Why Is It Important to Stay Humble?

coworkers fistbumping

Johner Images / Getty Images

What Is Humility?

Humility is the ability to view yourself accurately as an individual with talents as well as flaws while being void of arrogance and low self-esteem.

Humility is not always acknowledged as a relevant trait to possess, but it is in fact a remarkable character strength.

Humility isn’t always seen as a strength but sometime’s thought of as a weakness. Some believe that humility is having low opinions of yourself, low self-esteem, and a lack of confidence. It is in fact the opposite, humility is having the self-esteem to understand that even though you are doing well, you do not have to brag or gloat about it. 

Benefits of Being Humble

It is important to stay humble because having humility not only helps you develop a more kind approach to interacting with others but it also influences how you perceive yourself and the world around you.

Strengthens Connection With Others

Humility helps one extend more compassion and empathy to others. Those who practice humility are more likely to consider others’ beliefs and opinions. This is most likely because humility offers the opportunity to become less self-involved and more attuned with the feelings of others.

This is because humility offers the opportunity to become less self-involved and more attuned with the feelings of others.

If you're able to be happy for others and their accomplishments and not be consumed by jealousy or self-pity, this can help your develop more positive relationships.

Broaden's Perspective of Self

Humility also helps in the development of self-growth and self-awareness, because it allows one to rationally acknowledge ways in which they can improve themself.

Humility can produce more happiness, positive emotions, and well-being because a person has a clearer understanding of the self. They are able to be comfortable with who they are and who they are not. 

In a study evaluating undergraduate students' perspectives of humility, researchers found humility to be associated with positive emotion and good psychological adjustment.

Broaden's Perspective of the World

Humility can help develop a more profound and evolved outlook of the world and what is going on in it. Humility allows you to consciously be aware that you bring worth to this world but that there are many others in the world who also have a purpose

Strengthens Connection Between Spirituality, Religion & Well-Being

Humility is a religious virtue. There is a correlation between humility, positive well-being, religion, and spirituality

Researchers discovered that for those with a moderate amount of humility, as opposed to lower levels, humility acts as a moderator that helps facilitate positive psychological functioning for those who consider themselves religious or spiritual.

According to researchers, these results could indicate that a person must have some form of humility in order for humility to act as a moderator to these factors. 

How to Be More Humble

Let's take a look at ways in which you can learn to be more humble.

Don't Mix Up Pride With Prideful

Most would consider humility the antonym of pride and may associate pride as being a bad trait to possess.

Pride is not a negative thing, it is actually quite important. Pride comes from being proud and there is nothing wrong with being proud of yourself or where you come from.

Taking pride in yourself, your culture, your achievements, etc. are great qualities. It’s important to embrace who you are, what you’ve accomplished and the journey it took to get there.

Pride is the appreciation of yourself and your beliefs, it is having confidence and assurance that you are an important and relevant contribution to this world.

However, if pride becomes extreme that is when humility is absent and a person may exhibit selfish or narcissistic behaviors.

If a person begins to think they are better than others and only makes decisions that depend on what’s best for them, they are considered self-centered and prideful. Obsessive pride makes it difficult to be considerate to others or form genuine relationships. People who are too prideful may not notice or realize that there are areas in which they can improve on.

Prideful people may also find it difficult to be self-aware when they are in the wrong.

Do Some Soul Searching

Usually, those who are prideful display a cockiness that often stems from unidentified insecurities. Overly high self-esteem is not actually confidence but in fact repressed negative emotions towards oneself.

Researchers in the field of social psychology found individuals who displayed egotism and narcissism presented higher levels of “displaced aggression” when hearing insults that threatened their egos.

Understand Yourself Better

Insecurities that people don't often acknowledge could be the source of egotistic or self-righteous behavior to protect oneself from criticism from others or rejection. It’s important to evaluate if overly high self-esteem may originate from your own insecurities or past experiences. A mental health professional can help you get some more insight into who are you and who you would like to be.

Give Out Compliments When You Can

Acknowledging the achievements and accomplishments of others can help you move the focus off of yourself a bit.

Compliment people for jobs well done. Focusing on the feelings of others sometimes helps you get out of yourself more.

We all need to hear from others every now and then that we’re on the right track, so be the person that assures someone they’re doing OK.

Don't Be a Pushover

Don’t confuse humility with compliancy. Holding people to high regard and consideration does not mean you must allow them to walk all over you.

You should always stand up for yourself and what you believe and do your best no matter what. The point of humility is that you do not have to make someone feel worthless while doing so. This doesn't mean becoming a pushover though.

Allowing others to take advantage of you can take a toll on your well-being. This also impacts an individual’s confidence and can cause resentment, so be sure to consider yourself while considering others.

Humility Is Underrated

Many people do not realize how essential it is to be humble. This may be because they do not fully understand the concept or have yet to learn what it means to be humble.

Humility in Society

After coming across a survey evaluating life satisfaction in middle-aged adults, experts in positive psychology found it concerning that humility and modesty were not highly recognized character traits that equated to life satisfaction. This discovery forced them to reflect on America’s culture in regards to how we view such traits as humility. 

In a very communist society, individuals embed a “survivor of the fittest” mindset, in which the stronger and better reach the top, so people are forced to develop a “ lookout for your own” viewpoint. People are exposed to consistent competition as children where they're competing for attention in academia, athletics, and the home. Later, in adulthood, this competitive nature rears its head in career settings.

Similar ideologies are present in what both children and adults watch and listen to. The culture of the entertainment industry, such as music, television, and other sources often consuming our attention, finds a need to portray very vain and egocentric concepts.

In a study including undergraduate students, humility was not viewed as a quality necessary for entertainers or leaders. This makes it difficult to understand the need for humility not just in how we engage with each other, but in how we view the world.

A Word From Verywell

Even if you were the best at something this time, be modest because you just may not be the best next time around, and that’s OK. Accept failure graciously whenever it occurs and humbly support others by giving someone else their flowers and a standing ovation when it's due. Sometimes you won't be the one on the stage receiving the flowers and it can feel just as satisfying in the audience, sitting down and being humble. 

7 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Tangney JP. Humility: Theoretical perspectives, empirical findings and directions for future research. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. 2000;19(1):70–82. doi:10.1521/jscp.2000.19.1.70

  2. Harvey JH. Pauwels BG. Modesty, humility, character strength, and positive psychology. Social and Clinical Psychology. 2005;23(5): doi:10.1521/jscp.23.5.620.50753

  3. Van Tongeren DR, Davis DE, Hook JN, Witvliet C vanOyen. Humility. Current directions in psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society. 2019;28(5):463-468. doi:10.1177/0963721419850153

  4. Exline JJ, Geyer AL.Perceptions of Humility: A Preliminary Study. Self and Identity. 2004;95-114. doi:10.1080/13576500342000077

  5. Kellenberger J. Humility. University of Illinois Press.2010;47(4):321-336.

  6. Paine DR, Sandage SJ, Ruffing EG, Hill PC. Religious and Spiritual Salience, Well-Being, and Psychosocial Functioning Among Psychotherapy Clients: Moderator Effects for Humility. J Relig Health. 2018;57(6):2398-2415. doi:10.1007/s10943-018-0612-4

  7. Bushman BJ, Baumeister RF. Threatened egotism, narcissism, self-esteem, and direct and displaced aggression: does self-love or self-hate lead to violence?. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1998;75(1):219-229. doi:10.1037//0022-3514.75.1.219

By Tiara Blain
Tiara Blain, MA, is a freelance writer for Verywell Mind. She is a health writer and researcher passionate about the mind-body connection.