Words have enormous power, whether written or spoken.  Words can bring us laughter, and they can bring us tears. Words can influence, inspire, manipulate and shock. They can build and they can destroy.  The power of life and death is in words!  In fact, the power of words cannot be quantified.

Some words are so powerful that they have visible effects on people. One of such words is humility.  Humility is not just a powerful word, it has been described as the most beautiful word in the English language.  Humility is one word that is seldom in neutral gear.  A great many people love the word and all it stands for.  Humility is a virtue that everyone should aspire to have.  There is completely nothing to lose by being humble.

But what is humility? 

Good question.  Humility has been defined and interpreted differently by different people.  Some almost fear it and interpret it to be synonymous with lack of self-confidence or timidity.

For the purpose of this article, we are going to adopt the dictionary definition of the word which defines humility as “modesty, lacking pretence, not believing that you are superior to others”. A supplementary definition of the work describes humility as “having a lowly opinion of oneself, meekness".  Yet, another dictionary definition of humility says: “The quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc.”

The definition of humility does not include timidity.  Instead, humility simply requires a man to think of his abilities and his actions as no greater, and no lesser, than they really are. Humility means that a man knows and is completely honest with himself. He honestly assesses what are, and to what magnitude he possess talents and gifts, struggles and weaknesses.

The Benefits of Humility

Humility offers its owner complete freedom from the desire to impress, be right, or get ahead. Frustrations and losses have less impact on a humble ego, and a humble person confidently receives opportunity to grow, improve, and reject society‘s labels. A humble life results in contentment, patience, forgiveness, and compassion.  Humble people do not regard themselves as more special or better than others. Humility works hand-in-hand with gratitude as a learned character strength.

Humility understands individual limitations.  Humans, by definition, are finite and thus, limited in understanding. Our talents are different, our minds are different, and our experiences vary from person to person.  Individually, we comprehend only a small, unique fraction of the world. But together, we arrive at a far-grander view of the universe. Humble people realize their understanding is limited and embrace it.  (This is sometimes referred to as intellectual humility.) As a result, they wisely look for answers outside of themselves.

Humility appreciates others.  All human life carries inherent value. Our souls hold no more value or importance than the person sitting next to us, no matter where we may be sitting. A humble person appreciates the fact that the world does not revolve around him or her; and accepts their position as just a tiny piece in the giant puzzle.

Humility respects others and their opinions. Just because an opinion is different doesn’t mean it is wrong. Please don’t get this wrong; the opposing opinion may be right or wrong, and there are countless arguments where both sides can’t be right. What is being said here is that an opinion or argument is not wrong just because it is different … and that is a far better place to begin the dialogue.

Humility listens more and speaks less.  It spends more time understanding… and less time being understood.

Humility withholds judgments over intentions.  The quickest way to win an argument is to make sweeping judgments concerning the intentions of others. It is the easiest way to discount any valid, opposing argument. It is also one of the most damaging.  In fact, it is one of the primary reasons that humility has completely vanished from our political discourse.

Humility helps others and promotes others.  Joy is not found in being right and arriving at the top. Instead, joy is found in helping others grow and succeed. Humility realizes that in those cases, both win.

Humility always begins in our heart.  As a result, it offers significant control over attitude, outlook, and actions. It has nothing to prove, but everything to offer.

Characteristics of Humble People

The following are some character traits that set humble people apart from others:

 A humble person …

  • Will often redirect praise to others. In fact, they will give credit for success to another person at their own expense in order to build the other person’s self-confidence.
  • Openly acknowledges their faults and weaknesses with the intention to help boost other people’s self-confidence and self-esteem. In other words, they lower themselves in order to lift others.
  •  Recognizes their talents and strengths as gifts that they openly acknowledge and accept without the need to flaunt them.
  •  Recognizes that the strengths and the skills they have developed over a lifetime are a direct result of support that they have received from other people.
  •  Is always incredibly encouraging of others. No matter what mistakes or errors people make, they are always quick to acknowledge the positive takeaways of every situation.
  •  Is very open to constructive criticism. As such they are extremely teachable and willing to learn from their choices, behaviors and actions.
  • Is quick to apologize and to learn from their errors and mistakes.
  •  Is both a loyal follower as well as an inspiration leader. They clearly understand how to play each role for the greater benefit of the team.
  •  Has a competitive streak. Yes, they live with humility, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t strive to do their very best in every situation.
  •  Has a zest and appreciation for life. They tend to appreciate the smallest of things that others typically take for granted.
  •  Is intensely focused on serving the greater good of others. As such, they are always keenly aware of people’s desires, wants and needs.
  •  Keeps their goals to themselves. They clearly understand that talking about their goals can rub some people the wrong way.  A focus on encouraging other people to talk about their goals and aspirations is far more appealing for them.
  •  Listens intently when others are talking. They seek first to understand before jumping to any conclusions.