February 09, 2017

5 Powerful Quotes Answering “What is Humility?”

In today's day and age stressing the value of humility amongst Millenials is more important than ever. But exactly, what is humility? In this article, we explore several definitions through powerful quotes from some of the world's most remarkable people.

There’s no getting around it: Millennials are certainly not known for their humility. Media outlets from the National Review to the New York Post have blasted young people for being "entitled," "irritating," and generally self-centered and self-important. In many ways, posing the question to millennials of 'what is humility' is a lot like asking the general public 'what energy is made up of?' We know it exists, and it's all around us, but we don't exactly know how to describe it.

Many of these outlets attribute this trend to the fact that parents of Millennials have brought up a generation that is grossly overpraised and overly entitled. Of course, like many modern narratives expounded by the media, this idea is extremely problematic if not downright ridiculous.

Few can deny, however, that today’s society places a profound emphasis on the value of confidence yet remains largely silent on the topic of humility. By asking "what is humility?" and learning the meaning of humility, people of all ages can reap benefits that unchecked confidence would otherwise ruin.

Where Has Humility Gone?

Throughout the centuries, great thinkers of all stripes have stressed the importance of humility and illuminated its tremendous value. Not only that, but the great thinkers, educators, philosophers, and leaders lived it. They understood the meaning of humility, and how to live it.

The following quotes not only make various attempts to define, exactly, what is humility and stress the importance of being humble but also illustrate to you why the virtue of humility should be rediscovered and embraced within the modern world we live in today.

What is Humility?

"True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less."
― CS Lewis
Mr. Lewis’ definition of humility highlights a key attribute of humility: the ability to empathize with others. By identifying with other people and seeing yourself in them, you are not only in a better position to help them, but you are also in a much better position to help yourself.

As psychologist Miki Kashtan points out, "whenever someone is heard, they find more willingness to hear another." When you look past yourself to empathize with others, you ultimately make yourself more human—and more relatable.

1. Humility is Demonstrating the Ability to Empathize with others

"True humility is contentment."
― Henri Frederic Amiel
Imagine how exhausting it must be to feel you must prove yourself as "the best" at everything you do! (And if you don’t have to imagine this type of exhaustion because you are trying to live up to this impossible ideal, take a deep breath and relax before reading on.)

Contentment, a true characteristic of humility means to have acceptance. To accept who you are and the world around you. So let go of your ego, and think about how humility can lead to happiness.

2. Humility is Living in a True State of Contentment

"'Thank you' is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding."
― Alice Walker
If you don't give yourself time to consider your own weaknesses, you will have difficulty believing that you need help from others. Without humility, you may refuse aid when it's truly needed. You may never recognize that help when it comes, and the words "thank you" will inevitably stick in your throat.

To live in a constant state of gratitude, just look around you. The reality is, there are countless things around us every day we can be thankful for, we just have to see them. Whether it be the clothes we wear, to the food we eat, or even the people we have around us — right now and every day there is something to be thankful for.

3. Humility is Being in the State of Gratitude

"It ain't the heat, it's the humility."
― Yogi Berra
The master of the malapropism, Mr. Berra apparently misspoke when he came up with this little gem. However, there is much wisdom in these words. Humility can help us deal with extreme pressure (or "the heat" of the moment) by allowing us to recognize our mistakes so that we can calmly and rationally overcome them.

4. Humility is Containing the Heat when under Pressure

"Humility is the mother of all virtues; purity, charity, and obedience. It is in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted, and ardent."
― Mother Teresa
Leave it to Mother Teresa to encapsulate the true value of humility in all its forms. Without humility, our eyes are clouded to who we really are and our unseen faults overwhelm us. By recognizing our shortcomings, we can more easily forgive the shortcomings of others and place ourselves on the path to becoming better and more genuine people.

5. Humility is Mother Teresa

While the importance of confidence cannot be underestimated in this day and age, humility is the key to unlocking much, much more. So what is humility and what does it mean to be truly humble?

As you can see from the quotes above, humility means different things to different people. However, by fully understanding what humility means to you, you can learn to see past your ego to improve your life and the lives of others.

Other articles in this 3-part series:

  1. (This article)
  2. The Importance of Humility: The Virtue of Humanity.
  3. How to be Humble: Drawing out the Force of Humility.