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The Secret of Life: The Fifth Secret
A SUMMARY TO START THIS DISCUSSION
In search of the secret of life I am, like some old bearded Shaolin monk roaming the countryside. It is no wonder I didn’t date much in high school. I was the introspective one in the corner of the gymnasium, standing alone while others danced to early Rock n Roll. I would make others my age uncomfortable with my piercing stare as we conversed. I would listen intently and try to understand their every word, and gleam some deep meaning from those conversations.
I’ve always been a searcher and in truth a risk-taker, for I never understood why one would want to waste a minute of this life and not try to experience everything that is waiting for us.
And now, in the twilight of my life, my searching days are limited in number, but that is as it should be. I no longer wonder what the meaning of life is; it seems to me to be such a simple concept, so simple that I wonder why it took me so long to see it.
This article, and the four before it, discuss those principles, those characteristics, and those actions which I believe are so important in fully appreciating life and thus find happiness.
The first four were about love, productivity, acceptance and hope. Today we will talk about humility.
A SOLID FOUNDATION FOR LIFE
And there you have it, the eternal struggle of man, shifting between the polar opposites of humility and ego.
The definition of humility is a modest opinion of one’s importance in the grand scheme of things. The definition of egotism is an exaggerated sense of self-importance.
Where we are on the ego-humility spectrum is a great indicator of the happiness and contentment we will find in life. I would submit to you that the closer you are to practicing humility then the happier you will be. Why?
THE JOYS OF HUMILITY
Humility frees us to become a valuable member of the human race. It allows us to listen closely to others, to work closely with others, and to relate to others. When one shifts the focus away from themselves and towards others, one accepts their role in a bigger picture. In so doing we are stating that we understand we are no more or no less important than anyone else, and in making that statement we are accepting our rightful place in the brotherhood of man.
Egotism does not allow this to happen. The focus is always on us, and that arrests any possibility of growth as a human being. To embrace ego is to embrace a lonely existence; to embrace humility is to embrace companionship.
It is impossible to listen without humility, and without listening there is very little learning possible. Humility allows us to learn compassion and empathy for others, and humility allows us to grow without self-imposed restraints.
Humility does not prevent us from caring about ourselves but rather broadens our potential to love many people at the same time.
Without humility we truly are an island, and that is a lonely existence at best.
A Moment with Bill
WHERE DOES EGO COME FROM?
Of course we all have a degree of ego. I believe in a healthy sense of self, and that certainly implies some ego does it not? However, egotism, an exaggerated sense of self-importance, is another creature altogether.
So how does a healthy sense of self become an exaggerated sense of self-importance? I do not know. Whenever I think of egotism I think of Donald Trump. Now that may not be fair to Sir Donald, but I promise to always be honest in my articles so there you have it. Mr. Trump, to me, is a walking, talking personification of egotism. There seems to be no balance with that man. It is all for him and none for anyone else, and that is seriously unbalanced in my opinion.
Again, I do not know where this thing called egotism comes from. I see it daily. Have you ever had a conversation with someone and all they want to do is talk about themselves? Egotism! Have you ever listened to sports stars and movie celebrities, and when they are done talking you realize that all they did was talk about how wonderful they are? Egotism! Have you ever worked for a corporation where the CEO takes home millions in bonuses while his employees barely make minimum wage? Egotism! Have you ever……well, of course you have.
How did it make you feel when you were in the company of an egotist? Did you feel as though you were unimportant? That you didn’t count? Of course it did. We all feel that way when it becomes obvious that we are being de-valued by someone’s words or actions.
How is your ego? How is your humility? Which end of the spectrum do you currently sit on?
The first secret
- The Secret of Life: The First Secret
The first in a series discussing what is important in life. Join the author as he reflects on his findings during his lifetime.
The third secret
- The Secret of Life: The Third Secret
Are you looking for the secret to life and happiness? You might just find it has always been inside of you waiting to break free.
The fourth secret
- The Secret of Life: The Fourth Secret
The next in my series about finding the meaning of life, and by extension about finding happiness and contentment.
FINDING NECESSARY BALANCE
I am as important as anyone reading this article. However, I am no more important. Therein lies the truth about humility and ego.
We live in a society, a congregate of human beings all trying to interact together in search of life, liberty, and happiness. A society functions best when it functions on equal footing. No man or woman is more important than any other man or woman. In this Utopian vision, all members of society will work together, play together, and function as a cohesive until for the common good.
When that does not happen; when a person or group of people declares that they are more important than anyone else, we then have egotism and we then have problems.
Today I find that I am happiest when I am working within society for the common good. I am happiest when I realize that I cannot control the world, and that I am much better off simply trying to lead my life to the best of my ability. I am happiest when I am a contributing part of a brotherhood; not the leader but an important part nonetheless.
There was a quote on the desk of Dr. Bob, one of the founding members of Alcoholics Anonymous. The quote was about humility; it is called the Humility Prayer and it goes something like this:
“Perpetual quietness of heart. It is to have no trouble. It is never to be fretted, or vexed, irritable or sore; 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, it is to have a blessed home in myself where I can go in and shut the door and kneel to my Father in secret and be at peace, as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and about is seeming trouble.”
Perpetual quietness of heart! Doesn’t that sound marvelous? I have never found that state of being, but the days when I am the closest to it are the days I realize that I am not the center of the universe. The days when I realize that I am just a simple human being, one of billions, and that I am no better or worse than all the others, those are the days when I am at peace, and those are the days when I am the closest to finding the secret of life.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)