Sunday, July 22, 2012

Humility is Humorous, pass it on...

This morning I was reading and stumbled upon a concept that fascinated me. The anonymous writer was talking about humility and humor in concordance with a spiritual tradition, and said that both words had the same root. My juices were flowing, just how can I connect the two words? I would write about it and during the process of writing I could stumble upon some useful nugget that would help me to grasp the difficult concept of humility, one with which I have always struggled. Just how does one become humble? It is a goal to strive for, it is one I would love to say I have accomplished, cross it off my bucket list (swim with dolphins, travel to Asia, run a triathlon, become humble, check.) So I started to do some research, and grabbed my trusty Oxford English Dictionary. I first looked up "humor" and was pulled back through the centuries to the fourteenth. "In ancient and mediæval physiology, one of the four chief fluids ( cardinal humours ) of the body (blood, phlegm, choler, and melancholy or black choler), by the relative proportions of which a person's physical and mental qualities and disposition were held to be determined." In Medieval times humor was any liquid or flowing substance. Our present day sense of humor derives from this concept that one's disposition had something to do with the fluid in one's body. Sounds delicious. I then looked up humble and humility. Different root, from the Latin humilitāt-em, versus the Latin ūmōr-em.

The OED defines humility as, "[t]he quality of being humble or having a lowly opinion of oneself; meekness, lowliness, humbleness: the opposite of pride or haughtiness." I am not sure whether I agree with the OED on this one. Having a lowly opinion of oneself does not sound like it would help me with life's difficulties. To be humble one does not have to lack any sort of self esteem. But can I laugh at myself when I make a mistake instead of wallowing in self condemnation, as if the veins of my body were pulsing with black sludge? Ok, that doesn't quite work, sounds melodramatic. I still like the Medieval concept though, what is inside me is projected out to the world. If I am negative, prideful, angry or just plain mean, somehow those around me will be hit with these energies. But if I can fill myself with Spirit, exude laughter and joy, I am sure it will make its way around. But for today I need to be humble enough to admit that I am still confused. Might as well enjoy it.


  1. It really is a divine practice to laugh at ourselves especially when we feel all haughty and self protective. I hope I get to do it more often.

  2. Beautiful post here! I'm a fellow spiritual writer and a big fan of chocolate. Can't deliver that, but after reading many of your posts, I've nominated you for the the Very Inspiring Blogger award. This award was also given to me, and I'm paying it forward. Please see it here and pass it along to any other spiritual bloggers out there if you desire to do so. No obligations! With love, Melody