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Humility is the state of being humble. A humble person is generally thought to be unpretentious and modest: someone who does not think that he or she is better or more important than others. Humility is not to be confused with humiliation, which is the act of making someone else feel ashamed, and is something completely different.

Humility in the delivery of psychological services[]

The mastery model of psychology so often taught on professional training courses does not inculcate humility. The emphasisi on the certainties of scientific knowledge can lead to a feeling of superiority in practitioners that can be harmful.

Humility in religion, spirituality, and philosophy[]

In religion and spirituality, humility is generally considered a positive value. In monotheistic religions, humility can be seen as a form of respect towards and acknowledgment of a supreme being.

Humility in Islam[]

In Islam, humility is considered a cornerstone in the true Muslim character. The Prophet Muhammad was never tired of reminding himself that he was a servant of Allah. He used to say, “I am a servant of Allah; I sit like a servant and eat like a servant.” He also said, “Whoever humbles himself for the sake of Allah, Allah will exalt him and enhance his honor and dignity.” Humility in Islam is applied in all life situations, like when dealing with one who is of a lesser status, in one’s dress and manner of walking. The Quran has always mentioned humility as a highly appreciated virtue.

Humility in Christianity[]

In Christianity, humility, or meekness, is seen as a virtue, encompassing three skills:

  1. yielding one's rights and possessions to God,
  2. earning the right to be heard rather than demanding a hearing, and
  3. responding properly to anger when others violate one's personal rights.

In essence, humility is obviously not thinking highly of yourself nor is it thinking lowly of yourself. For both of these are pride. Humility is simply not thinking of yourself at all. Amongst the benefits described in the Bible are honour, wisdom, eternal life, unity, rewards in heaven and others.

An example in the Bible is found in Philippians 2:1-17.

"If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all." (Philippians 2:1-17 KJV)

Other views of humility[]

Mahatma Gandhi is attributed as suggesting that attempting to sustain truth without humility is doomed to cause it to become instead an "arrogant caricature" of truth. [1] [2]

Some other schools of thought, such as Objectivism, have seen self-abasement as antithetical to morality.

Humility is considered an important virtue in taoism. The following quote describes how a wise person should see his accomplishments, according to the Tao Te Ching (77.4)

[a wise person] acts without claiming the results as his; he achieves his merit and does not rest (arrogantly) in it: -- he does not wish to display his superiority.

Nietzsche wrote of humility (not to speak of patience, wisdom, and any other virtue lauded widely by the masses) as a weakness, a false virtue which concealed the frailties and hidden crookedness in its holder. His idealized ubermensch, his blonde beast, would be more apt to roam around unfettered by pretensions of humility, proud of his stature and power, but not revelling idly in it, and certainly not displaying hubris.

Humor and humility[]

A telling old Jewish joke shows the other side of humility. In the village synagogue, during the High Holydays, the rabbi prostrates himself on the floor, saying, "God, before You I am nothing." Immediately the richest man in town prostrates himself on the floor, saying, "God, before You I am nothing." Right after that the town beggar prostrates himself on the floor, saying, "God, before You I am nothing." The rich man whispers to the rabbi,"Look who thinks he's nothing."

Further reading[]


External links[]

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