Monday, January 17, 2011

Humility – An Essential Quality

I spent the last weekend with Lauren and Ryan and their families. Here are some words I shared with this wonderful couple:

I wanted to focus on one particular quality that I feel is one of the most important for a person to have, one that is in short supply, but which Lauren and Ryan have been blessed with – humility. The first thing that humility allows you and encourages you to do is to not take yourself too seriously. Not taking yourself too seriously is, well, a serious issue! Why? This is easiest to understand through the negative. Think about someone you know, and we all know this someone, who takes him or herself way too seriously. Now you understand why that is important. Humble people, like this couple, who can laugh and joke about themselves, are much more pleasant to be around.

Humility also means that it is much easier for you to be self reflective. Lauren and Ryan definitely have shown in their lives apart and together, that they are able to take stock of who they are and where they are in life. This is vital, since as they and many others have experienced in the last two or three years, life will come at you, and throw you some curveballs from time to time. If you are nimble in your ability to self reflect, you will be more adaptable to different and new situations. You will be able to take appropriate action, whereas the person who has difficulty with self reflection will still be frozen in the past.

The most important aspect of humility though, in my opinion, is a true sense of wonder. When you are humble, and don’t think more of yourself than you should, you are able to open your eyes, look around you, and discover a wonderful and fascinating world out there. You will by necessity live a life of adventure and discovery. (This is true, by the way, on a personal and national level.) Lauren and Ryan are very explicit about this aspect of their life. It is clear that they try to take in the world together, and live their lives in a way, that, I think, is the best way to live it. They live their lives with the clear recognition that life is a journey where one needs to concentrate not on the destination, but on the journey itself.

So, Lauren and Ryan, thank you. Thank you for reminding us just how special life can be, if we have the right outlook and perspective. Hold on to that. Now look into each other’s eyes. As the years go by, make sure you take a moment here and there to stop and look into each other’s eyes like you are now, and wherever you are, whatever is going on in your lives, remind yourselves, remind each other, to seize the day, and live your lives together to the fullest, like you are today.

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