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What does humility look like to you?

“Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people…” ~ William Temple

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.

To help reinforce my point, here is the rest of William Temple’s quote from this post’s opener:

“Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself at all.”

I have been fortunate to witness great acts of humility throughout my life. And if you stop for a moment, you will observe the grace within each experience as well.

For example, watch the humility that the canine species show when they bow to the pack leader and elders. Or the trees that bow their branches to protect the new growth beneath. Or the birds who feed their young ones first – a humble gesture of protection and preservation that most humans also demonstrate.

Witness the numerous acts of generosity of spirit that are demonstrated, particularly during this season of giving. There are plenty of charities that benefit from the humility of its supporters who care deeply about making our planet a kinder, more creative, and sustainable place to live. Many do so without expectation of recognition or taking credit for doing what they care about. Which reminds me of an expression that one of my favourite people, told me a few years ago.

Martha Parker is a big thinker and during her career was very involved in making change happen in her community. She is one of the humblest people I know and seldom took credit for achievements that she spear-headed. Instead, she would lean back and quietly grin as she witnessed great things being accomplished. She called them her “silent smiles.”

A woman's face showing her smiling

I have never forgotten that simple expression of humility and think of it often during times when I am tempted to take the credit for something I’ve done or have thought of first. And much like that great piece of advice that says, “It’s better to be kind than right,” humility really is about kindness and love for all living things.

So, I ask that the next time you are tempted to judge, or boast, or admonish someone, take a pause, and put yourself in their shoes. Then bow your head and remember that we are all connected. And that my friend is joyful living!

Love from your Joy Mama,

Gloria Stewart signature

P.S. One of the biggest reasons that people have difficulty being humble is that they are afraid of loosing control. But showing humility is actually a demonstration of self-confidence and strength. So let the other person have their time to shine. You know who you are and what you’ve done. To learn more about the barrier of control and how it gets in the way of your joy, sign up for a free copy of my e-book The 8 Barriers to Joy and Abundance.

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Image from Pixabay.