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The Secret of Life: The Fifth Secret

Updated on February 7, 2013

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.

The search for happiness and the secret of life
The search for happiness and the secret of life | Source

A SOLID FOUNDATION FOR LIFE

Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.
Saint Augustine

Egotism is the source and summary of all faults and miseries.
Thomas Carlyle

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?

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:

Humility is…..

“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)

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    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 4 years ago from Hudson, FL

      I just read the book "Feeling Good" that came out 20 years ago. Wait. The 80's were 30 years ago? Geesh. Anyway . . .

      One of the issues we have when we're depressed is that we have these feelings that we're worthless--our accomplishments are diminished and the mistakes we make are magnified. I think that this is a sort of egotism as well: an imbalanced focus on ourselves and our own situations. How we should be "better", whatever that means. We tend to mistake self-loathing for humility, when it's actually the opposite.

      Your articles get my mind going, Bill, so I'm going to blame my little bunny trail here on you. LOL I love ya.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      I couldn't agree more about humility and it is ironic you write about this, because this past weekend we were just dealing with someone related to us is anything but this type of person. This person is related to Kevin and always has to be the center of attention and expects the world to revolve about them. It is sad that just when you think they have put their ego behind them, they really haven't. I think we can all have these tendencies don't get me wrong, but it is knowing better to try one's best to suppress them and be more fair to helping others and not trying to make others feel like the are beneath them. Thank you for sharing this here today and you know I have voted up and shared all over!!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      If we could all practice humility..someways I have it as we all do. However many things do bother me when I feel left out or not appreciated..However it passes...And for the time I feel the most humility is when I am not dwelling upon the wrong doings of others. Great hub with a good message. Voting up and sharing around.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Liz, what a great point you made, and now you have me thinking. I blame myself quite a bit for not being a good enough writer. Interesting perspective. Thanks for that; now I have something to think about while I writer mindless SEO for customers this morning.

      Blame me all you want; I have broad shoulders. LOL No, I really don't.

    • onegreenparachute profile image

      Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

      Mornin' Bill. It's funny how ego works. One minute I think I'll never get the hang of this writing thingy and I'm totally useless in this field and the next I'm expecting a journalistic genius to spy my hubs and sign me up! (sigh) It's ALL about ME! Thanks for a reality check! Up, awesome and shared.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Janine, i know several people like this and I have little to do with them. One in particular can't figure out why people avoid him....duh! This isn't rocket science....give as much as you take you idiot!!!!! LOL Thanks Janine; you know you are appreciated here and always will be.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carol, that was an interesting statement you just made...new food for thought. ...when not dwelling upon the wrong doings of others. Whew! Now I have some thinking to do. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      onegreen....LOL....I think to be a writer you better have a healthy dose of ego because there are quite a few days when we are the entire cheering section. :) Thanks for that self-effacing comment. I think we can all relate.

    • grandmapearl profile image

      Connie Smith 4 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Billy, we've come a long way haven't we? Thankfully those days of awkward self-conscience moments that seemed to last an eternity are behind us at this point. But I think we had to experience them to come to your insightful point. Not dwelling on ourselves is a major challenge that needs to be met. I'm still struggling with that challenge! Voted Up, Useful and Awesome,

      Pearl

    • Lastheart profile image

      Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill 4 years ago from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord

      I definitely love "THE JOYS OF HUMILITY". Up across and sharing!! oh and pinning. Spreading Billy that is how we help with what is happening and that was the answer you thought you can not answer. Words are tricky. Lol!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Wonderful Bill. "I have climbed to the peak of many mountains, it helps to remind me how small I am"

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hi Pearl! It's always nice to see you drop by. My goodness those days were awkward, and soooo painful. LOL Little did we know how tough things were going to be in the future. I'm glad I'm where I'm at right now.

      Thank you my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lastheart, great point my friend and you are right. We just have to keep spreading the message and hopefully others will read and internalize that message. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eric, you are so right. I've stood on the mountaintops of several mountains, and it is a humbling experience.

    • sherrituck profile image

      Sherri Tuck 4 years ago from Virginia

      I love your introduction. When I teach a communication class, I always stress the importance of listening. When we fail to listen to others we miss out on some very important lessons as I am sure you have found in your quest to find the secrets of life. Great hub!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sherri, I agree completely. I think listening is becoming a lost art in today's world and I find that sad.

