How Humility Will Make You Happy with Yourself

Being happy with yourself is an inside job.

Happy with Yourself

The six or so inches between our ears give so many of us big problems.  My goal for this book is to find a peace of mind that comes through humility.  For only in a peaceful mind can any happiness exist.

A few of the humble adjectives that relate to our inner state are content, cheerful, loving, fulfilled, satisfied, at ease, matured, virtuous and true.  Don’t we all want these adjectives to describe us?

A friend reminded me once, that I was a human being and not a human doing.  Being comfortable “in your own skin”, “just being” is a confident place to be.  It’s a trait that requires us to understand our own worth apart from our accomplishments.

Who is really content I think to myself.  As a problem solver and a person of action, I seek out challenging problems to solve.  I like challenges and working hard, and I can still hear my mother words echoing, “Honey, make every move count.”

I even take on the ultimate problem of trying to discover my purpose in life and what does God want me to do. These questions can take you out of your comfort zone for sure.

So where is the balance?  What is the difference in living “in the rat race” of discontentment verses being a person who is both content and accomplished?

Do you find it difficult to separate your worth from your accomplishment

The difference has to do with where we see our value and our identity.  If we are working and striving out of a desire to be valuable, then we are in the rat race and a bad place.  If however, we approach our work from the point of view that we “are” valuable, regardless of the outcome of our task, then we work from a purer motivation, because we see our work as a contribution to our world.  This frame of reference makes a huge difference in our motivation and how we go about our lives and our tasks.

In the rat race our expectations define us and we are responsible for the outcome of our tasks.  If the outcomes are not what are expected, then we are a failure.  We are a failure not only to ourselves, but to all others who “buy in” to what we have sold to ourselves.  What have we bought?  That we alone are responsible for the failure to achieve the outcome we expect.  There is no place for God in this frame of reference, and this kind of thinking can be very painful.  For the mathematically inclined the formula looks like this.

Reality + Expectation = Pain and Disappointment


Reality – Expectation = Contentment

The contented and accomplished person’s worth is not in question when a goal is not achieved, because his worth is not rooted in the outcomes of his work.  He is valuable because he exists, and he realizes it.  A task’s outcome is seldom, if ever, controllable, and the outcomes are never fully known.  Who can control all the intended and unintended outcomes from the actions we take?   No human can, and sometimes in spite of our best efforts the ball bounces the other way.  Instead of focusing on what is uncontrollable, we must concentrate on doing our best and detach ourselves from the outcomes we can’t control.

Have you allowed your expectations and the expectations of others to give you misery?

So what if others are expecting a certain outcome and are looking to us to make it happen?  For example, our child is expecting to go to an exclusive university and they are depending on us to come through with the tuition.  These are tough situations for our egos to handle, but the person whose value is not contingent on certain outcomes has prepared himself and others for any outcome, and has the humility to accept whatever comes.  If the tuition does not manifest itself for the prestigious school, they view this not as a failure or a reduction in their value, but as a learning experience, an opportunity for improvement or a sign of divine direction.

I still struggle with linking my self-worth to my accomplishments…I sometimes fall into the trap of feeling I need to earn my way to feeling ok.  Did my 401K go up or down today?  Did I transact some business today?  Did my worth diminish or grow.  I feel up when it goes up and down when it goes down.  When my worth goes down, I can feel worth less.  How do we get trapped into such a value system, and how do we get out?

Sometimes the most important jobs don’t pay well.  Being a father, husband, friend or ministering to someone we care about may be number one on God’s priority list for our time.  Time is money, a voice nags at me.  Who will I listen to?  Do I be a father or work late?  The choice can seem brutal if our values remain unsettled.

Are you willing to accept life of life’s terms?

Byron Katie wrote a wonderful book a few years ago called “Loving What Is.”  In her book she tell the story of her own life.  She had struggled for years with thoughts that eventually destroyed her marriage, her relationship with her children, and her career.  Eventually she found herself waking up in a mental hospital.

One day she miraculously woke on the floor of the hospital and knew she had the answers to the mental anguish she had suffered with for so long.  She learned to accept the things in her life that she could not change.  Instead of struggling against reality, she embraced reality as being the way her life was supposed to be, simply because it was that way.  She learned to love what is, instead of arguing with it.

She goes on to say that most of the struggle that exists in a person’s life is struggling against reality.  I think of my own mid life crisis.  It makes me blush as I write my confession to using hair color.  Not that there is anything wrong with using hair color, but I used it hoping no one would notice.  It horrified me if someone noticed and they did.  It embarrassed me.  I even lied about it once.  Finally, I decided to embrace the fact that I was getting older…that my hair was turning gray.  And that I was becoming invisible to a whole generation of young people who cannot see gray haired people, and yes, invisible to young and beautiful women too.

Does your struggle against reality give you painful thoughts?

It has been 10 years since I read Byron Katie’s book and on many occasions I have done what she calls “The Work” on my thoughts, and with good success.  Using her technique, I overcame my phobia for flying, but I still struggle with always loving what is, and truthfully I think that is normal.  I must continually find my thought patterns that make me uncomfortable in my own skin.  The thoughts that get me out of a peaceful state and into striving, worry and regret must be constantly examined.

It’s a battle, but one that is worth fighting.  It takes humility to accept reality, and humility to overcome our stubborn vision of the way things are supposed to be.   It can be terrifying to release our vision of the way things ought to be, but are not, and to embrace that our current reality is the way things should be in our life for now, simply because it is what it is.  This takes a firm and courageous decision, extraordinary humility and a determined will.

“Is this the truth,” is a good question to ask ourselves.  Sometimes we believe painful lies about ourselves.  To believe a lie is to give power to a false reality.  If what we believe about ourselves is not the truth and we realize it, then it is easier to drop the thought and stop worrying about it.  That is why I have found it productive to analyze my painful thoughts.   At least I want to know if they are valid or not.

The Bible talks about taking our thoughts captive.  I like that visual, and even better I imagine torturing those painful thoughts that have been torturing me till they give me the truth.  When you expose the belief for the lie that it is, then you can put it out of your mind and life forever.  However, If you determine the thought is not a lie, then you must begin the harder work of accepting a hard truth about yourself or your situation.

Are you willing to trust God to work out the bad things that have come into your life?

In some areas of my life I continue to frustrate myself.  I am not yet willing to do what I am trying to help other to do.  It takes great trust to do it.  Trust that someone (God) is there to catch you when you fall…to trust that God is here and working good things out, and that reality is one of the tools God is choosing to use on my behalf to shape me into something better.  To trust that reality is truth, at least in this moment, continues to be tough for me.

If you have great trust then you don’t need great courage.  I remember my niece Heidi, when she was a little girl about 2 years old, she would jump off the refrigerator into my brother’s arms.  She wasn’t incredibly courageous, but she had lots of trust that her daddy was there to catch her.  She did it many times and he was always there to catch her.  One miss and it would have been another story.  Do we trust enough to believe that God is orchestrating and intervening through the turmoil and tragedies that are sometimes our life to eventually work out good from the bad?  Can we believe that God specializes in taking bad and reshaping it to bless us?  It’s a leap of faith to believe and it always will be.

It takes great humility to accept our reality and to trust that God is working through our circumstances to mold us into the work of art He desires, and to bring about his good purposes.  To stop struggling with reality and to come to humble acceptance adds happiness to our life.


The first in this series is The Power of Humility, the secret to being happy.    Or buy the book Power of Humility


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