If the task of the first half of life is to put yourself out there to experience the world, the mandate of the second half is to make sense of where you have been and discover who are truly are. Your first love, travel adventures, career, marriage, children – virtually all of life’s major experiences are discovered in your first half of life. Of course, many of us are late bloomers and/or catch our second wind later in life but, generally speaking, we open ourselves far more freely to the world in the first half of our existence.
Naturally, as we chase our dreams with great abandonment and carve our identity, we run into adversity on this journey called life. As we deal with the bumps and bruises, it offers us a great opportunity to learn, reflect, discover – and ultimately grow – from these experiences. As the cloak of invincibility slowly sheds itself from our youth, ideally, we begin to embrace our most attractive feature…humility.
Humility often rises from the ashes of defeat – loss of job, major health risk, divorce, addictions, etc – and typically only emerges after we’ve gone through some variation of the necessary stages of grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Once we come to realize that we are no more immune to suffering than our neighbor, and ultimately accept this human trait, gratitude starts to seep deeper into our consciousness. We find an element of peace when we surrender and stop the resistance. This is the seed of humility.
Humility is a quiet confidence, best exemplified when coming from a position of strength. It is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. The ability to be magnanimous, to rise above your own needs and ego in a selfless manner. Genuine humility does not draw attention to itself, so it has a tendency to be overlooked by people. But the true appeal that resonates is when humility is displayed and goes unnoticed. If someone has to constantly remind you how humble they are, well, then, perhaps they really are not that humble.
Consider your favorite celebrities or sports heroes. Is part of their appeal to you their ability to be humble and not take themselves so seriously? On the contrary, think of talented superstars that don’t have universal appeal due to their arrogance and egocentric personalities. We are naturally drawn to humble public figures, largely because we sense they sincerely feel blessed to be in such a position and not take their success for granted.
Look at your life as a long lesson in humility, with the ability to be amazing in a humble way every day. Because the world needs more amazing people with humility – there are so few of us left.