Humility is a wonderful quality. People are definitely attracted to humility and often repelled by the opposite. If we can learn to value humility, we will gain real joy and improve our relationships with others tremendously. But, what is humility? What does it mean to be humble?
Giving joy to others. This is a striking definition of humility. We simply choose and attitude that helps to give joy to other people. It means avoiding meanness and jealousy, but seeking to help others to be happy.
“…True humility is something totally different; it is the feeling of oneness. Humility means giving joy to others. If you have not established or cannot establish your inner oneness with others, then you can try to make them feel that they are as important as you, if not more so. “
- Sri Chinmoy “Does humility mean taking a back seat” – A God-lover heaven-life part 1
Bringing others forward. Real humility will make others feel good. It requires us to always value the achievements and contributions of others. Even if they have unfortunate experiences or less talent, we will still try to bring them forward and make them feel valued. This is very important because when we try to sincerely value others, we reduce our own feelings of self-importance and ego.
Modesty. Taking a back seat is not necessary humility. Sometimes, we make a big fuss of taking the back seat – almost unconsciously, we are wanting to show others that we are being humble; we try to make a display of our humility. But, sometimes, it might be necessary to stand in the limelight. The important thing is not to see it as a show of superiority. We can feel part of an integral team, but with someone having to be the figurehead. Humility means we are willing to play many different roles, each role with the same detachment and modesty.
Real tests of humility
- Be equal in your affection. It is easy to bring people we like to the fore, but humility means we need to be equally fair in our treatment. We need to be willing to bring anyone to the fore, even those who we may not instinctively like. Remember the test of humility – can you give joy to others – that includes those whom you really might not want to.
- To take praise and blame with calmness. This is a real test of humility. If we are blamed, we shouldn’t make a great show of remorse and guilt. We can just quietly resolve to make the best efforts to avoid a similar situation in the future. Equally, if things go well, perhaps we can take time to appreciate our good luck or the contributions of others. Humility means we recognise the world doesn’t revolve around us. If something goes well, it is the achievement of many. If things go badly, we are not wholly responsible either. The only thing we have to work on is our attitude. Again, humility is about trying to give others joy. If we burden ourselves with remorse and become depressed, we make it difficult for others around us. An attitude of humility, means we need to stay positive, even if our ego takes a battering.
- Recognise you might need to take many different roles. Sometimes, we want to pigeon hole ourselves. We might think we are ‘above’ a ‘demeaning job’ like cleaning the toilets. Equally, we might thing we are ‘below’ a leadership role. Humility, means that we might have to accept either role. Never feel superior or inferior to a job. Many spiritual Masters have given their disciples so called ‘demeaning job’s’ a reminder that if we can do the simplest job with care and pride, we can make great progress. But, equally, if you are thrust forward into the limelight – remember the test of humility – can I give joy to others? If you have talents or capacity, then you are in a position to be of service and give joy to others. Hiding these talents out of a false sense of humility will prevent others gaining the joy.
See, on how many occasions you can give joy to others, and you may be pleasantly surprised that you find joy yourself.