The Art of Humility

Andrew R. Warnecke, MA, LPC

Humble: Marked by modesty in behavior, attitude, or spirit; not arrogant or prideful.

I feel that humility is one of the most important ingredients to a happy and meaningful life. I have been asking colleagues, patients, family, and friends their interpretation of this word. I have found that the most common response has been confidence. Humility requires confidence. I have a quote that I often use that “true humility is the ability to make someone else feel important and special without feeling diminished yourself.” I am a big proponent of emotional intelligence and maturity, and I am constantly working on increasing the EQ (emotional quotient) in myself and my patients. I think the simplest definition for emotional intelligence is the ability to deal constructively with reality. Humility plays a big role in our ability to deal constructively with reality.

We have all heard the quotes “If the world gives you lemons, then make lemonade,” and “You can’t adjust the wind but you can adjust the sails.” As simple as this seems, it really isn’t in reality. We are exposed at a young age to the concepts that we don’t really measure up and that we are “less than” in many ways. There is always someone prettier, smarter, stronger, faster, cooler, richer… This is what makes it so hard to be humble. I have a lot of successful friends, and I must admit that it is sometimes hard to celebrate their success when it far surpasses mine in some ways. I think if we are totally honest with ourselves that we envy those that may appear to have something that we don’t, especially if we want it really bad.

One of the ways I have learned to help with this in myself and others is to use the idea that all human beings are a greater whole, like a jigsaw puzzle. We are all different shapes, sizes, and colors, but no piece is any more important than the other. In fact, I like to say the piece that may be the most important for a time is the one that you can’t find because it is lost under some piece of furniture or something. So the battle to feel good enough continues, and I have found that if you can find yourself to be unprecedentedly unique (No two human beings are the same. There never has been one of you, and there never will again be one of you.), then you on your way to stopping the game of comparing yourself with others. Your EQ will rise, and you will start to develop more and more humility.

I love it when I can truly enjoy someone else’s success and feel good about who I am at the same time. We can all learn to celebrate ourselves and each other; they are not mutually exclusive. I challenge everyone who reads this to go out of their way this holiday season to tell someone that they are wonderful, beautiful, talented, or fabulous. As cheesy as it sounds, I promise that over time you will start to see how important and special you are. I know that we as a culture need to improve our humility levels and be more emotionally intelligent as a whole. Look and find the good things about each other and make it a habit to tell each other because YOU will benefit the most in the long run. Have a safe and loving holiday and let the humility flow!