When you hear the word “humility,” what image first comes to mind? I immediately see a bowed head. But you might think that portrays a lack of self-esteem or a gesture of shame. I see it differently. I see a bowed head as a leaning in towards another and as a symbol of respect. In that brief instant, you are taking the focus off yourself and signaling to the other person that you see them and that you honour them – not for something that they’ve done, but just because they are a fellow traveler on this great big journey of life. They too have had their own share of struggles and for that instant you see their humanity. That in itself is worthy of respect.
Are there people in your life who have a hard time admitting when they’re wrong? Are you one of them? I know it’s not easy to swallow your pride and come clean when you’ve made a misstep or defended a position that was later found out to be false. We’ve all done it. That’s what makes us human. But when you can rise above your ego and show genuine humility when exposed, then you are actually showing your strength of character and not weakness, as some might attest. You see, to be honest first to yourself and then to others, demonstrates that you are secure enough within yourself to accept and love yourself no matter what. To thine own self be true, as they say.
I’m going out on a limb here. All month I’ve been sharing my thoughts about the subject of truth, how to interpret it and how our perception of truth adapts over time when our beliefs shift. But some truths are universal. This is what I mean. As this is the last blog dedicated to the joy habit about truth from Chapter 34 of my book Being Joy™, I wanted to cap it off by talking about truths that we can all agree are legitimate, like the sun and the moon. We see them and accept that they are real. We may give different meanings to them based on our spirituality or scientific understanding, but nevertheless, we agree that they exist.
You’ve likely heard the question: “Why do we have two ears and only one mouth?” You guessed it. Because we’re supposed to listen more and talk less. But we love to tell our own story. And many of us are only too willing to share our opinions whether asked for or not. For some reason, we feel compelled to defend them at all cost! Like I wrote in last week’s post, truths are based upon beliefs that we accept. But that doesn’t mean that my truth is yours or that your truth is mine. We all come to this place in our own way. So why do we think we need to convince others of our truth? Are we really only trying to convince ourselves? Instead, we should, like the opening quote suggests, that we let our truth loose as it will defend itself. It will find its own audience of those who share the same belief. Back to why we have two ears and one mouth.
How do you define truth? There are as many definitions and theories about the word truth as there are probably “truths” out there. Although, there is one that really struck with me: truth – a fact or belief that is accepted as truth. What a profound way of looking at it. There are two words in that definition that interest me most. The first is “belief” and the second is “accepted”. Whose belief? Accepted by who? Since this month’s theme is based on the joy habit of - Be Truthful - from Chapter 34 in my book Being Joy™, I want to explore the consequences of untruths a bit further. You see, the thing to consider is this. What happens when your belief about something changes, either because of a shift in your perspective or new knowledge that comes to light? Are you willing to accept a new truth or hang on to old ways of looking at things because you feel safer in that space? And what are the consequences of either?
Why is it that speaking our truth is so difficult? Is it that we are so conditioned to justify the little white lies we tell ourselves and others as if our soul doesn’t know the difference? But we know. And we usually feel ashamed afterwards. Shame and guilt are two of the most toxic emotions. They disempower and steal our joy. So how about we change that. How about we adopt a new habit of truth telling. And it needs to start with telling the truth to yourself. No one is perfect. So, there are likely a few things about yourself that you’re not all that crazy about. Here’s a simple activity that I include in Chapter 34 – Be Truthful from my book Being Joy™ that might help.