Photo Credit: Ben White,

Humility can open a door to the happiness inside you.

I thought of humility as a close relative to humiliation until three months ago. After brain surgery, I suddenly had a new relationship with my body and its abilities. My left leg and foot behaved as if it had divorced the rest of my body. My left arm and hand were estranged from the commands of my brain.

I expected to have to ask nurses and aides for help while I was in the hospital, but after I left the rehab facility for my home and began physical, occupational, and cognitive therapies, I expected to return soon to my previous state. That was when my perception of humility changed. I was pressed to see the iPEC levels of self-perception in a different light, too.

Who knew that it’d take two equally strong hands to open a bottle of water?

My sister and 91-year-old mother had come almost 1,300 miles to visit and make sure I really was improving. I’d step-plopped my walker from my wheelchair to the counter where my sister handed me a bottle of water before she began walking toward the door.

I twisted the cap and nothing happened. The cap didn’t separate from the bottle! I twisted again and nothing happened. I had seconds to decide if I’d remain thirsty, hobble to the sink and figure out how to lean against the counter, stretch to reach a cup (glasses are fragile), to then fill it with water and drink it at the sink because I’d already tried unsuccessfully to hold an open container of liquid and “walk” with a walker–or ask for help.

Humility’s just an acknowledgment of your relationship with your world.

Quickly, I decided I didn’t want to be a thirsty victim and there was no person to have a conflict with, so I eliminated levels one and two immediately. Keeping the waters smooth or serving others would still leave me thirsty or leave water on the floor around the sink.

I decided to reconcile with my current situation and ask for help. It occurred to me that humility’s just asking for what you need at the moment without the interference of ego. My sister happily returned and beamed as she opened my bottle of water. She acted as if I’d given her a small gift.

My humility allowed her to show her love for me in a way that I could feel.

I felt relaxed and relieved as I began to consciously allow myself to practice humility. At Costco, as my aide parked the car, I shopped while riding the motorized cart. The refrigerator section doors were too difficult to open while also picking up food. When I tried it, I couldn’t grasp the food well enough to carry it from the shelf to the basket on the cart.

Foolishly, I tried holding onto the cart’s steering bars and standing on my wobbly legs, then decided that it was too dangerous and pure ego. I tried humility and watched people smile radiantly as they picked up cartons of milk, packages of two dozen eggs, reached for butter and re-stacked my basket until it got full. I had more happy eye contact than I’d ever had while shopping at a big box store!

Humility offers a different way to be happy!

A few nights later, after three hours of exhausting therapy, I hoisted my torso and the strong leg onto my bed. I was determined to use what I’d learned and get the weaker sister leg onto the bed. Afterward, I was too tired to undress or take off the shoes, braces and knee-high socks. I was too tired to think about it.  I lied there fully clothed with my shoes on my bed.

Then, my very senior mother came in and offered to take off my shoes and braces. Humility was a way to save myself and give my mother a way to show her love for me.  As she peeled off my rather tight knee-high socks, she massaged my legs and my feet. She helped me struggle out of my clothes. We slept in the same bed and shared memories of my childhood and hers.

I never want to let go of this precious humility. It’s the antidote for ego.

Photo Credit: Ben White,