"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

Standing up and clapping for humility

By on July 23, 2018 in Columnist with 0 Comments

June DarlingBy June Darling

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.

— Rick Warren

Is humility a good thing?

“Oh, yes. Of course,” you may be thinking. “I wish exactly that for my superior-acting co-worker and arrogant boss.”

But humility may not be something we seek for ourselves. Why is that?

Maybe we don’t really understand what humility is. We don’t know the potential benefits.

What makes humility confusing is there are two types. One is called appreciative humility and has a lot going for it, it’s healthy.

The other type of humility researchers label self-effacing; it’s pretty close to shame, and is not so good for us at all.

Researchers say healthy humility often goes hand-in-hand with gratitude, being open to feedback, understanding one’s strengths and one’s weaknesses without feeling superior or less than others.

Healthy humility often comes with other beneficial associations like smoother adjustments to life’s transitions including set-backs, aging and dying. People high in appreciative humility have better physical and psychological well-being, self-compassion, stronger interpersonal relationships and are more giving.

Unhealthy, self-effacing humility is associated with self-loathing and low interpersonal skills. People with self-effacing humility may be prey for bullies.

Clearly, it’s healthy humility that would be a good thing for all of us to have.

How do we get more healthy humility?

Well, now, the best thing we can do is look for a rock star, humble role-model. Sound tough? It is, but I know one, Dr. Gene Sharratt.

Gene lives here in the Valley. He has at least 10 pages of degrees, professional awards, and professional publications.

For example, Gene has been recognized as Washingtonian of the Year. He’s won about every educational award you can think of. He was Executive Director of the Washington State Achievement Council. He’s climbed mountains around the world, jumped out of planes, and been a trainer for Disney.

He’s inspired and transformed many individuals, leaders, and groups.

I have personally been in three different large groups when the audience gave Gene a standing ovation after his presentation. You’d think Gene would be saying things like Mohammed Ali did, “It’s tough to be humble when you’re as great as I am.”

Instead Gene says things like this: “Never miss an opportunity to be good, kind, and gracious.”

Gene’s presentations are different, but they always have humor, insights, heart-warming stories, and often include a slide on humility — “If you’re too big for a small job, you’re too small for a big one,” it reads.

“Why do they always do that… stand up at the end?” I ask Gene. I think I have him cornered. How can one possibly talk humbly about receiving standing ovations?

“Oh, it’s because we’re all in the same boat navigating this thing called life together, June,” he says.

Gene abruptly stops there and reaches over for a little book from his library; it’s a child’s book — Stuart Little by E.B. White. He reads a lovely passage of dialogue between two travelers. Then he smiles and gives me the book to take home.

Later, when I check my email inbox, there is already a “note of appreciation” from Gene. How could HE be appreciating ME?

That’s how paragons of appreciative humility do things. They never miss an opportunity to be good, kind, and gracious.

They see themselves not as more than or less than anyone else, just fellow travelers navigating this thing we call life.

Steeped in genuine humility, Gene embodies the best of our humanity. That’s why I stand up and clap.

How might we all learn from Gene — practice healthy humility and move up to The Good Life together?

June Darling, Ph.D. can be contacted at drjunedarling1@gmail.com; website: www.summitgroupresources.com. Her bio and many of her books can be found at amazon.com/author/junedarling.

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