The wise advise that one should never look down on other people unless it is to hold their hands and help them up. This beautifully sums up the quality of humility. People who are humble never look down upon anybody. Not only do they not make a big deal of themselves, they are always ready to learn from others.
What the new generation lacks is this quality of humility. Many a time parents and even teachers are upset by the ‘know all’ attitude thrown around by teenagers today. As if it is not bad enough that they think they actually know it all, they also feel that the older generation does not know a thing. Do you know why the older generation does not protest? Because they are humble. They are also mature enough to understand that these youngsters will finally come around to realising that their elders are a storehouse of experience and practical knowledge. Time will reveal that to them in more ways than one.
That said, humility remains a trait worth cultivating. It makes a person beautiful from the inside. That inner beauty shows on a person’s face. Ever wondered why saints and ascetics have that extraordinary glow on their faces? Why they appear to be so calm and composed all the time? That is because they are so knowledgeable and yet, their humility does not let them flaunt that knowledge with that annoying ‘I know all’ attitude. It is this humility that makes their audiences listen to them in rapt attention and yearn to shine like them.
Each one of us can possess this inner beauty by:
1. Realising that there is always room for improvement; that one can never know it all; that learning is a lifelong process; that one can learn from anyone, irrespective of rank or status. Humble people are open to feedback. They don’t just assume that they are the best or that they are flawless. Ever noticed how some musicians and artists bow their heads and join their hands while accepting the applause of the audience? It is so clear from that very act that they feel humbled and overwhelmed by the response of the audience. They, as artists, do not walk with their noses in their air nor do they feel offended by feedback or criticism. The quality of humility prevents them from feeling so.
2. Being simple: Humble people make do with the basics. They believe in leading simple lives. Even if they have the wealth, they will not splurge on non-essentials or get carried away by brands and designer labels. They would prefer to donate to the less privileged, generously contribute to the betterment of others and try to give back to the society. They are happy with what they have, which makes them content and allows them to sleep soundly with a clear conscience.
3. Expressing gratitude: Whatever we are today is by the grace of God. That is something that humble people never forget. They never let go an opportunity to thank the Almighty for His blessings and for all the privileges they have been bestowed with. They also generously thank people who help them in any way. Only a humble person will thank the doorman who holds the door open for them or a cab driver who has dropped them off. Most people take such services for granted, but not those who have humility embedded in them.
4. Forgiving: Not many people have the quality to forgive others. However, humble people do not think twice before forgiving others for their mistakes. They have the maturity to understand that the other person has acted in a certain way because of certain reasons and will sooner or later realise his mistake. If a waiter accidentally drops food on a guest, the instant reaction for most people would be to chide the waiter. Some may even go to the extent of calling him names. However, a humble person will probably just say “Don’t worry. It is fine.” They believe ‘To err is human and to forgive, divine’.
5. Respecting everyone: It is common to see people disrespecting their maids and servants. They forget that they are also humans like us, and working hard to earn their bread. Their job is no less important than ours. They deserve as much respect from us as anyone else. Only children of humble parents will call these maids and servants ‘Uncle’ or ‘Aunty’, the rest call them by their names, because it never occurred to their parents to correct them. It requires humility to respect others, irrespective of rank or stature.
6. Being appreciative: No good act or quality in others goes unnoticed by humble people. Not only do they notice even the most minute act of affection or gratitude, but they also make it a point to appreciate the same. They realise that they are just a miniscule part of the whole wide universe, and that there are many objects, elements and human beings out there, who are beautiful and wonderful. They appreciate the good around them and in others. They are open in their praise of others and shower the deserving with genuine compliments.
In a world where only the fittest survive, you may often be advised to be assertive. Follow that advice by all means, but do not mistake assertiveness for aggression. Remember, it is possible to be assertive without being aggressive. In other words, you must act or speak as required to assert your point or to stand up for yourself. However, this can be done with calmness, without raising your voice or adopting an aggressive stance. Only humility will allow you to keep your calm and not lose your temper while being assertive. And yes, you will create more impact with your calm assertion than you will with your aggression.
Humility may come naturally to some, but others may have to struggle to develop the trait. For some it is quite a challenge, because it is not easy for everyone to accept the fact that they are not always right; that they have flaws and that they may not possess the answers or solutions to every problem. The ones who realise this, are already humble.