I can’t say I’ve heard that word too often in my life, especially considering there’s no actual word for it in my native tongue.
Let’s just say, after making some mistakes last year, I stumbled on the concept harder than expected.
And realized that for years, I’ve struggled with it.
In fact, I still struggle with it, and I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon.
However, lately, I’ve been feeling increasingly at peace, and something tells me that has come largely from practicing humility.
There’s a quote from my favourite series that stuck with me on the topic
“Pride is not the opposite of shame, but its source. True humility is the only antidote to shame.” — Uncle Iroh
I can pinpoint certain times in my life where I’ve been told to be “humble”, but considering the Russian word for humble also means “timid”, I wanted to be anything but.
My first encounter with humility set an inaccurate perception of it as a whole.
For years I thought that the people who boasted and were loud about their achievements were the ones I should emulate and grow up to be like.
And yet, it was encounters with people like that that would lead me to consumerism, the desire to “hustle”, discontent, and lack of compassion for those around me, and myself.
For some time I thought that everyone should strive to travel the world, live in exotic places, be a digital nomad and that you had to work ridiculously hard and have no relationships in order to achieve that “ideal” life.
My first solo travel trip was to Romania, hardly the exotic faraway country. In fact, it was a short flight away, and yet I went there because something told me to.
And there were the people that showed me humility, that would then put me on the path of rediscovering it for myself.
The pressing question I had was “How exactly do you practice humility? What do you physically need to do?”
And the only thing I could find was a line similar to “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” Which at the time, made no sense, and honestly? Still doesn’t.
I then turned to researching ego, through Eckhart Tolle, Ryan Holiday, and the Stoics, and only then did I begin to grasp what is true humility.
And so out of that trial and error, I have a vague, but an understanding of what humility is to me.
And it starts with self-acceptance.
“To accept your faults and shortcomings, on the same level as your achievements.”
Humility, to me, is being calmly and ever so peacefully at home with yourself. When you can look at your failures and mistakes without self-flagellation, and look at your achievements, without thinking that you’re the greatest being to walk this earth.
Humility is understanding that you are not the creator of your art, you are simply a vehicle that something bigger has chosen to express itself through.
Humility is understanding that you are not your mistakes, but you are also not your achievements.
Humility is accepting that every single person you meet knows something you don’t, and no matter what your egoic mind wants to shout at you, you are no better and no worse than they are.
All of this sounds just as vague and spiritual as the quotes I originally encountered. If I were to tell myself a year ago what to do to have more humility, what would it be?
I’d tell myself to go read Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth” and Ryan Holiday’s “Ego is The Enemy”, both of which are great introductions and have a far better explanation.
I’d tell myself to be more compassionate, towards myself, but especially towards others.
I’d tell myself to get out of my head during conversations, away from what “I” think of the person, and to be more focused on what is being said and communicated.
I’d tell myself to have more interest in the world around me, and the world inside me, but not my head.
I’d tell myself to practice being truly present because your ego can’t exist in the present moment.
I’d tell myself to learn to listen, and through listening, practice being present, for people, for myself, for the world.
I’d tell myself to be kinder, and try to imagine what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes.
I’d tell myself to be mindful of what I say. Many a time have I caught myself boasting.
I’d tell myself to love unconditionally because from what I’ve learned is that expectations hinder your self-acceptance and your acceptance of others, which in turn hinders your humility.
There’s a lot of things I would say to myself, and I don’t know if any of these will help you, the person watching. Another thing I’ve learned is that every lesson we learn is very individual to us. No one journey is the same, so no individual should be either. My only hope is that by making these videos I might help someone answer some questions they’re struggling with, or at least share a different perspective, like so many others have before me
In all honesty, I don’t think I’ll ever stop struggling with arrogance, or my ego, but I’m willing to continue strengthening humility, in order to one day, hopefully, tip the scale.