In a society where fortune favours the strong, modesty is often seen as a weakness. Climbing to the top of a corporate ladder is our modern version of “survival of the fittest” – and for that reason, meekness is often under-appreciated. But turns out, the secret to success and fulfillment may very well lie in the ability to express humility.
The emphasis on humility in philosophy and religious texts shows that it’s a trait and principle that deserves to be revered. As Confucius once defined it, humility is “the solid foundation of all virtues” – and possibly the key to achievement. While humble people are often seen in today’s corporate culture as unassertive, passive types, there’s something truly powerful about them that we can all stand to emulate. Studies have associated humility with healthy adjustment, good leadership and other positive emotions – demonstrating that in order to reach total success, we could stand to benefit from getting in touch with our modest side. And this doesn’t require as much self-deprecation as one might think, says Mike Austin, PhD, professor of philosophy at Eastern Kentucky University.
“Many people think of humility as thinking very little of yourself and I don’t think that’s right,” Austin tells The Huffington Post. “It’s more about a proper or accurate assessment. A big part of humility is knowing our own limits, our strengths and weaknesses, morally or otherwise.”
But beyond just knowing ourselves, humility can also build upon other positive traits we already have, Austin says. “In general, most traditions, religious or philosophical, believe that certain character traits make up a good person – and a lot of those attributes are enhanced by humility,” he notes.
So how do we add a little more humility to our lives? Below, find seven traits humble people have mastered that allow them to live accomplished, fulfilled and happy lives.
They focus their energy on others: People who practice humility tend to reflect inward, but when it comes to where they focus their energy, it’s all about other people. Austin says that while humble people put others before themselves, they do it in a mindful manner that doesn’t end up hurting themselves in the long run. “Some people think of humility as thinking little of yourself, but I would say it’s someone who just doesn’t think about themselves that much,” he explains. “Their focus is just outward. They have a real interest in others and their contributions to the world.”
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