How to Practice Humility

”’Mother Theresa once said, “Humility is the mother of all virtues; purity, charity, and obedience. It is in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted and ardent.” These words ring true, but you don’t have to be Mother Theresa, or even religious at all, to make an effort to practice humility in your everyday life. Being humble means accepting your limitations and making an effort to make the world a better place without wanting to take all the credit.

Part 1

Developing a More Humble Mindset


Don’t think you’re too good for everything you do. People who have big egos tend to think that they deserve to be working at a better place, to be dating someone better, or even to be hanging out with people who are interesting and cooler. But your life is your life, and if you want better things, then you have to work to reach for them, instead of assuming the attitude that you’re not getting treated fairly. To practice humility, work to accept the life you have while striving for more without complaining.

  • If you adopt the attitude that you’re too cool for school, people will become allergic to you. Instead, work to be grateful for what you have and work to earn more, if that’s what you want.
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Be an optimist. People who practice humility are naturally optimistic because they don’t waste their time complaining about all of the bad things that have happened to them or dreading the future. Instead, they’re grateful what they have and they expect good things to happen in the future. Humble people don’t expect to be given good things on a silver platter, but they do believe that good things will happen to them if they work hard enough.

  • Work on being excited about all of the things the future holds instead of expecting catastrophe to strike at any moment.
  • Though it’s a good idea to be prepared for the worst, you should work on finding the silver lining in almost every situation.
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Accept that you’re not the best at everything. To get in a more humble mindset, you have to accept the fact that you’re not the best at everything—or even anything. No matter how great you are at surfing, singing, or writing fiction, there will always be someone who is more knowledgeable than you are, and that’s okay. Instead of acting like you have the final say on something, be open to the fact that you’re constantly evolving and improving, and know that other people can help you get there.

  • If you act like you’re the best at something, you’ll come off as arrogant. Instead, show people that, while you’re proud of what you know or what you can achieve, you’re always wanting to do more.
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Know that humility is not false modesty. It’s one thing to be humble and another thing to be falsely modest. If you spent all weekend working on a project for work and your boss tells you you did a great job on Monday, don’t say, “It was nothing.” Tell him that you’re glad he liked it and that you’re happy to have put a lot of work into it. You may think that shrugging off your achievements will make you look more modest, but in reality, it will actually make you come off as more arrogant.[1]

  • Sure, it can be kind of awkward when people are praising you. However, you should accept credit where credit is due instead of acting like it was no big deal.
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Recognize your flaws. If you want to practice humility, then you have to be aware of the fact that you’re not perfect. If you think that you’re a flawless human being, then you’re not going to learn anything new in this world or grow as a person. Instead, it’s important to be self-aware and to know what you need to work on, so you can be humbled before others. A truly humble person knows that he has things to work on and makes an effort to get there.

  • Sure, it can be humbling to admit that you need to work on your social skills or that you’re not the world’s neatest person. But this can also lead you to work toward self-improvement.
  • Along with recognizing your flaws, it’s important to be able to accept the things you cannot change about yourself.
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Avoid bragging. To truly practice humility, you should avoid bragging or showing off as much as you can. While you may want to talk about your accomplishments, you should avoid sounding like you’re showing off as much as possible. If you worked hard to do something, then you can talk about it, but avoid talking about how rich, attractive, or successful you are, or people are likely to get the wrong impression about you. Instead, you should trust the fact that if you’re a really impressive person, other people will get a sense of it without you having to tell them.

  • People who truly practice humility focus much more on praising other people than on focusing on their own accomplishments.
  • The next time you catch yourself talking about something you’ve achieved, ask yourself whether you’re bragging or showing off, or just sharing something you’re truly proud of.
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Be grateful for what you have—and what you don’t. If you really want to practice humility, then you have to work on being grateful for everything the world has given you, from your health to your pet kitty. Don’t take anything for granted and know that it’s a privilege to even be reading an article online. You should also be grateful for the hardships and challenges you’ve faced, because they’ve made you into the person you are today.[
  • Of course, some people are a lot better off than others when it comes to the luck game. Just know that it’s what you do with your luck that matters, and that you should be grateful for what you have been given instead of complaining about what you don’t have.
  • Gratitude is essential for true humility. Work on making a list of everything you’re grateful for and add to it whenever you think of something else.

