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What Is Humility? (An Opinion)

Updated on January 24, 2012

Humility is possibly one of the most difficult character traits to possess.

One of the first lessons I learned regarding humility was in ninth grade English class at Jennie F. Snapp School. Having already been bitten by the writing bug I was delighted when the class received an assignment to write a composition about what we thought Heaven was like.

The day after handing in our papers, Mr. Reber read out loud those assignments which he considered to be exceptional. I could hardly sit still, hoping he would read MY paper.

The anticipated moment arrived. As the teacher read the first sentence wherein I recognized it to be written by me, I burst with excitement. I turned around to the student sitting at the desk behind me. I whispered, loudly, "It's MINE, It's MINE!" Everyone in the room heard me.

Mr. Reber abruptly stopped reading. He looked straight at me, and he stated, "Yes, Lea, It IS yours!" He then commented on my rudeness, as well as, my boastful attitude. Afterwards, as he continued reading my paper, I shrunk in my seat, upset and humiliated.

Looking back now, I am aware of two things:

1-People forget. I suspect neither Mr. Reber nor one person in that class remembers that day. However, I will never forget it.

2-I credit that day as one of value to myself - the beginning of my journey down the road to self-discovery and humility.

Over the years others have been instrumental in bringing attention to my shortcomings. I refer to these people as my angels of mercy. Through it all I have learned humility is self-worth and acceptance of me as a total be-ing instead of do-ing only to please others.

Here are a few additional lessons I have learned about humility, mostly from my own personal experiences:

-Humility begins with gratitude for life itself and thankfulness if I awaken each day with health and a job to do.

-Humility is when you do not demand special treatment because of what you have accomplished or what your name is. Inner fulfillment comes from those who serve from their hearts rather than from obligation or resentment.

-Humility is humor - being able to laugh at your own mistakes, but not the mistakes of others.

-Humility is being charismatic rather than aggressive. It is beauty without vanity. It is winning without boasting and losing without discouragement. It is confidence without arrogance, sincerity without superficiality and compassion without pity.

-Humility is being an outgoing individual without attempting to attract attention to oneself. It is being better without being better than.

Finally, the Bible states, "He who humbles himself shall be exalted," while a Yiddish proverb reads, "Too humble is half proud."

Most important, I do not believe humility is an achievement. It is a daily education, learned mostly through our shortcomings but benefiting us for good in the long run.

Blessings always, Sincerely, Sparklea :)


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    • Sparklea profile image

      Sparklea 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Marcy, thank you! My hope was to inspire anyone who reads this. God continues to keep me humble on a day-to-day basis! I so appreciate your taking time to read this, as you are definitely a very busy hubber! Means a lot. You are an incredible writer! Blessings, Sparklea :)

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 6 years ago from Planet Earth

      I needed to read this hub - I often agonize over things I've done that were embarrassing or impetuous. You make a great point here - those scenes that play out in our minds again and again are usually forgotten by others who may have been there. Wow - what a lesson!

    • profile image

      Sparklea 6 years ago

      Oh, James, you have no idea how much your comment means to me. Very encouraging, especially for someone like me who is so passionate about writing! Thank you so much and thank you from my heart for voting up! Blessings, Sparklea :)

    • JamesPoppell profile image

      JamesPoppell 6 years ago

      You really hit the nail on the head with this hub. This is the best explanation of humility I have ever read. I had a similar incident like you had in ninth grade English. As I read your hub, I was able to feel the same emotions you felt. This is when you know your reading a really good writer. Thanks so much for sharing. Vote up!

    • profile image

      Sparklea 6 years ago

      glmclendon, thank you very much. YOU are a star! Love your heart thoughts which you genuinely express through your writing. Blessings Sparklea :)

    • glmclendon profile image

      glmclendon 6 years ago

      Good writing. You are a star!

      Stay Well

    • profile image

      Sparklea 6 years ago

      Shimmering Dawn, Thank you for your wonderful, kind words. May your days be blessed also. It is a blessing to receive your note. Peace to you! God bless, Sparklea :)

    • shimmering Dawn profile image

      shimmering Dawn 6 years ago

      Beautifully written out treatise. It is our angels of mercy who our our greatest contributors even though they may never know. The Meek shall inherit the earth... May your days be blessed and may you be a blessing to everyone who comes your way. Inspiring Piece!Shalom!

    • profile image

      Sparklea 6 years ago

      THANK YOU swb78! So much appreciate your comment. Blessings always Sparklea :)

    • swb78 profile image

      Scott Biddulph 6 years ago from Gainesville Georgia

      Very good definition of humility--nice work! Voting up!

    • profile image

      Sparklea 6 years ago

      glmclendon THANK YOU! I SO appreciate your feedback, and it encourages me to keep writing! Blessings always, Sparklea :)

    • glmclendon profile image

      glmclendon 6 years ago


      You hit it out of the ballpark once again.

      You have skill and a good choice of subjects.

      Stay Well

    • profile image

      Sparklea 6 years ago

      It's amazing how many, with whom I've shared that story about the teacher agree with your comment that he could have handled it differently. Thank you for your kind words and comments, so much appreciated. Sincerely, Blessings, Sparklea :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 6 years ago

      This is a reminder of what Christ valued and how he wanted us to understand the strength we gain from humility. I have to say though that your teacher could have handled your situation more positively. Thanks for the encouragement.