An essay on the value of humility in our life - a value much misunderstood

Humility is a value taught by our religious texts and teachers, practiced by them, and also followed by our earlier generation people and even the iconic great people in recent times. However, it is becoming one of the values which are fast eroding in the present-day commercial practical world. The author explains how it is a value most misunderstood and how humility is a positive value enabling growth and success even in the present-day modern world.


Unlike material products , humans, are not given a price, but a value. This value is a sum total of the ethics, morals, and human values they practice. All of these are interlinked, intertwined and impact human life in leading a harmonious life within and without. Humility or humbleness is being modest and unpretentious.

Humility misunderstood as negative

Unfortunately in the present-day world humility is one of the most eroding values. That is because it is grossly misunderstood mistaken and misinterpreted in the light of a short-sighted view of life by many individually and by materialistic current day lifestyles. Ironically as a consequence of this wrong view humility is also trending to be seen as a weak character and even a negative trait, whereas really it is opposite.

However, humility is one value cherished and taught by most religious and religious leaders over centuries. Over millenniums, the Hindu Dharma or Hindu values emphasise humility as a basic and apex character trait to be cultivated by humans not only for harmonious material world, but even for the 'Absolute realisation'.

India teaches greatness and power co-exist with humility

In India even the greatest kings were also humble too. Ancient Rishis who had the greatest knowledge were also humble in their character. Epics also narrated how some of them were made to understand the value of humility by apt actions of the wise men, gods, or rulers. Lord Sree Rama is seen as the epitome of humility. Mahatma Gandhi was always advocating humility. In the very recent period, APJ Abdul Kalam the former President of India, who was also a world-renowned scientist was a perfect example of achieving greatness by humility. The Indian way of greeting and respecting elders, scholars, and great people is to bow our head or even prostrate before them. That is humility imbibed in daily life. The western lifestyle also follows the taking off of the hat and mildly bending one's head.

As this value is advocated by ancient texts and teachers, some consider it as old-fashioned. Humility being non-aggressive in nature is seen as a weakness by the modern 'success trainers'. They see it as an impediment to growth and hence advocate aggressive self-confidence. This is where they go wrong. Humility is actually a positive value and well-practiced and practicable only by those who have confidence in themselves.

Humility is success-oriented too

The reality is that humility is one of the most powerful of our values and one which is most growth oriented. Modern-day success is not exclusive but inclusive teamwork. A humble person is seen and felt as easily approachable. Humility builds trust among your people you work with and deal with. Trust builds further bonding and comfort which leads to a harmonious team work and successful leadership. Humility is understanding oneself truthfully and knowing one's merits and limitations. It is a 'lack of false pride and freedom from ego'. This understanding helps to accept factual criticism and feedback, which will enable improvement. Thus humility enables learning.

The Sanskrit sloka on humbleness says:
"Vidya dadati Vinayam,
Vinaya dadati patratam,
Patratva dhanam aapnoti,
tat dhanam tat sukham"

The essence of the above verse is: Education/knowledge gives humility, modesty begets capability, capable worthiness helps to make money/wealth, that money/wealth brings happiness and accomplishment).

Thus it is evident that humility brings monetary success and fame and is not as otherwise misunderstood.

According to Andrew Murray, "Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised."

Humility makes one accept true criticism, apologize willingly when needed, strengthens him to accept responsibility and accountability for own action, prepares him to compete with himself to improve and not to compete with all others around.

Need to cultivate and practice

Like any other human value humility also needs to be imbibed cultivated and practiced sincerely. The very first need is to listen to others patiently. Express sincere gratitude to those who helped you even in a minor way. Follow and interact with great but humble people. Be a bit spiritual and understand that the world is vast and our own space is minuscule. The Indian religious teachings come to help here. Put own actions for review obtaining feedback and take remedial steps to improve.


Even Kautilya's Arthashastra( an economic treatise) says that to achieve significant success one has to destroy the basic six negative traits- Kaama- kodha-lobha-moha madha-maatsarya( which can be loosely translated as Lust Anger Greed Infatuation Ego and Envy). All the 'Nethishaastras' vouch that these six can be overcome by practicing Vinaya or humility.

Let me conclude this essay with a quote by Ezra Taft Benson - "With pride, there are many curses. With humility, there come many blessings."


