Can you believe it? We’ve made it! It’s time for the promised pie! Rejoice and fill yourself with the succulent humility pie that was foretold in Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3! Verily this is a day that will live on in the minds of the people forever!
How to Make Humility Pie
Cultivating humility is the same as cultivating any virtue or habit. It takes practice and a commitment to change. A word of caution though. If you think you can focus on being humble and then one day wake up and proclaim through your window to the still somnolent world, “Behold! I am humble!” you’re first of all going to end up with flaming squirrels launched through your window for waking people up and second you missed the point of working on being humble. Pass in your chips and step away from the table. Humility is not about reaching an endpoint. Like any other virtue, the goal is the practice itself, not a destination and if you think you’re humble, then you are not humble. Catch twenty-two all up in that. So how does one go about becoming and actively practicing being humble? Here are three ingredients you can start mixing in to your daily life right now to get this humble pie cooking and release me from having to continue to dredge this metaphor.
One Mote in the Cosmic Dust Bunny
Firstly, being humble should arise naturally from the understanding that you are not special, you are a speck of dust in the cosmic dust bunny and you can be swept, or vacuumed, away at any time. Humility depends in large part inacknowledging how small you are, how little you know about the Gordian Knot that is the reality we live in, and how insufficient your human mind is at deciphering all that is out there. This awareness, which can be disorienting at first, should impress upon you that you have no right to impose on others for your own gain nor a right to do harm to others. But, you may say, “If I’m so small and insignificant, then everyone else is small and insignificant too. They don’t matter so what’s the difference if I mess with a few of them?” There are several issues with that and I’m planning on going more deeply into the reasons why that is an absolutely terrible mentality in another post but for now I’ll stick with an explanation from the perspective of humility. If you get off on hurting others then that is just a way of boosting your ego and showing how much power you can wield over others. The point of humility is to accept that you’re no better or worse than others. You are a human like other humans. This transforms you into a member of a human community of equals and, as with any community, you don’t make people miserable unless you want to get your unpleasant ass kicked out into the cold. Got all that? Good. Let’s move this along.
Always Just Human
Accept your humanity. And what does accepting your humanity mean? It means realizing that you and every other human being is flawed, is limited, and will screw up despite their best efforts. Don’t mistake this as an invitation to wallow in your worst behaviors or to justify being a tool by saying, “Well, hey man, I’m just human. I’m just doing human things. Like being a tool,” then promptly doing several Jäger Bombs. No. Embracing your humanity is about recognizing your vulnerability, that even when you’re doing your best you may fail and it’s going to hurt, there will be consequences, and there’s not much you can do about it. This is just a condition of human life. We’re not all-powerful and we can’t control every variable to ensure things go according to our plans. How many times have you tried and failed to control your own mind and behaviors? You know what I’m talking about. You try not to be jealous of the next door neighbor’s new car yet you can’t help but hope that a truck carrying nails overturns and this shiny new machine has all four of its tires shredded. You don’t want to procrastinate anymore yet you just can’t seem to force yourself to not binge watch your favorite TV show online for nine and a half hours straight. These are flaws and negative emotions that many of us have (especially that TV or movie binging thing) and while it’s never advisable to just give in to them, they can serve as reminders of how imperfect and incomplete we are. Remembering that will keep things in perspective and remind us that no matter how good we might think we are, there is no escaping our flawed and imperfect nature. Which is fine. It’s what makes us human in the first place. Without flaws, there would be no Greek drama, no Shakespeare, no reality TV! And there can be no greater drama than the zero-sum game we wage against death which is where we shall end. Quite literally.
We Are All Heading to the Same Place
Whenever you start feeling too good, too invincible, just remember that you’re going to die and there’s nothing you can do about it. We think that what we do is so important, that we’re so important, but the unfortunate truth, the only real objective truth, is that we’re going to die. All the power, money, and adoration won’t save us from what is the inescapable conclusion of our existence. Yes it sucks, no it’s not easy to accept, but that’s the price we pay to exist. Regardless of our feelings about it, death’s inexorability and all consuming nature should provide the resounding smack upside the head that we need to see that everything we believe, everything we do, is essentially futile and will not save us. We are hallucinating meat bags and while that might sound dismissive and horrible it really shouldn’t be. It’s not like this changes anything. We’ve always been hallucinating meat bags that come with an expiration date. If anything, this should be liberating since now you can finally relax, enjoy life a little more, not worry so much about stupid crap like status, power, and always being right. Instead, this meaty message should make you understand that your time is very limited and not to waste it fretting over collecting excessive material wealth, living up to the expectations of others, or holding on to systems of thought that suck the vitality from your life, whether it be adherence to a religion that doesn’t work for you or self-hatred and fear. There’s no reason to think more or less of yourself. You just are. So just live your life before it’s over.
There you have it. No tricky steps. No endless whisking. Hopefully not too much stickiness. Just sweet humility. Sort of. Remember, this is a process. It’s always a process. Trying to not keep things in perspective, trying to accept our flaws and faults even when it hurts. It’s hard work. But it’s worth it because when you begin to see how small you are, you think less of yourself and more about everything else. There is a universe of incredible things out there, filled with phenomenon that will defy reason and fill you with self-annihilating awe. There is more of the universe than our self. It may be an odd thing to think about considering how we blow our egos up to gargantuan proportions and think that everything revolves around us and our wants. But, like many uncomfortable and difficult things, it also happens to be true. We are tiny and singular while the universe is vast and profuse. So cast aside certainty and self and open yourself up to the endless possibilities of this mad universe.
And remember to keep your fork. There’s always some pie.