Over the last few months I have been working to turn Tumblr User WhoreOfAbbadon’s “10 rules to be the Perfect Lady” (I would link to it, but she has since moved blogs and I cannot find the appropriate link on her new blog) into a personal challenge. When I first started working on it, the Challenge was supposed to be something on par with the Refine Challenge that I attempted to participate in earlier this year- and had an overall poor experience with… Since then, however, the whole thing has exploded into a complete Workbook that I intend on publishing.
One of the rules on that list, though, is “Be Thankful”. It’s a great piece of advice, but ultimately it threw me for a loop when I began researching it; during my initial research I noticed that a lot of people equate this with Gratitude-. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing since, indeed, Gratitude is listed as a synonym of Thankfulness and even appears in the definition. But researching Gratitude lead me to another assertion- one made by more than a few people. This was the assertion that “Gratitude cannot exist without Humility”.
Originally I recoiled at the idea and thought of a million ways that it wasn’t true; how could Humility possibly impact Thankfulness? It made no sense to me.
What sent me for an even bigger loop, though, was the definition of Humility itself… And it was at this point that I realized the problem I was encountering had nothing to do with the assertion being made… But the fact that my own personal ideology surrounding these terms appears to be very different than the actual meaning of them.
You see… Gratitude and Thankfulness, in essence, are the acts of showing relief and expressing appreciation for kindness shown to you by others. But I think that Gratitude and Thankfulness dig a lot deeper than that in many ways.
To me, it’s not just expressing appreciation for- and returning- the kindness that others have shown to you. I don’t feel that there has to be an action performed and returned- nor that it must be directed towards a person at all in many cases. Instead, in multiple ways I think that a more apt definition is actually to show or express appreciation in general; the expression of recognition, and the enjoyment of the good qualities in not only people, but also what you have and what is around you.
Currently, Humility is defined as “a modest or low view of one’s own importance; characterized as low self-focus”… And it is this definition that I take issue with; like with Thankfulness and Gratitude, I seem to have a differing opinion of Humility as well.
Everything about Humility’s definition and how is is talked about by others, to me, points to traits of low self esteem; having little focus on yourself and generally underestimating or downplaying your worth, importance, abilities, and so on… But these are not positive traits in my eyes. In fact, I think they’re terrible traits to possess; they are indicative of an overall low opinion of and confidence within one’s self- and this is something which I feel the definition of Humility actively encourages in a detrimental manner.
Instead, I feel more that Humility and Humbleness are about not overestimating yourself or having an overly inflated idea of your own self worth and importance… To take action to recognize how your own knowledge, skill, and talent legitimately compares to that of others; it is about accepting your place as simply “one of many” (instead of as the most important person in the room) and giving credit where credit is appropriately due- especially in regards to your own accomplishments or contributions.
And this is a drastically different concept than the one that actually defines Humility. But even within my own understanding of these things and what they encompass? I came to realize that if Gratitude and Thankfulness are about showing or expressing an appreciation for everything (and everyone) around you- and Humility is about not overestimating your self worth and importance… Then ultimately Gratitude and Thankfulness cannot, in fact, exist independently of Humility and Humbleness.
You do, in fact, have to recognize and acknowledge the impact, equal worth, and importance of others (both person and thing) in many ways in order to successfully express a full appreciation for their actions or existence.