Author: Umesh29 Aug 2021 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 4

False pride and show off can bring temporary respect to a person but it is not a good trait in a longer run. Down to the earth approach and humility are the most prized possessions of an individual who can win the hearts of everyone just by using them in one's routine behaviour. Humility is that great quality which brings all other things in a person whether it is patience or discipline or self control or keeping one's temperament under control in extreme conditions and many other good virtues like that. It is imperative that humanity deserves a higher status in the list of virtues and those who adopt humility in their behaviour and lives are the winners in all respect. It is not easy to inculcate humility in one's character as it requires a good mentor or a good teacher who can direct the person in that direction to learn the etiquette and wisdom in their lives which could finally bring humility in them. Acquiring simply educational qualifications and academic learnings will not help a person to learn humility in one's life. It definitely requires a Guru or elder in the house to inculcate this in him.

Author: Venkiteswaran29 Aug 2021 Member Level: Gold   Points : 0

Thanks for the comment, Umesh.
Before imparting the formal alphanumeric education it was and is our tradition in this country to give value education for the child. This does not have a strict syllabus, but is being tutored by elders in the family starting from mother by straight telling, by narrating moral stories from our Puranas and sacred texts. I remember a book 'Enchuvadi" which was the first text book for me even before admitted to school. The book has comparisons about two boys one good and the other termed as bad. By reading these lessons to the child the child becomes familiar as to what are good values and what are not to be followed. I recall that it used to start with waking up early,cleaning teeth, taking bath regularly, telling truth, being polite and humble etc etc.

Author: Dr Deepali Gangwar30 Aug 2021 Member Level: Gold   Points : 3

The person with humility is soft-spoken, and they are good listeners too. That is required for proper growth of mindset. A humble person can listen more which shows that how much value he gives to others.
On the contrary, being more humble can make a person miserable, and others can act as dictators over him. There must be a balance between humility and arrogance. But still, humility is a very important trait that is required to make good relationships with others and is also helpful at the workplace to reduce stress and work more efficiently. When a person is humble, he can work with a team, can admit his mistakes and also can share the credits of success, which enhance his learning and eventually causes overall growth.

Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao31 Aug 2021 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 3

These days people believe that a good salary, good physique, and friends from higher society will make them great. But these things may bring honour to you only for a short while. Once you are out of the above-mentioned points nobody will recognize you. But persons with intrinsic value as human beings will be respected forever. There is a misbelief that humility is a weakness of a person. But a really great person will be always humble. He expresses his humility every time. Our Ex-President and a great scientist Sri Kalamji is the best example for a person with humility. He believed in simple living and never behaved as if he is a man who came to this world directly from the sky. That is why we all remember him and admire him for this noble quality even after his demise. People with humility will handle stress more effectively. They will have higher levels of physical and mental strength. They are generous, helpful and down-to-earth. These qualities will make them friends to many people.

Author: Swati Sharma31 Aug 2021 Member Level: Gold   Points : 4

Humility is always a matter of pride and respect. Humble people are rarely found in today's society, and such people are really worthy of respect. Some people think that humility means to bow down before everyone, whereas it is not so. When there is a situation of a dispute, polite people do not try to prove themselves right by arguing in vain without reason but giving a symbol of their humility, they listen to the other person calmly and comfortably, to understand their ideology, then try to give a response calmly. People with humble hearts keep goodwill in their minds for society and other living beings. We have heard many stories of hardness and softness, in which the victory is always of tenderness, so people with a soft nature, that is, a sense of humility, are always revered and respected.

Author: Reena Upadhya04 Apr 2023 Member Level: Gold   Points : 5

Humility is a positive trait. The author has rightly described that it is nowadays misunderstood as negative. Humility is strength. We might be powerful, skillful, healthy, wealthy and everything that one can ever desire and yet, we can be humble. We are down to earth and we feel good about our humility and also about ourselves that we acquire it. Being in power does not mean that we should discard the importance of humility. Yes, we have enormous power but at the same time, we are open to others. The weakest person can approach us and freely share what he wants to. This will make us look so attractive.

People feel that if we are humble, we will be taken for granted. Only when we are difficult to approach, it gives us high value. Only when we speak to a certain group of people and are not accessible to others, it will increase our value. We look at VIPs and celebrities and start mimicking them. We feel that when the power comes to a person, he should not keep his foot on the ground. He is meant to fly high in the sky. On the contrary, a grounded person is the most powerful of all. He knows where he belongs and from where his journey started and will never disregard this fact.

Yes, humility is success oriented. Only a humble person will be open to what others have to say about a particular situation. He knows that in any given situation, there is a scope for improvement. Only when he lets others into his social circle, he will come to know of new ideas and different approaches. On the other hand, a know-it-all person works from his ego. He feels that he knows everything and can take care of his business. He does not need anyone's advice or help.

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