate them for their accomplishments. We do not offer our sincerity to people enough in this world because we are too focused on trying to achieve our own goals.
Tip: Try to compliment at least one person a day. This will bring a smile to their faces and your own. Making people feel good about themselves should make you feel good as well.
11. Apologize for Your Mistakes
One of the most humble things we can do as humans is to admit when we are wrong.
This is a strong trait of humility that many people have yet to master. It’s very difficult to admit when we have made a mistake because we do not want to think so badly about ourselves.
But there is nothing wrong with admitting our faults and apologizing for them. Try your best to make apologies where they are due and others will appreciate your sincerity.
Tip: Remember that even if we master apologies we should not expect others to as well. If someone does not apologize when they should remember that we cannot control their actions and just hope that one day they will have the ability to apologize when they are wrong. Again, apologies can be challenging. Here is a helpful video from Jahan Kalantar who has three steps to a perfect apology.
12. Accept You’re Not Always Right
It takes real humility to admit when you’ve been wrong. Owning up to your failures is something that requires you to see yourself, without flinching and without becoming defensive. You are enough, failures and all. Humility helps you embrace your weakness, seeing that this is actually your strength and opportunity for growth.
Being right all the time leads to arrogance, an attitude of not wanting to learn, and habitually looking down on others. Instead, celebrate your mishaps and being wrong as opportunities to grow.
It reminds me of that quote by George Washington that says “We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.” So accept that you’re not always right by finding the lesson in where you went wrong. Learn from it, and move on (and remember, you are human).
Tip: Find one thing you did today that was “wrong.” Think about it, and if you have wronged someone, apologize and remind yourself that not being right all the time is a blessing.
13. Random Acts of Service
The humble person never sees an act of service as being beneath them. Help the cleaner at work to clean up before leaving work, knowing that you can help them get to their families a few minutes early this day.
There is nothing more humble and noble than rolling up your sleeves for an act of service. Oh, and leave your phone in your pocket, as taking selfies to show others how “great” you are doesn’t make this an act of humility.
Help without being seen because then you are doing it for the right reasons, not to show off how “wonderful” you are.
Tip: Find ways to help those in need with a random act of service and begin to serve others when opportunities present. If you can help, do so.
14. Be Gracious in Defeat
Falling, failing, and not succeeding can wake the arrogance monster in us all. Don’t let arrogance and feelings of superiority make you act aggressively or nastily when you lose out to someone else.
If you miss out on a promotion at work, congratulate the winner (aka your colleague), and allow yourself to feel happy and proud of them. Your chance will come, and others will celebrate for you.
A gracious spirit allows the sun to shine on all, knowing that the sun shines on them too. This goes hand in hand with being grateful.
Tip: When you lose out to someone else, ask yourself what you really lost. Did you lose something precious or gain a valuable lesson? Each defeat is an opportunity, so begin reprogramming your brain by asking “What did I gain from this experience?” and learn to let go of feeling like a loser and begin to feel like a learner instead.
15. Celebrate in Private
It’s so easy to want to celebrate in public and flaunt our victories, showing off to those who can see us. Yet, celebrating in private builds integrity, creates a humble spirit, and prepares you to encourage others instead of focusing on your own success.
Learn to value the process of success and not the actual victory so you may remain humble and in touch with what matters – your hard work and dedication. Celebrating in public is about others, not about you, which is why a private celebration is much more meaningful.
Tip: When you enjoy a victory, ask yourself whether celebrating with someone is about encouraging them or puffing up your own self-importance. If the latter, then cancel the celebrations and refocus on the real victory – what you can do for others.
Final Thoughts on How to Practice Humility
Humility will bring about a better way of communicating with your neighbors and loved ones.
It will make you happier, as you begin to recognize and empathize with the world outside of yourself.
You will become less angry about minor inconveniences and become more comfortable in accepting disappointment.
Humility will allow you the growth you need to become a happier person in a world that is filled with ups and downs. Highs and lows.
Humility relies heavily on mindful communication with others. By practicing humility, you will become more grounded and begin to enjoy life more than ever.
And if you're looking for more articles about mindfulness be sure to check out these blog posts:
- Humbleness VS Humility: 5 Basic Differences
- Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction: A Simple Guide
- When Is the Best Time of Day to Meditate? A Simple Guide
Finally, if you want a simple way to reduce your stress and anxiety, then try writing these 35 mindfulness journaling prompts to live more in the present moment.