Why Humility is a Virtue

What is Humility?

Before exploring why humility is a virtue, let us take a look at the basic definition.

The quality of not thinking that you are better than other people; the quality of being humble.
Oxford learners dictionary online.

The quality of not being proud because you are aware of your bad qualities
Cambridge Dictionary

Freedom from pride or arrogance: the quality or state of being humble
mirriam-webster.com

It seems that humility is inextricably synonymous with being a humble person and the opposite of pride and arrogance. It is therefore perhaps not surprising that Humility is the first of the 16 Guidelines.

“Humility comes at the beginning of the 16 Guidelines because it is a starting point. How can we grow and develop if we think we have nothing to learn?”
16 Guidelines for Life, The basics (2009) by Alyson Murdock and Dekyi-Lee Oldershaw

Humility is often underrated in today’s society. Despite popular opinion, humility is not about being meek or timid—it is about acknowledging our character strengths and weaknesses and striving to become better without boasting about it. Taking a humble approach to life by being a humble person can lead to many positive outcomes, from earning respect from others to cultivating meaningful relationships with those around us. It can even have a powerful impact on the world, as teaching and spreading compassion and wisdom through free resources and courses, like those offered by the FDCW, is one of the most efficient ways of creating positive change.

Humility also opens up new possibilities for personal connection and growth. When we take a humble approach to life, detaching ourselves from our own interests, we create a safe space where we can learn from others and share our knowledge and experiences. This open exchange of ideas helps to foster relationships and encourages collaboration, which can open up even more opportunities for growth and learning. Furthermore, true humility helps to strengthen our understanding of our own and others’ perspectives, allowing us to see things from different angles and develop compassion for those around us.

Why Humility is a Virtue?

“The only true wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing.”
– Socrates, Greece

A virtue is a behaviour showing high moral standards. Humility as a quality of being a humble person is, therefore, a virtue. If we practice humility, this allows us to operate from a place of nobility, courage, and grace. It helps us to recognise that we are equal to others and to see the beauty in both our strengths and weaknesses. Humility also helps us to let go of pride and the need for approval, and instead focus on cultivating gratitude and appreciation. It can help us to be more generous with our time and energy, leading to more meaningful connections with others. Finally, humility can be a great teacher, providing us with valuable lessons about life and about ourselves.

The Benefits of Practising Humility

Why humility is a virtue

Practicing humility generates many important benefits. It helps to cultivate self-awareness, a better understanding of others, and an appreciation for life. If we practice humility, we have the power to inspire others, create lasting relationships, and open up new opportunities. Humility can help us to be more accepting of criticism and feedback, and to see situations in a more positive light. By recognising that everyone has something valuable to offer, we can also become better listeners, which can help strengthen our connections with others. Lastly, profound humility shows that we are secure in ourselves and our capabilities and can help foster a sense of contentment

How to Cultivate Humility?

I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble.”

– Helen Keller, USA

Cultivating humility requires practice, reflection, and dedication. It begins with an understanding that no one is perfect and we all have areas of improvement. To cultivate humility, we should focus on being a humble person and generous with others, recognising when wrong actions are done, and showing forgiveness. Humility grows when we are open to criticism and feedback from others, and reflect on mistakes without judgement. Practicing gratitude, service, and humility in everyday life can also help to foster humility and a sense of contentment with ourselves.

Pride vs Humility

What is the relation between pride and humility? The first step to understanding the power of humility is to understand the concept of pride vs. humility. Whilst the word pride is often viewed as a positive trait, excessive pride leads to arrogance and an exaggerated sense of own importance. In comparison, humility is the practice of self-reflection and recognising our own strengths and weaknesses. If we forsake pride and focus on humility, we are able to acknowledge our own abilities while recognising that we need help from others and that we can learn throughout our lives.

Strategies for Overcoming Pride and Developing Humility

Strategies for overcoming pride and developing humility involve understanding that pride and selfish ambition can be a barrier to gaining true insight into oneself. We must first understand our own pride before we can begin to work on developing true humility. This can involve reflecting on past struggles and successes, as well as recognising the role that pride can play in hindering personal growth and development. Additionally, one should look for ways to practice self-compassion, practice gratitude, and forgive oneself for mistakes. Finally, being open to feedback from others and being willing to acknowledge mistakes can be great steps towards overcoming pride and cultivating humility.

Ways to Apply the Principles of Humility in Daily Life

Ways to apply the principles of humility in our daily lives involve recognising our own inherent worth and seeing value in ourselves and others. This can be done through small acts of kindness and thoughtfulness towards others, such as volunteering or helping a friend in need. Practicing humility can also involve offering genuine compliments and avoiding gossiping or speaking ill of others. Additionally, one should strive to recognise and celebrate the successes of others, and not be overly concerned with one’s own accomplishments. Lastly, it is important to be mindful of how our words and actions might affect those around us and to take responsibility for any mistakes we make.

Where to Learn More About Humility?

FDCW believes that everyone should have access to the tools needed to pursue a more compassionate and wise lifestyle, regardless of financial restrictions. Every person deserves the same opportunity to learn and grow without being limited by financial constraints, and FDCW works hard to provide such access. Through its free online resources, videos, meditations, articles and courses, FDCW enables anyone to learn more about humility, the other 16 Guidelines, and how they can promote positive change in the world.

Humility is a powerful virtue that can have a profound impact on the world. Humility is also the first of the 16 Guidelines for Life. By teaching and spreading the concept of humility, organisations like FDCW help promote compassion and wisdom and make it easier for people to become more self-aware and mindful of their own actions. By understanding the power of humility, we can cultivate meaningful relationships and make an impact on the world around us.

If you’re interested in learning more about the power of humility and how it can be used to promote positive change in the world, then consider taking one of FDCW’s free resources or courses. FDCW provides a wide selection of educational materials and support to help you learn more about the benefits of humility and how it can shape your life and the lives of those around you. With FDCW, you can gain the knowledge necessary to pursue a more compassionate and meaningful life and make a real difference in the world.


Interested in the 16 Guidelines?

Are you interested in learning more about the 16 guidelines?
If so check out 16 Guidelines For Life by Alison Murdoch and Dekyi-Lee Oldershaw.

The book was first published in this edition in 2009 and is now available asan ebook. Since the first 16 Guidelines book was published, it has inspired a range of practical projects – in schools, colleges, businesses, healthcare organisations, drug rehabilitation centres and prisons – around the globe.

The book provides a comprehensive introduction to the 16 Guidelines and the four Wisdom Themes with thought-provoking interpretations, role models and guided reflections.

It is an ideal companion resource for anyone with an interest in universal ethical values as represented by the 16 Guidelines. The download also includes a printable version of the 16G cards.
Get the 16 guidelines


The Foundation for Developing Compassion and Wisdom

At FDCW we are committed to a more compassionate, wiser world. We provide resources, courses and training to develop qualities such as kindness, patience and courage – qualities which are essential for meeting the challenges of the world we all share. The Foundation for Developing Compassion and Wisdom (FDCW) was established as a global charity based in London in 2005. Since then we have provided secular training, programmes and resources across many sectors of society – schools, universities, hospices, workplaces, healthcare, youth groups and community centres. Our courses have reached thousands of people across the world through our dedicated and growing network of facilitators in more than 20 countries.

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