In today’s society, the “norm” seems to be to strive for fame, success, recognition. In such circumstances being honorably humble is an extremely rare and respectable virtue to be having. It’s almost like being a unicorn.
Perfect examples of people who mastered this virtue are the Samurai. They lived in a different time, but there is a reason why they are still famous today. So many books and movies are inspired by their way of life and their wisdom is something we could still tap into on our path of bettering ourselves.
The word Samurai means “to serve others,” but more specifically, to serve something or someone higher than oneself. Part of their teaching was to practice awareness of their own boundaries and developing ways how to overcome them. They were able to focus on a bigger picture while doing specific activities and making decisions. Stability of mind, calmness, and humility were qualities that they’ve managed to keep in all the situations they’ve encountered.
Humble vs. Humiliated
The difference between these two traits is that in humility you choose that position of subservience, but in humiliation, you are pushed there by others.
The main benefit of being humble is the peaceful feeling of appreciation of your surrounding and the stability of mind. There is no drama, no anger. You don’t get offended by every little thing people say.
Research showed that being humble correlates with making better decisions, having better work performance, higher self-control, less prejudice and better leadership skills. (2)
To help you reach a profound state of humbleness, we present you the Bushido code of 7 virtues that Samurai lived by. We summarized them to essential points and applied to modern situations.
Practice Purity (Always Do the Right Thing)
Constantly striving to do the right thing, even when it is hard, even when it is going to hurt you in some way is a sign of showing respect for other people. Acknowledging that integrity and justice are more important than your own needs is what a true Samurai would do.
For example, if you make a mistake at work and another person gets the blame and punishment, come clean and admit your mistake. It is the right thing to do. Maybe you’ll temporarily get “in trouble”, but you’ll earn respect from your co-workers and, possibly, your boss. (1)
Samurai never chooses an easy path through life because they know this isn’t the correct strategy in the long term. To get to the things that matter, they know they need to work hard for them.
There are endless examples of how choosing actions by “easiest way out “ criteria is wrong for you. It’s easier to eat the whole cake when you sugar craving hit, but it’s better for your health to eat just one slice. It’s easier to watch a movie, but it’s better for you to exercise. It’s easier not to read a book, but it’s better for you if you do it.
To choose a path that is difficult takes a lot of will and courage. Realizing that you are going to go through a lot of pain and hard work but still be willing to face the challenges in a true manifestation of courage.
This doesn’t mean being fearless; it means going forward even though you are afraid.
Samurai were fierce fighters, for sure, but outside of the battlefield, they were really kind and hospitable people.
The key to being humble is in knowing where your “place” is, realizing that you are just as good as others. Not better, not worse, but the same (2). So, treat everyone with equal respect and amount of kindness, no matter who you think they are. Don't be disrespectful to strangers; you never know what their story is.
Keep in mind that ignoring people is considered to be rude therefore is a big obstacle to practicing humbleness. Do your best to acknowledge people’s presence, confirm that you are aware of them by greeting them politely. Answer their questions. Help them kindly if they ask, you don’t need
Be considerate of people you care about and from time to time offer them a kind compliment. Make it a humble one.
Even if someone annoys you or makes you angry, remain kind to them. Don’t let yourself react aggressively and rudely. If you lose your temper you become a looser altogether. Keep calm and stay politely kind.
If you have an unpleasant client that disrespects you, stay true to your own principles and remain behaving respectfully to them. This doesn’t mean you should be a victim of their vicious violence, it means that you calmly and assertively communicate your side of the story, feelings and intentions. If you manage to do this you will notice how their attitude will, likely, change. Treat people with respect no matter how they treat you.
Show that you can always stay grounded and be polite no matter how the person on the opposite side of the conversation acts.
We all tell white lies sometimes, but the Samurai were really sensitive about it. They never lied, no matter how difficult the truth was. It was important to show respect for the “higher forces” by staying humble in front of the only existing truth.
Being honest while being aware that lying can get whatever you want can be quite difficult (3). But, wouldn’t you treasure your achievement more if you gained it by being honest? Cheating and deceiving are easy ways to get things, and almost anyone could do it, so where is the value in that?
My best friend is just a naturally sincere person, and it is always refreshing to be around her.
She is direct, and I know that I can always ask her anything to get an honest opinion. So, when things are important, I immediately talk to her. Her honesty stopped me so many times from making a mistake or embarrassing myself. I really appreciate her for that.
Let’s all try to be that person for our loved ones.
Imagine a situation where a big opportunity you long waited for becomes a reality, but it comes with a certain price. You know that you will go against your values and principles by accepting it.
For example, you get a job with a big income, but the company’s values are questionable. They ask you to do things that are not morally acceptable to you. What would you do in that situation?
A Samurai would choose honor over anything. They were so extreme that they would give their lives for it. They committed ‘seppuku’ (ritual disembowelment) to preserve it.
Even though these acts were extreme, in modern society we should keep in mind that our actions are what builds up our reputation. So, if we want to be respected, we should choose our battles carefully.
Samurais were devoted to their superiors. They believed in them and followed them their whole lives. Respecting the authority was one of the main reasons why they were so humble.
How can you (and me) apply this to our life?
Stay loyal to our friends, family, partner. Treasure them. Having a committed relationship with someone, a romantic or not, is a tremendous value and nothing can replace it. So, nurture we need to it.
Other than that, we can stay committed to your lifestyle, our moral standards and goals in life. Keep being devoted to our beliefs and our constant desire for growth and learning.
Being loyal to something or someone makes us focused and modest. But, most importantly, it gives us a meaning, a purpose and a compass to navigate more easily through life.
Samurai Wisdom Summary
That's what it takes.
Try our 30 Days of Mindfulness course.
It will give you the tools you need to make practice something you do daily.
Being modest gives us the power of self-control and keeps us at our highest game.
Even though Samurai are long gone, their wisdom is something that is still preserved to this day. We should respect it and learn from it.
They had a set of rules they’ve faithfully followed. Keeping in mind that there are things bigger than oneself is what made them so humble. They nurtured Purity, Courage, Benevolence, Respect, Sincerity, Honesty, and Loyalty.
If you admire their ways, apply the seven rules they followed and become a modern Samurai.
This will make you uniquely humble, and maybe will inspire someone and become an example for them to look up to.
Before you know it you’ll be as humble as a Samurai.