      Thank you, Sherri!

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      Hi Bill another great read. 'Perpetual quietness of heart' now doesn't that sound like heaven, about as close as we could get.

      The sad thing is that egotistical people just don't realise what they are missing out on, we give up listening. They can shout from the top of a mountain but those below if they hear anything at all it is only an echo.

      Wonderful series Bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rosemay, that was a great line...only an echo. Indeed my friend!

      Thank you! You are so right about egotistical people; they are incapable of listening and learning.

    • Trinity M profile image

      Trinity M 4 years ago

      Hello dear friend; what a wonderful, soul-soothing read this hub has been. And as for the “perpetual quietness of heart”… what an admirable state to strive for; I LOVE the way it sounds. Recently I read something similar… “present moment awareness x equanimity = The Peace of God” and that is what I strive for every day! Sometimes it is near impossible to attain but some days are just perfect; and that is really all one can ask.

      So nice to have read one of your hubs and to get a dose of “Bill”; sure puts a smile on my face :) Have a great day dear friend, sending all my love and hugs your way.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Trinity my dear, you bring a smile to my face each and every time you visit. Thank you dear lady. Perpetual quietness of heart...it really does sound marvelous, doesn't it? Now to actually reach that spot in life.

      love always,

      bill

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Very well said, Billy. It is our own private Utopia where we are happiest.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It is indeed, Deb. I'm still looking for it but I'm closer than I've ever been before. :) Thank you my friend.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Bill, you offer words of wisdom that envoke one to go inside and take a good look. Too often we become absorbed in our own well being that we don't see the world around us. That's not good, it's not healthy and it's no way to live life - this wonderful life - to the fullest.

      I love your growth and self-realization. As you discover, you encourage me to take a second look and correct my path. You say you are not a leader, but I beg to differ. Ok, maybe not a leader, but one who reaches into the depths of the souls of those who are willing to listen.

      I love you, my friend!

      Sha

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Shucks, Sha, I'm just flapping my jaws and spouting some words. A lot of this is a reminder to me to keep my act together.....the rest of it just seems to me to be common sense, something that is sorely missing in society today.

      Thank you my friend and yes, I love you too.

      bill

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      What a wonderful series! I have struggled with egotism -vs- humility before, and it can be a fierce battle! But I am happiest when I am not dwelling too much on myself.

      Bill, Keep on "flapping your jaws". The words that come out of your mouth (and onto your keyboard) are thought-provoking and soothing.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kathryn, thank you so much. I hope you have your provisions in house and you are ready for the storm. Stay safe and I hope to hear good news from you once the storm has passed.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I love your ideas for finding a balance between humility and ego, Bill, and for understanding the difference between ego and egotism.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Alicia! It has been a battle for me most of adulthood. :)

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Hmmm...I'm thinking...did I miss a secret? I have to back track and find out.

      Another outrageously profound hub....I am especially moved by the powerful ending....below, "humility is..." Oh yes....Amen and grant us that "perpetual quietness of the heart".....so we can embrace it, tightly....UP+++

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Thanks for sharing such an interesting Hub, the childhood years are mostly remembered when one gets older.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Another great article Bill. I think humility starts when we begin to put others first. That's why it is so important to teach a child early to share. I also think meditation is a wonderful way to keep the ego at bay......

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      Ego is the part of our personality that defines who we are. However, high ego makes us too insular. I enjoyed reading your perspective on life.

      Regards

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Paula, if I ever find that perpetual state I'll let you know. It's something to shoot for, though. :) Thank you my friend and good luck with the snow storm.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you DDE.....learning lessons is what life is all about. How else do we grow as humans?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruby, great point about child raising. As for meditation, I have found it to be incredibly peaceful and a great avenue for growth. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Vinaya and I agree with your words about ego.

