In a nation where chest-thumping and individual achievement are celebrated, it’s tough to be humble.
And yet, science says humility goes a long way in making you healthier and happier.
“Our research shows that people who are high in humility also tend have a positive sense of well-being,” says Steven Sandage, a licensed psychologist and the Albert and Jessie Danielsen professor of psychology of religion and theology at Boston University.
In honor of Be Humble Day – Feb. 22 – here are five ways humility improves your life.
1. Humble people are more helpful
Humble people are more likely to lend a helping hand to those in need, according to the 2012 findings of University of Maine psychology researcher Jordan LaBouff.
LaBouff found that humble students were more likely to give time and resources to help a fellow student in need. The students with humility were likely to help even when there was little social pressure to do so, he noted.
2. Humble people have better relationships
Humble people more attractive to potential partners, according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology.
In addition, a dose of humility might go a long way in keeping the flame of a romantic relationship burning. The study found that people who are humble are more forgiving of partners, and thus better equipped to repair fraying bonds of long-term unions.
Indeed, Sandage says his own research has found that humility leads to greater marital satisfaction.
3. Humble people show a greater capacity for emotional growth
Humility helps people remain teachable and open to life lessons, Sandage says.
“The Lakota said that humility is the virtue life will teach us if we don't learn it on our own,” he says.
Humble people are also more open to being vulnerable and receiving help when it’s needed, Sandage says.
4. Humble people excel at work
A little humility can help boost your performance on the job, according to 2011 findings out of Baylor University.
As part of the study, workers were asked to rate their own levels of humility and honest. Those who reported the highest levels of these traits also were deemed to be the best performers when supervisors were asked to rank employee performance.
Researchers found that a combination of humility and honestly has an even greater impact on job performance than other positive traits, such as "agreeableness" and "conscientiousness."
5. Humble people see beyond themselves and care more about others
Humble people are more willing to consider perspectives other than their own, Sandage says. They seek to understand diverse views on social and cultural issues.
“Humility can also protect us against the corrosive effects of narcissism, which tempts us to puff ourselves up,” Sandage says.
Ways to increase your humility
Some people are naturally humble, but the rest of us must work at it. Fortunately, Sandage says there are things you can do to increase your sense of humility.
For starters, ask friends and loved ones to share insights about your strengths, and areas where you need to grow. “Invite honest feedback from others,” Sandage says.
Another tip is to journal about things that are deeply important to you, but that stretch beyond your own self-interest.
Finally, Sandage encourages you to think about social status, and how it fits into your personal value system. Increase your sense of humility by focusing on “the ways in which people are valuable regardless of status,” he says.