Part 2

Taking Action

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Stop talking. One way to practice humility is to spend more time listening than you do talking. If you spend all of your time talking about yourself or sharing your ideas, then you’ll be less likely to learn from others or to appreciate what they have to offer. Listening to other people will also make them feel important and cared for, and it can be very humbling to give others a listening ear and a bit of your time.
  • It can be very humbling to realize that other people have a perspective that is just as valid as yours, and that everyone around is also filled with worries, doubts, and hopes.
  • Become an expert at listening to people without interrupting them or giving them advice unless they ask for it.
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Give other people credit. If you want to practice humility, then the best thing you can do is to is to learn to give credit where it is due. If you’re praised for doing a report at work, make sure you mention that you couldn’t have done it without two of your coworkers. If you’re praised for scoring a goal at the soccer game, mention that you couldn’t have done it without your teammates. You are rarely responsible for 100% of your success, and it’s important to take the time to acknowledge all of the other people who made your success possible.

  • It will actually make you feel better to acknowledge that other people have worked hard, too. If you take all the credit without deserving it, then you’ll be practicing selfishness instead of gratitude.
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Admit when you’re wrong. One characteristic of a truly humble person is the ability to admit you’re wrong. If you’ve made a mistake, it can be very humbling to let people know that you’re aware of your missteps and that you’re apologetic about them. Don’t just be in denial or brush it under the rug. If you want to practice humility, then you have to accept that you’re not perfect and come to terms with admitting your mistakes and apologizing for them.[3
  • When you apologize to people, look them in the eyes, make your words genuine, and show them that the behavior won’t happen again. Let them see that you’re taking the time to truly apologize, and that you’re not just doing it out of obligation.
  • Of course, actions speak louder than words. To truly be forgiven, you have to work to not make the same mistake again.
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Go last. Whether you’re ordering at a family dinner, in line at the movies, or waiting to catch the bus, make an effort to let other people go before you once in a while. People who practice humility are aware that they’re not the most important people in the world, and they let other people go before them because they know that their time isn’t more important than anyone else’s. While you shouldn’t be a pushover, you should look for opportunities to let people go ahead of you if you want to practice humility.[4
  • There’s a real humility in saying, “After you.” Work on seeing that your time isn’t worth more than anyone else’s and letting other people have a chance before you do.
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    Ask for advice. It can be very humbling to admit that you don’t have all the answers and to defer to someone else. When something is troubling or puzzling to you, take the time to turn to a friend for advice or to ask a coworker to share his expertise. Be comfortable with admitting that other people have something that is useful to you and that you’re always open to learning more and improving as a person. Truly humble people know that knowledge is infinite, and they’re always asking others to share what they know.

    • Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know something. In fact, most people love sharing their knowledge with others and will be eager to help you.
    • You can even offer a bit of praise when you ask for advice. Just saying something like, “Hey, I know you’re a whiz at math, and I just can’t understand this problem,” will make a person feel great, as long as it doesn’t sound like you’re sucking up.
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Praise others. Another way to practice humility is to recognize other people for their achievements. Praise other people as much as you can, for being in awe of how hard your co-worker worked on a presentation to praising your sister for keeping her head up in a difficult situation. Praising others publicly, as long as you don’t embarrass them, can also be a great way to show your appreciation of others and to humble yourself before the strengths of other people.

  • Get in the habit of telling other people when they’re doing great at something. This can make both you and the person feel great.
  • Of course, make sure the praise is deserved. You don’t want the person to think that you just want something from him.
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Give compliments. If you want to practice humility, then you should always be open to complimenting other people, from telling them how great they look to complimenting aspects of their personality. As long as your compliments are genuine, you’ll be making other people feel better about themselves while practicing humility in the process. Truly humble people recognize that other people have endless qualities that are worth praising.

  • Even something simple like, “I love your earrings. They make your eyes stand out,” can really brighten a person’s day, and it takes very little effort.

Part 3

Living a Life Filled with Humility

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Volunteer. If you make volunteering a part of your routine, then you will be able to have a more humility-filled life. Whether you’re helping children and adults learn to read at your local library or working a soup kitchen in your community, volunteering can help you get in touch with your sense of gratitude and help people who really need you. It can be incredibly humbling to spend time with people who are grateful for your help, and it can make you be more gracious and less likely to feel entitled.[5]

  • Volunteer for the sake of it, not for the bragging rights. You don’t need to tell your fifty closest friends that you’re volunteering just to show off. Of course, if you’re genuinely proud and want to talk about it, that’s another thing.
  • Giving your time to help others can make you realize that you don’t always need to put yourself first. This can make you live a life filled with humility.
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    Don’t compare yourself to others. To practice gratitude on a regular basis, you should avoid comparing yourself to others, whether you’re jealous of your neighbors, your best friend, or even Taylor Swift. Focus on being grateful for what you have and enjoying your life on its own terms instead of thinking you need to have what your best friend or co-worker has to truly be happy. If you spend your life comparing yourself to others, then you will never feel like what you have is enough, and you won’t be humbled before all that you have been given.

