You've heard it all your life: being humble, kind and calm is the "right thing to do". But if that isn't enough to convince you, consider this: humility, kindness and calmness can actually help you get ahead in life.
The Benefits of Being Humble
Confidence is key to getting ahead in life. It helps you do better at work, in relationships and in interviews. Overconfidence, however, can make you seem like a genuine jerk. We all know that one person that thinks they are the strongest, smartest and just all around best at everything. Truthfully, we all dislike that person to some degree.
So, while confidence is essential, it's important to stay humble as well (the two aren't as contradictory as you might think). Remember the tale of the Emperor's New Clothes: It's OK to be wrong about something and, more importantly, it's OK to admit that to others. This shows that you not only value your opinion and decisions, but that you also value the opinions and decisions of those around you.
People respond well to humility because it shows that you place yourself at the same level as them, and not above them. Plus, it has other benefits too. Psyblog has an eye-opening list of these benefits that can occur in your personal and professional life. Here are just a few:
- Soothe the Soul: Humble people are better able to cope with anxiety about their mortality. Instead of erecting self-defences against death, humble people tend to find it provides a useful perspective on life and how it should be lived. When it's not all about you, it makes death easier to contemplate.
- Higher Self-Control: Having high self-control is one key to a successful life. Oddly, perhaps, studies have found that an obsession with the self can paradoxically lead to lower self-control. The humble though, because they place less importance on the self, exhibit higher self-control in many situations. Perhaps this is partly due to the fact that humble people tend to know their limits.
- More Helpful: Humble people are, on average, more helpful than people who are conceited or egotistical. In a study by LaBouff et al (2011), participants who were more humble, were more likely to offer help, and offered more of their time, to those in need. Unsurprisingly, humble people have also been found to be more generous.
The full post lists even more benefits, and is worth a look.
That last one, "More Helpful", can be especially useful to you. To get where we want to go, we often need help — and what better way to get that help than from those we've helped already? In addition, studies show that being humble generally leads to better work performance. So even if you're a little overconfident on the inside, practicing humility can actually get you ahead.
Kill Them With Kindness
Everyone knows the Golden Rule, but not everyone takes it to heart. Kindness often gets overlooked as a sign of weakness, and to an extent, it can be — there is such a thing as being too nice. But a little kindness can still go a long way.
For starters, being kind is good for you. As in, it's actually healthy for you in the biological sense. A recent study found that there may be some connection with positive thoughts of kindness and social contact with the body's vagus nerve:
The vagus regulates how efficiently heart rate changes with breathing and, in general, the greater its tone, the higher the heart-rate variability and the lower the risk for cardiovascular disease and other major killers. It may also play a role in regulating glucose levels and immune responses (...) the vagus is intimately tied to how we connect with one another — it links directly to nerves that tune our ears to human speech, coordinate eye contact and regulate emotional expressions.
When a person performs an act of kindness the brain produces dopamine, associated with positive thinking. Secondly, the brain has its own natural versions of morphine and heroine: endogenous opioids, such as endorphins. It is believed that when a person does an act of kindness they feel good on a chemical level thanks to the production of these endogenous opioids.
Not only that, but others will like you more if you exhibit kindness (shocker!). According to Adam Grant, the youngest-tenured and highest-rated professor at Wharton, giving is the secret to getting ahead. Grant credits his success to being kind and helping others when they need it. So being nice doesn't just help others — it can help you too.
Please Remain Calm
Remaining calm in tough situations is a bigger challenge, but equally as important. Stress, deadlines and surprises can get to us mentally and emotionally. Even the strongest of people can succumb to the almighty power of unpredictability. Figuring out how to stay calm will make your life a lot more enjoyable.
Stress is a killer, we know this. It's been linked to heart problems, depression and even PTSD. So how do we manage it? Pick the Brain has some great tips that can make the toughest situations far more manageable. For example:
- Detach yourself: If you can physically move away from the situation or the place that will be the best, but you can also mentally detach yourself from what's going on.
- Reach out: No matter how much of a self-dependent person you are, at the end of the day you should always have a group of friends and family you can go back to with your problems. You will be surprised how therapeutic just talking it out feels.
- Cry if you want to: Irrespective of your sex, if you want to cry, just let it out. Crying helps to release that bottled-up feeling and clears the mind as well.
The full post has even more tips, and is worth a read.
Staying calm will make you more likeable and make others think that you are more in control than you actually are. You can't control everything that happens to you, but you can control how you handle situations in a way that will have people gravitate toward you.
It might seem obvious that humility, kindness and calmness are positive traits. But in case you ever needed more of a reason to exhibit these things, they don't just help others — they help you and make your life easier.
So extend your hand in kindness and offer help to those who need it. They just might extend their hand back to help you get where you want to go. Admit you're wrong when you are and find a way to believe that other people might be better than you at something. They just might offer you advice or teach you how to get better at a particular skill. And, no matter what happens, always try and remain calm and keep from going off the deep end. Everyone you've ever met is trying to do the exact same thing you are. Life is a lot easier when you accept that you aren't the only one living it.