Humility is an important virtue. Learning to be humble is of paramount importance in most religions and spiritual traditions, and humility can also help you develop as a person and enjoy richer relationships with others. Here are twelve tips to help you become humble:
1) Appreciate your talents. Being humble doesn’t mean you can’t feel good about yourself. Self-esteem is not the same as pride. Both come from a recognition of your own talents and qualities, but pride, the kind of pride that leans toward arrogance, is rooted in insecurity about yourself. Think about the abilities you have, and be thankful for them.
2) Understand your limitations. No matter how talented you are, there is almost always somebody who can do something better than you. Look to those who are better and consider the potential for improvement. Even if you are the best in the world at doing one thing, there are always other things that you cannot do, and may never be able to do.
3) Don’t judge yourself or others. We judge others because it’s a lot easier than looking at ourselves. Unfortunately, it’s also completely unproductive and, in many cases, harmful. Judging others causes strife in relationships, and it prevents new relationships from forming. Perhaps even worse, it prevents us from trying to improve ourselves.
4) Stop comparing. It’s nearly impossible to be humble when we’re striving to be the “best” or trying to be better than others. Instead, try describing things more objectively. Let go of meaningless, simplistic comparisons, and you’ll be able to enjoy doing things without worrying about whether you’re better or worse at them than others.
5) Appreciate the talents and qualities of others. Challenge yourself to look at others and appreciate the things they can do and, more generally, to appreciate people for who they are. Understand that everybody is different and relish the chance you have to experience different people.
6) Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Part of being humble is understanding that you will make mistakes. Understand this, and understand that everyone else makes mistakes, and you will have a heavy burden lifted off of you. Any one person can know only the smallest bits and pieces of the tremendous knowledge that has accumulated over the past. What’s more, each person experiences only a sliver of the present, and knows little to nothing of the future.
7) Don’t be afraid to defer to others’ judgment. It’s easy to acknowledge that you make mistakes and that you’re not always right. Somewhat more difficult however, is the ability to acknowledge that in many cases other people—even people who disagree with you—may be right. Of course, if you know that a particular course of action is wrong, you shouldn’t follow it. On closer inspection, though, you may realize that you don’t actually know this as often as you think you do.
8 ) Rejuvenate your sense of wonder. Because we, as individuals, know practically nothing, you’d expect that we’d be awestruck more often than we typically are. Children have this sense of wonder, and it inspires the curiosity that makes them such keen observers and capable learners. Do you really know how your microwave works? Could you build one on your own? What about your car? Your brain? A rose? The jaded, “I’ve seen it all” attitude makes us feel far more important than we are. Be amazed like a child and you will not only be humbled; you will also be readier to learn.
9) Seek guidance. Contemplate moral texts and proverbs about humility. Pray for it, meditate on it, do whatever it takes to get your attention off yourself. If you’re not into spirituality, consider the scientific method. Science requires humility. It requires that you let go of your preconceived notions and judgments and understand that you don’t know as much as you think you do.
10) Think about yourself under different circumstances. Much of what we give ourselves credit for is actually a product of luck. Suppose you graduate from an Ivy League university at the top of your class. You definitely deserve a lot of credit for the many hours of studying and for your perseverance. Consider though, that there is someone just as intelligent and hardworking as you who had less supportive parents, grew up in a different place, or just had the bad luck to make one wrong choice in life.
11) Help others. A big part of being humble is respecting others, and part of respecting others is helping them. Treat other people as equals and help them because it is the right thing to do. It’s been said that when you can help others who cannot possibly help you in return, you have learned humility.
12) Remain teachable. Find people you aspire to be like in certain areas, and ask them to mentor you. Under mentorship; good boundary setting, confidentiality and discernment is required. As soon as you cross the line of being ‘unteachable’, bring yourself back down to earth again.