Humility is considered to be a virtue by psychologists and theologians alike. Like many virtues, it's often easier to see what's good about dealing with a humble person, but it may be more difficult to see what's helpful about being humble yourself. True humility may be motivated by selflessness, but the habit also brings many tangible mental, emotional and social benefits.
Humility Enables Freedom
Embracing a humble outlook and attitude towards life will free you from the stressful quest for some intangible "significance" or unrealistic degree of importance, success, fame or power. Humility means learning to value yourself in a way that isn't dependent on outperforming other people and being the best, or one of the best, at things you do. "... most people are frustrated in their quest for significance," writes psychologist Paul Wong in his essay for the Interpersonal Network on Personal Meaning, "The present system of elitism and rankism only allows a select few to fulfill their aspirations." Developing humility, on the other hand, allows you to feel okay with yourself as someone who is ordinary or average rather than feeling that you're only a worthwhile person if you make the elite cut.
Humility Offers Social Benefits
Having the ability to be humble comes with strong social benefits. Researchers at the University of Maine recently studied how humble people perform in social groups and how they're perceived by others. What they discovered, as published in the "Journal Of Positive Psychology," is that humble people are more effective leaders and are valued in social settings due to their tendency to behave more generously, selflessly and altruistically.
Humility Is Self-Awareness
Humility is often misunderstood and thought of as having a low opinion of one's abilities and worth, but psychologists and theologians alike suggest a different definition. "Humble people are not self-deprecating," says psychologist Christ Peters in an article for Psychology Today, "but rather accurate in how they regard and present themselves." Cultivating this sort of honest accuracy in your self-assessment will help you to know where your talents and limits truly lie, saving you from embarrassment in some situations while ensuring greater success in others. Meanwhile, you will have an honest and accurate sense of which areas you truly need to improve.
Humility Promotes Learning and Growth
Humility facilitates effective learning by keeping you open to new possibilities. In the classic Zen parable, a master demonstrates the dangers of arrogance to a student using the image of a cup that's already full of tea and cannot have more poured in. Likewise, students in a classroom or people learning to live better lives cannot be "empty," or open to new experiences if they lack humility and believe they already know everything they need to.
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Lauren Vork has been a writer for 20 years, writing both fiction and nonfiction. Her work has appeared in "The Lovelorn" online magazine and thecvstore.net. Vork holds a bachelor's degree in music performance from St. Olaf College.
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