    • You can admire other people and feel inspired to be better because of them. But if you covet what they have, you are likely to fall into feelings of bitterness that will keep you from enjoying your life.
    • Don’t gossip about people or put them down because you’re secretly jealous of them, either. Humble people only say nice things about people behind their backs.
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    Be teachable. People who practice humility are the first to admit that they don’t know everything. Whether you’re getting tips from a co-worker or a friend, it’s important to be open to new possibilities and new knowledge. Let people see that you think they have a lot to offer you, and avoid acting stubborn or like you know everything. Even if you may feel like an expert on a topic, remember that you can always learn more; it’s humbling to admit that you’re a student of life.[6]

    • Don’t get defensive when someone is trying to teach you something. If that person has pure intentions, then you should make an effort to hear him out.
    • You don’t want people to feel like you think you have all the answers, or they won’t be eager to share their experiences with you.
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    Practice anonymous kindness. If you want to practice humility, then not all of your kind deeds have to go noticed. Donate money to charity without telling a soul about it, or donate your old clothes without saying a thing. If you notice that a person’s parking meter is expired, throw in a few quarters. Help crowdfund a worthy project. Anonymously post a kind comment on a person’s blog. Take the time to do something nice without wanting anything in return, and you will be on your way to practicing humility every day.

    • If you’re the only person who is aware of the good you’ve done in the world, there is something especially humbling about the experience.
    • You can even write about the experience in a journal if you feel like telling someone.
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    Don’t complain so much. People who practice humility aren’t often seen complaining because they realize that life is precious and that they have so much to be grateful for. Sure, we’ve all had bad days, and it’s okay to vent once in a while, but you shouldn’t make a habit of it if you want to practice humility. Remember that so many people have it so much worse than you, and that complaining about every little thing that happened to you instead of focusing on the positive will keep you from practicing humility.

    • People are drawn to appreciative, positive people. If you complain all the time or form relationships based on complaining all the time, then you’ll be less likely to live a humility-filled life.
    • Whenever you catch yourself complaining about something, try to counter that comment with two positive comments.
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    Spend more time in nature. There’s something very humbling about being in nature, whether you take a long hike through the woods or you spend a day just lying on the beach. Nature can remind you that there are things bigger than ourselves and our problems out there, and that we should be in awe of the world instead of obsessing over all of our little problems or thwarted ambitions. Making a habit of being in nature more often can lead you to practice humility more.

    • Your problems won’t seem as severe when you’re standing at the base of a mountain. As corny as it sounds, being around nature will make you see that you’re just a grain of sand on the beach that is the universe, and that you should be thankful for what you have instead of bemoaning what you wish you had.
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    Spend more time around children. Children have a natural sense of wonder and almost never cease to be in awe of the universe. If you want to practice humility more often, then you should make a habit of spending more time with children. They’ll help you see the world through new, youthful eyes, and you’ll be able to rediscover some of the magic you may feel that you lost because of the daily grind. Making a habit of spending more time with kids, whether you spend more time with your own, volunteer with children, or help a friend out by babysitting, can help you practice humility regularly.

    • You may think that you have a lot to teach children and will feel humbled when you see that they have a lot to teach you, too. Listen to their perspective about the world and see how it can help you become a more humble, grateful person.
    • Being around children will help you rejuvenate your sense of wonder. This can help you be more appreciative of the world around you and it will keep you from taking anything for granted.


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    Practice yoga. Yoga is a practice devoted to being grateful for the body you have been given and your time on this earth. Though some yoga practices can be a great workout, too, the most important thing with yoga is being in touch with your mind and body and not taking a single one of your breaths for granted. If you want to work on practicing humility more, then you should make yoga a regular part of your life.[7]

    • Taking just 2-3 classes a week can transform the way you look at the world. If you feel like you just can’t make the time to go to a yoga class, you can practice at home.