Humility for wisdom

My personal conviction is that the person who wants to grow wiser, to learn, to make progress in understanding, should prioritize first and always a goal of being more humble.

The more humble we can be, the fewer will be the hindrances to our learning.

Most obviously, we won’t learn as much from someone that we assume knows less than we do, and we won’t even try to learn about something if we assume we are already great at it.

As well, being humble seems to bring with it an openness to reality. Humility travels with amazement. If I’m not constantly believing or fighting to believe that I’m the summit of all things, then I’m able to see more dispassionately the other amazing things and thoughts and people I encounter.

Humility is often a challenge to cultivate. I don’t know what it is in the human heart that seems to cling to illusions about ourselves even when it harms us. But we really do make monumental efforts to deceive ourselves and those around us.

Being humble isn’t in itself a way to impress people. If you’re content to let people believe unflattering things about you, even things that aren’t fully true, because you have less of a stake in convincing the world how great you are, then many people will doubtless end up thinking less of you.

What I’m absolutely convinced of, though, is that in the long run, the humble person is the one who can really grow and improve, in ways that the proud cannot even conceive of as possible. The proud may have an illusive, transitory impressiveness, but it is the humble who may someday be truly great.

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