Rule 5: Practice Humility

This is Rule 5 in the 5 Practices for Simple Living.

To practice humility, you need to set aside ego and vanity. I want to stop right here and address the irony of writing this on my own personal website, which has my name all over it. That alone doesn’t qualify as an act of vanity; it’s simply an identifier, allowing people to find me and connect with me by name. What this practice reminds me to do is not use this space to be self-aggrandizing. I cannot use this blog to be boastful or arrogant. My focus needs to be on sharing useful information, and building a relationship with my readers that is beneficial to them.

This practice is more challenging to me in a business capacity. I am an entrepreneur and small business owner. A lot of that job involves shameless self-promotion. This, again, is a matter of what I choose to focus on. My products should solve a problem for my customers. It’s not about me, it’s about them. While I need to earn a living, which requires me to make decisions that keep the business profitable, that’s not vanity or ego. That’s being responsible for the care of myself and my family.

Be Grateful, Honest, and Truthful

For me, this is a natural outgrowth of simplicity, slow living, and being present. It becomes easier to appreciate things when you’re taking time to notice them. You cultivate a connection that extends back to how food, tools, and people have come into your life, and the positive benefits of having them in your life.

Being honest and truthful comes from seeing reality as it is. This means letting go of attachments, recognizing your own biases, and applying critical thinking skills. Objective reality begins to have its own gravity, so you start to state things as they are. If you want to have positive relationships with people, you need a foundation of honesty. To be successful in life, you need to make decisions based on good information. In order to be helpful to others, you need to speak the truth.

Rely on Grace, not Strength

You can run this through the filter of your own belief system, but it comes down to this: figure out how to go with the flow. Don’t try to force things to happen the way that you want them to happen. Recognize the wonder, the beauty, and the opportunity of things unfolding in whatever way they happen to go. Stop holding onto a vision of yourself, your life, your goals that is so rigid that they can’t withstand change.

We can’t control the universe, but we can control our own behavior. This absolves us of having to worry about things that are outside of our control, or our sphere of influence. I always come back to the Taoist concept of being like water. It supports life, but it also has great destructive power. The greatest strength of water, however, is its ability to adapt to its surroundings and flow freely around obstacles.


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