Are books we select a window to our core self? If I asked you, what was the last book you read, would I know you better? I might or not. Alex Michaelide’s suspense, The Silent Patient, is more likely to be a repose from reality instead of a glimpse of the values you cherish. But bylines we add to our signatures in emails and other correspondences do offer an insight.
My byline, Girls compete with each other, Women empower one another is a reminder to my sisters (and myself) to support one another. Cathy’s byline is Dance like no one is watching!!! After years of watching her adult students’ self-conscious effort to dance, worrying we look ridiculous, she’s encouraging us to sing like nobody is listening, love like you can’t get hurt, to dance with abandonment.
What about favorite quotes? My present front-runner is “You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” Quotes do tell about our interior landscape. Like the North Star, quotes shine a light on traits we value in others and what we want to nurture in ourselves. Our value system determines our behavior and what we say. Viewed from this perch, humility is my guiding star. Sure, I waffle and wobble, but in time I resume my feeding of Humility and starving Aggression.
Humility, that low sweet root, from which all heavenly virtues shoot.Thomas Moore
Humility is a virtue people mistake as a sign of weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being humble means you dare to look at yourself and assess your strengths and weaknesses. It helps us know ourselves and make better decisions on how and who to spend our lives with.
One senior guy drives by you in his BMW Convertible, music loud, and his foot heavy on the gas pedal. The second walks his beagle at the park, remembers your name, and greets you with a smile. Given a choice to be acquainted with one, I’d be googling “dog breeds” for a conversation starter.
Humility builds character. A person lacking humility is arrogant. They see themselves as better than others. Their rights supersede their neighbors’ well-being. The Government has no right to tell me to wear a mask. It’s always about the “I” and never about “We.” Arrogant people have no room to grow because they don’t recognize their flaws or how they subject others to their negativity. Jimmy Carter and Nelson Mandela who lived growth-oriented lives are my superheroes.
Recognizing a human trait you hold dear is the first step, followed by adopting and living it. Kindergartners learn to share, play fair, and not hurt other people. Walking the walk is the hard part. Building a structure, especially one constructed with emotions, takes a lot of time. When a brick fractures, you don’t leave a hole. Instead, you get your pestle, more paste, and fill in the gap so hurricane winds can’t topple your new mindset. When I get irritated with people’s behavior, I remind myself that their self-focus is unconsciousness, complete identification with their mind, the root cause of suffering in the world. Then I go home and punch a pillow.
Humility is the essence of love and intelligence; it is not an achievement.Jiddu Krishnamurti
Knowing that there is always much to learn is humility. Humility is wisdom’s fertile ground. It knows that life is a never-ending journey of growth. Our best coaches are people who carry out their duties as teachers and students. Your baseball coach suggests a change in your swing technique to improve your performance. It is humility that let go of your preconceived ideas and trusts the coach.
Humility allows us to accept the struggles life brings. Getting frustrated and angry does not serve us. We grow when we meet obstacles with courage and honesty. Humbleness helps us navigate potholes and picks us up after a fall. At first glance, it seems counter intuitive, like hitting the golf ball depends on balance, not muscle might. Humble equates to flexibility and rebounding. Soft gives. Hard breaks.
My Renpho bathroom scale measures weight and calculates 12 other measures, including bone mass, skeletal muscle, and metabolic age. There is no thermometer to measure the amount of humility we possess. At least not for now. Will our grandkids have a tool to measure values they seek? It would make finding the right person and the best neighborhood easy. Choosing a place according to the degree of humility sounds fairytale-ish. But my mother would have said the same about knowing the gender of your unborn.
Without a bluetooth humility gauge, we do have instincts that serve us with reasonable accuracy. Listening with an open mind tells much. When a neighbor comments about the Hispanic builders on our street, “well, at least they speak English,” I hear racism. When a person drives through the neighborhood with a political sign larger than their back window, honking the horn for attention after being asked—for the good of the community— please refrain, I know, “it’s about me. Not we.”
Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.Thomas Merton
Of the two men mentioned earlier, assessing humility, sports car, and beagle, which man is more likely to ask for directions? To admit he needs help to get from A to B? Which one might relent to escort their wife to a dance class? Who is more likely to reflect on his behavior, to be open to the possibility of making mistakes, and set goals to grow?
Humility is defined as the feeling or attitude that you have no special importance that makes you better than others. Without humility, Jesus told us, we can’t enter the kingdom of heaven. Spiritual leaders teach the importance of expressing gratitude and forgiveness, pillars of humility that breed empathy, while arrogance yields division.
President Lincoln demonstrated humility along with dignity, eloquence, and integrity. He accepted his shortcomings and learned from them. Lincoln saw humility as a source of strength. Character matters. The quotes we repeat throughout history, the bylines we borrow, are like church bells and gongs, resounding truths through the ages.