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Though I no longer go the church and I'll never be a bible thumper, Bill, I was educated in the Catholic Schools and the humility that your write about is what I remember in learning about the saints. The saints were simple human beings that found their bliss with a purpose in helping others. Joseph, a carpenter, Jesus, a street teacher, St. Francis, an advocate for wildlife, and Mother Theresa worked everyday in relentless poverty to make the lifes of suffering children and families bearable. Not one of them was perfect. There is a book about Mother Theresa, who kept a journal that reveals that in times of her deepest despair, she questioned God's existence among the unrelenting misery she strived to relieve. Yet, she continued where her conscience led her and after her death was canonized a saint for her life's dedication to her chosen path. I don't know anyone personally who would choose to spend their life in abject poverty, battling everyday to make a difference, while seeing only hints of some dim light at the end of an endless tunnel of human suffering. From what I can see, Mother Theresa was the closest person to remain beyond the influence of ego. Though her quest was not easy, and would be too ugly for the egotistical to bear, I believe she was happy working to make even a small difference for every person she met. From the poor space she inhabited, though it was not her intention, she was known, respected and loved in all corners of the world.

      Thank you for an inspiring reminder, Bill, that the greatest joy is waiting for those who will step outside themselves and give something of themselves to the world.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Amy, the more I read about people like Mother Theresa the more I am in awe of them. That kind of selfless love for humanity is so rare as to seem a myth. I don't think the average American can really grasp what kind of sacrifice and belief in a higher good it requires. Although I understand it I also know it is not in me to sacrifice that much. I wish it was but it is not. :)

      Thank you dear lady; enjoy your weekend and know that you are greatly appreciated on the west coast.

      bill

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      I have a theory about how egotism can take hold. I think their is a pocket of people who, far from seeing themselves as all-important, actually have inferiority issues. They imagine others can see their imagined faults so they tried to hide behind a wall of superiority. I think a lot of people do this to a certain extent, but with the egoist doesn't seem to know when to stop. I've met many an egocentric in my day and I often wonder weakness are they over-compensating for.

      My two pence (cents).

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Phoenix, I agree with that theory. Here we call it the "little man syndrome" and it is a pretty accurate statement. I think it would be sad to go through life like that, over-compensating for things we see as weakness. I'm glad I'm 5'10" tall. LOL Thank you and have a great weekend in the UK.

    • picklesandrufus profile image

      picklesandrufus 4 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      Humility is a wonderful human characteristic. Until we find it, we cannot know balance. I agree, the Donald is a great example of an over inflated ego...what a mess he is:)....comical really. Nice hub, Billybuc!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Pickles! It is a tough balance to find, but once you find it you realize the beauty in it.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Interesting hub. I would add that there are many people who, while they profess their humility, are some of the supreme egocentrics of the world. Look at famous movie stars who continually tout their good deeds, but only when their latest movie is about to hit the big screen or famous people who preach about saving electricity and going green only to hop on their private jet. Like you said, everyone needs to find a balance on this.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glimmer, that is a great point and one I have observed often. It's real easy to proclaim humility; it is much harder to live it. :) Thanks for a great point made.

    • Jamie Brock profile image

      Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

      Bill- I never thought I had an ego problem, of course, until AA. The reason why is because I hated myself.. someone pointed out that that was ego and I was still making it all about me. It pissed me off but I understood and since I've tried not to make conversations all about myself and do the "whoa is me" thing and I can pick it out in others really quick. I find that I do tend to hit on personal issues sometimes in your comments and that too is ego. I crave encouragement because I do not get any at home. OH!! There I go again!! LOL! So, anyway, I have a friend that when I talk to him on the phone, he will call and talk 3 hours about things going on in his life. He bullies the conversation and I know he doesn't even realize he does it. It has gotten to the point that I dread speaking with him over the phone. It's like you said, there has to be a balance. I've gotten way off the beam but I'm trying to take steps to get better. I just love reading your hubs! Thank you for another great hub, that I needed to read :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well shoot, Jamie, it is all about us! LOL To a certain extent, it is impossible for it not to be. We hear through our ear and see through our eyes. We feel through our heart and the tears cried are ours. I think that's only natural; what isn't natural is what you described about your friend, and if I ever get to be that way you have my permission to shoot me, or at least call me on my shit.

      I"m sorry you don't get encouragement at home. If you ever need someone to listen, I'm pretty easy to get hold of. :)

      Thank you my friend! I love when you visit.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Sorry I was so busy and missed this one. An excellent hub. Fining and maintaining the bLANCE BETWEEN HEALHTY HUMILITY AND REASONABLE SELF-CONFIDENCE IS SO IMPORTANT. Sorry about the caps - I am a terrible typist and watch my hands. :( Hope you are doing well. Theresa

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Theresa, I am doing well and I hope you are as well. Lower case or UPPER CASE, I am just happy to hear from you. Thank you!

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