How to be Humble

The title for this entry is meant to be in jest. If it were serious, it would be in grave arrogance to think that I could bestow a virtue unto someone that I don’t deem myself worthy of. I’m too damn young to be humble yet.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but as a man – I think it’s safe to say that puberty instilled a degree of hubris in me that still lingers. At least for me, that’s when I began to stray from the humility that my childhood had instilled in me and perhaps the very humility that was intrinsic to my nature.

Which begs the question, are we born humble?

I’ve frequently stated my belief that our childlike nature is closest to our true human nature. And that’s a recurring and core theme in my writing – detaching from our ego and returning to the true, childlike nature we were born with; because I think we were born pure.

You see, I have a hard time following any theological doctrine that posits all of humanity is born with Original Sin, which, as a creed, means that as a result of Adam and Eve disobeying G-d and eating from The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, all of their descendents became infected with the state of their transgression and serious spiritual consequences were transmitted to all of the human race since the Fall of Man.

That breathless sentence reaches far beyond the implicit meaning that we are born with an inclination to sin. Original Sin as an article of faith means that we are born as slaves to sin, and humanity alone cannot save itself from hell.

Interestingly, in the New Testament, the Gospel of Matthew 18:1-4 seems to contradict this

18:1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

And I must interject to offer a caveat of sorts to my readers:

I have a coexist sticker on the back of my car. I respect multiple faiths and beliefs. When I talk about beliefs, even in a secular sense, I like to explore the origins of cultural ethea, which ultimately leads to religion. My personal approach to philosophy is that this enriches my learning and gives my writing a deeper foundation rooted in the rich cultural history of mankind. We cannot ignore the fact that many of our core beliefs are rooted in traditions that began thousands of years ago, and they have thus been instilled within us.

But for myself, to believe that we are born impure is simply antithetical to the ‘world’ I want to bring children into. And I may have arrived in into this world after ~100 generations of my ancestors believing their children were conceived and born in sin – but I will conceive my children on a boat out of pure love and delightful pleasure.

And yes, I just went down the rabbit hole a bit, but that’s the joy of writing and having your own damn blog.

Back to humility.

So, we are born without pride – right? Or are we born with humility? Or, are we just born with a blank, pure white slate?

I didn’t really answer that, I just postulated that we aren’t born as depraved, hopeless sinners. Which doesn’t pit me at odds with every Abramaic religion, but certainly is counter to a tenet which is core to the doctrine of the most popular faiths.

Fine by me, we all know what happened to the popular kids in high school.

So, I will further expand upon my black sheep mentality and say that yes, we are born with humility. As I conveyed in my previous post, Changing the Context of Your Life, our beliefs are extremely important to the manner in which we perceive the world.

And being born with humility, what happened? How did we become so arrogant, and prideful?

Oh yeah, life happened. We didn’t grow up in the Garden of Eden and we don’t get to look back on some linear progression of our personality tracing straight back to our youth. We’ve all but forgotten the children we were.

As we faced things in the real world we began to develop an ego as we discovered a sense of ‘self’ and we erected all these facades and attitudes that were completely oppositional to humility.

We packed on baggage as if there were some inherent buoyancy that we needed to stay afloat.

And in my life, I became an outlier on the spectrum of pride and arrogance. I wasn’t an outlier because I was less-so either.

Sure, I was still a nice guy and was certainly never mean-spirited by nature, but I made choices, in my values, in my heroes, and in my relationships that pigeonholed me into a very uncreative person who based my identity on others’ perceptions of me. Quite simply, I used pride an arrogance in an attempt to convince others I was worthy.

And by the time I was 21, I had convinced myself of that as well.

But then, more life happened.

But, here’s where it gets interesting. You see, eventually it was life’s adversity that truly began to humble me; although, in my early twenties life’s toughest challenges didn’t yet have that effect.

I experienced things that brought me to an all time low and they may have dented my ‘healthy self esteem’, but I only overcompensated with more pride and arrogance as I rose through the valleys and out of the ashes of my self-pity.

And I found ‘success’ again temporarily. But, as it is said pride comes before the fall. So, in my success I became super-arrogant. As if my attitude was ‘I’ve made it through my troubles on my own and I’m out of the woods because I dragged myself to higher ground on my own, and look at me now’.

But when the fall eventually came, everything that I had built on that foundation of pride and arrogance crashed down and left me in an abysmal state that lingered for a good couple years. I tried to recreate the same success and I tried to do it on the same foundation and it never even got off the ground. It backfired. Only now, my identity was so clouted in baggage that I didn’t even see how detached from my true-self that I had become.

It is said that rock bottom is when you stop digging. And for me, I couldn’t go lower – because I had finally disproved my pride and my arrogance to myself. I saw what perhaps only one other person in the world did.

In paragraph one, I wrote that I’m too damn young to be humble yet. And that’s partly true. But life has started to humble me.

I came to a couple realizations lately:

Realization #1: At a certain point in life you are faced with a kind of choice. You can either stop giving a fuck, or start giving one.

Realization #2: I always felt superior to the kind of guys who ‘didn’t start getting their shit together till about 30’ or I thought I had it together at 21 and at 24.

So, yes. I officially give a fuck. About everything that matters. That encompasses a lot today.

Yeah, I’m getting it together. On many fronts.

Those are just a couple byproducts of this shift in my persona from arrogant and prideful to the more humble guy who is writing this tonight.

But, it didn’t happen overnight. It was a journey.

Do you really want to know how to become humble?

Here are the steps:

1. Start out with excessive pride and arrogance based off of external things.

2. Experience heart break.

3. Let your life go to ruin and move to a new city, close to the beach.

4. Spend six months in said city drinking frequently and feeling sorry for yourself, until you are dead broke.

5. Move back in with your mom and get a job as a busboy.

6. Continue to fixate your identity on external things.

7. Spend another year working on an internet business until it takes off

8. Earn your prior income approx every month, spend all of it.

9. Get back with the girl who broke your heart.

10. In 9 months, let everything go to shit again – leaving yourself in another new city alone.

11. Move to a large Midwestern city for 9 months, repeating step 4.

12. Move back home to moms or to a friend’s couch.

13. Find amazing girl.

14. Continue to behave like self-entitled jerk with large chip on shoulder.

15. Move to another new city for a job, but quickly let life go to shit.

16. Get to brink of losing girl from step 13.

17. Realize that all of this pain doesn’t have to keep repeating itself and that you are a better person without all of the baggage.

18. Be humble!

It worked for me.

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