hu·mil·i·ty | \ hyü-ˈmi-lə-tē


: the quality of having a modest view of one's importance. Freedom from pride or arrogance. Putting the needs of another person before your own ego, and thinking of others before serving your own ego. It also means acknowledging that you are not always right.


the quality or state of being humble

// accepted the honour with humility

// the ordeal taught her humility

// he doesn't have the humility to admit when he's wrong


This week I have been reflecting on humility and the importance of appreciating and giving thanks to everything in my life. I have been spending time savouring the ordinary and doing the work to let go of any part of me that needs to be validated by outside sources [people, opinions, stuff].

Don’t you love how life serves you up lessons? Last month the small creek in my backyard served me a lesson in humility, inspiring me to adopt a daily ritual where I spend time giving thanks and appreciation to the land, the creek, my life, and everything in my home.

You see, you can be settled, taking things for granted and flowing smoothly on course and gently upstream, and then BOOM boulders can be moved, trees can fall, uncertainty prevails, and the course of the stream is suddenly reset.  

Last month with all the floods and flash flooding my gentle, somewhat unremarkable 3-metre-wide babbling creek turned to a 30-metre-wide raging torrent within 15-20 minutes.

Something about this flash flooding event stopped me in my tracks. You see I never really appreciated the creek; I suppose I somewhat underappreciated its power – never giving it a second thought when I took leisurely carefree strolls down its banks to pick blackberries or native wild peppermint.

The gentle creek that I never thought much about or greatly appreciated became fierce and quite frankly scary. The ground rumbled, big boulders were being tumbled downstream, trees fell, and wildlife became displaced.

This turn of events touched me and changed a part of me forever – it deepened my humility. No matter how much, I think I am in control I am not. It reinforced the importance of appreciating and respecting what appears insignificant and somewhat ordinary. 

It reminded me of the smallness of my own ego.

I always thought of the snowy river to be grand and significant, and my own little Sugarloaf creek small and insignificant. I have learnt that if we deem things insignificant – that is when life intervenes and reminds us that nothing in this life is insignificant, and everything has the power to become a mighty force to be reckoned with. And, that is when the universe or life often serves us a lesson in humility.

We live in a culture that favours the hustlers, the strong and the confident. We label these people as true leaders and they become people that many admire and look up to.

I believe in this world of overachieving, over admiring and underappreciating; humility is a virtue that is at times forgotten and lost.  

Firstly, to hold the virtue of humility requires that we let go of self-absorption. Second, humility involves coming into contact with a more meaningful, deeper and more mindful reality. Third, humility allows a person to develop a more positive perspective on themselves and the world

Many people think that to have humility is to be weak.  Contrary to popular belief, humility is not “thinking less of yourself”—it’s “thinking of yourself less'. It's dropping the self-entitlement and the “I” mentality and switching to a “we” mentality that focuses on service and harmony for all [including the self].

You can be humble and have boundaries. You can be humble and be assertive; for true assertiveness is not aggressive. As popular author Brene Brown says, it's kind to be clear and upfront.

In that context, “gentleness and kindness” are often confused with “weakness.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Gentleness and kindness are something that we should all strive to become.

I have been reflecting on the virtues of humility this week – here are 7 that I have come up with so far:

1. Acknowledge we don’t have it all together. It takes a lifetime to master life – the truth is we will never know all the answers to everything – therefore no one has it all together. It is important to be honest about this and have the ability to take an accurate self-assessment and realise where we came short – then learn, grow and evolve as a result. Being humble means accepting the bumps and bruises—or even a near-fatal wreck—in order to learn how to do things differently and better.

2. Acceptance of where we are. A humble person embraces both successes and failures, the ups and downs, and finds power and resilience in embracing vulnerability and in not faking it.

3. Know the difference between self-confidence and pride. Humility and confidence are meant to be intertwined and reside in harmony together. Confidence and self-esteem do not shrink as humility grows. Both Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi’s model of humility—passive resistance—did not include weakness, poor self-esteem or a lack of fortified commitment. Confidence and humility bring harmony to people, situations, decisions, and the self. Yes, by all means, we must be proud of our achievements, however, we must never put ourselves above others or think we are better than.

4. Seek to add value to others. Inward reflection is healthy; inward focus can be debilitating. It’s important to care for yourself. This should be balanced with an outward focus on others and their contribution to the world. Self-awareness is not self-absorption. Humility creates a sense of “we-ness” in relationships. Who wants a narcissist for a friend or partner? Humility becomes the social oil that prevents wear–and–tear in the engine of our relationships.

5. Take responsibility for your actions. Actively choose to not  blame others, circumstances or genes for your actions. Humility is slow to judge others but quick to correct itself. There might be a place for explaining actions, but not excusing them. Excuses are usually the result of pride and fear. Humility apologizes when it is wrong without allowing others to mistreat it. Self–flagellation is the shadow side of taking personal responsibility. Acknowledgment leads to remorse and a change in direction, not self-pity or self-loathing. Sometimes we don’t see the best path until we’ve strayed from it. We must acknowledge our errors and use them to become better, and stronger.

6. Understand the shadow side of success. Advancements and promotions are good, however the further we get from others, the more potential for arrogance. As a humble person moves up the chain of command, they remind themselves of the danger of power and how it potentially can make us feel self–important. This leads to arrogance, and arrogance stops listening to others. A humble person is deliberate but not self-serving. They understand that it takes a leader to accomplish a little and an army to accomplish a lot

7. Hold gratitude for what you have. We live in a society where the “scarcity” mentality dominates. When we take on that perspective, we miss the moments to be truly thankful. The I-want-it-now mindset never stops to realise that I’ve got it already. It’s never enough! The opposite of scarcity is not abundance. The opposite of scarcity is enough. I am grateful I have enough. Humility recognises that we own nothing. All is a gift. And we are profoundly grateful.

I am not a religious person per se, I am more of a seeker and am open to many possibilities. One of the teachings I love and resonate with deeply is the Tao Te Ching. In the Tao centred life, time and time again it reiterates that there is polarity in everything and that we must centre ourselves in the polarising energy to find balance and harmony that exists between both polarities.

Bringing the Tao approach into defining humility and whether we can be too humble – the Tao would always recommend being as soft and humble as we possibly can without disrespecting or harming our own self-worthiness and appreciation. The more we live a Tao centred life – the softer we learn to become without harming our own self-worth. 

When we have mastered the Tao – we can give and give to those who constantly take, as the goal of the Tao is to be gentle and unaffected by outside influences in any way.  

However, living more softly takes a lifetime to master – and on the journey, we often swing from humility, submissive, assertive to aggressive – but after enough time, experience and practice we learn to balance all these emotions in harmony. We learn to respect our boundaries and be assertive but do it in a gentle, humble, and compassionate way.

This week, join me in spending some time reflecting on your own humility.  Ask yourself where am I too rigid, tough and unforgiving? Where am I not gentle enough? Where am I gentle and kind? Where am I gentle but have no boundaries? Where can I improve?

A deeply humble person sees value in nature, connection with others and in the small ordinary things, for it is these things only that bring about a life of meaning and true contentment. This week ask yourself what can I appreciate? What do I underappreciate or take for granted? Spend some time acknowledging the history and energy of the land you walk on.

Enjoy walking the path of humility and appreciation this week. I would love to know any lessons in humility you have had or something you are grateful for - email me and let me know yours.

Stay safe, stay well and may you live your life with ease. 

With gratitude