Happiness

Thoughts on Humility and Self-Confidence

I have been musing on the virtue of humility. I rarely hear about humility other than in a religious context, but it really can apply to any situation. If it is possible for values to be “out of fashion” I believe this one is. Confidence, self-acceptance, and self-care are very popular right now, and seem at odds with being humble. “Humbling yourself” sounds weak or powerless and right now it feels like everyone is talking about being bold, outspoken, and strong. But after thinking about this, I don’t think that confidence and humility are on opposite ends of the self-worth spectrum. I believe that humility actually goes hand in hand with self-worth and can give you even more freedom to feel confident and authentic.

This article, The Humility-Confidence SeeSaw: The Untold Secret of Great Leaders, looks at confidence and humility as opposites. It discusses how one must find balance; too much confidence leads to arrogance, too much humility leads to self-depreciation. This makes sense in practice, a big part of emotional intelligence is balancing these two concepts. But I don’t think that is all there is to humility.

I am not sure what kind of pictures to add for this post so I will post this one of me in good lighting!

I believe the power of humility lies in the concept of growth mindset. This is a concept in education/psychology where people can either have a fixed mindset, with beliefs such as “I am smart” or “I am bad at math” or a growth mindset such as “I am learning this and will get better with practice”. Growth mindset is powerful because it leads to embracing challenges, persisting, putting in effort, and taking feedback. It also opens up the world to you, you never know what things you might like or succeed at!

I struggle with having a fixed mindset because I care a lot about my identity. I identify with being a good student, learning things easily, and being able to succeed. I get frustrated when things don’t fit this identity. I never learned to ride a bike as a child because it didn’t come as easily as other things and I got too frustrated. In reality, I probably just needed more practice! Fixed mindsets are also based in fear. I can be overly sensitive to feedback because I look at things in such a black and white way. If good or bad are the only options, feedback always feels like criticism rather than an opportunity to make something better. The first step in having a growth mindset is having the humility to realize you are not good at everything and that there is room for improvement.

Another way humility has power is in social situations. Brene Brown writes and speaks about the power of vulnerability builds bridges between people, judgment shuts people out. Especially in today’s political climate, how refreshing is it for someone to say “I might not know everything, but this is what I think right now. Let me hear how you think about it.” Of course, sticking to one’s morals is important, and it is a hard balance to find, but it is so much easier to solve problems when there is less of a focus on who is right and who is wrong. Often, complex issues do not have a right or a wrong which is why they haven’t been solved yet.

Matt and I have taken up fishing as our quarantine hobby. We definitely need a growth mindset for that!

Humility also makes it okay to change your mind. Especially in this time of COVID-19, we have all had to change our mindsets as information evolves. Pretty much everyone in the U.S. heard about COVID-19 and assumed it would stay in China, perhaps wouldn’t spread very easily like past pandemics, or was just like the flu and could be prevented by hand-washing. We have all had to revise our mindsets as more information has come across. There has never been school and business closings at this level before, and rather than getting stuck in who was wrong, we all must adapt. A book I read a few years ago, Superforecasting: The Art and Power of Prediction by Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner, explains that people who are the most accurate at predicting the outcomes of events are people who consistently update their projections based on new information. They do not get caught up in resistance to being “wrong” they just continue to pivot what they think based on new findings.

I believe humility, vulnerability, and open-mindedness are key for having rich and varied friendships. I have learned there is not a “right” or “wrong” way to do life. We all simply take the options presented to us and choose which we think is best at the time. Things evolve and change and the only thing you can do is to continue to seek the best life for you. Knowing this allows me to make and stay friends with people who have different lives or different experiences than I do. To me this makes life fuller and brings love and connection to my life.

My favorite coworker.

This is a much more in-depth article about humility and its role in self-actualization. This article seems a bit out of my reach, right now anyway (see growth mindset!!). It seems unlikely I will completely stop caring about recognition or the opinions of others, but I do know that the freedom to be a beginner and seeing the gray between right and wrong make life much more enjoyable. I do not want to miss out on something because I am afraid to fail or miss out on a friendship because I am afraid of being wrong. I would rather be brave, show up knowing I will be okay, and see what life has in store for me.

Happiness

Why Write a Blog?

I have been considering starting a blog for a little while and have had so many reservations about it. One of them was that blogs are not new anymore. So many people have blogs and a lot of them have a much more interesting life than I do. Anything I say has probably already been said so what is the point? But I have realized this is a bad reason, or at least a type of reason I want to get away from. Not everything has to be “worth it” or “new”. This is something I struggle with; I want to be efficient and contribute things that are worthwhile and not already done. But in this situation, what if it didn’t matter how many people already do it or how “good” mine will be? What if it is just for fun, or just to bring a little more light and connection into the world?

I started listening to podcasts when I moved to Kansas City. I didn’t know anyone and spent most of the day in a small office alone. Listening to podcasts helped me get inspired to live the life I want to live, feel a sense of connection, and just get through tough days. I now listen to them on my long-ish commute or while doing chores. I unfollowed people I don’t really know on Instagram and started following my favorite podcasters, bloggers, and speakers. It has been life changing. My Instagram makes me feel uplifted and understood rather than jealous or depressed (Facebook is another story!).

I realized the state of connecting on the internet now is not just for “influencers” or wealthy people with wildly unique lifestyles. Most of the people I follow are just regular people; people trying to keep their homes organized, cook good meals, or live intentionally. I especially enjoy following people who radiate positive authenticity. They are honest and humble that their lives aren’t perfect, but often reframe things to see the good and share what is working for them with others. This is what I hope to do with this blog.

In addition to sharing information and connecting with others, blogging is serving as a creative outlet for me and a way to reflect on the big picture of my life. I have always loved writing but by high school believed that it was only for academic papers and classes. I want to find that 8-year-old girl in me that loved writing and creating, and this is one way to just do it. It also helps me take one step back and see the big picture of what I am working towards and how much I have to be grateful for in my life. This can be hard to see in the day to day normalcy or when I am unsure of what the future will bring.

I think I will create a separate post with all my favorite writers/speakers, but two that specifically talk about the benefits of blogging are Asha Dornfest and Kelsey Wharton. The links on their names go directly to their posts about blogging which confirmed for me that this is an opportunity to truly connect and share something beyond 140 characters or a carefully selected photograph. I finally decided on the 2020 word of “action”, so in the spirit of doing, here I am starting a blog.

Happiness

Welcome 2020!

New Year’s has always been my favorite holiday. I love sparkly things and introspection; it is truly the perfect holiday for me! I will say the past two years Matt and I have not made it to any event that requires sparkles but I still love reflecting and goal setting. I love getting excited about the future and thinking about the big picture of what I am working towards in all aspects of my life.

I have attached my favorite 50-question reflection and goal setting template. I have no idea where I originally found this but I filled it out in 2015 and recently found it on my computer. I loved seeing what was going on at that time and how much has changed! I love this questionnaire because it asks really unique questions such as:

  • “If someone wrote a book about your life in 2019, what kind of genre would it be? A comedy, love story, drama, film noir or something else?”
  • “What mental blocks did you overcome?”
  • “What was the best news you received this year?”
  • “What activities made you lose track of time?”

Another great source for reflection is The Girl Next Door Podcast’s yearly recap and subsequent goal setting episode. I love hearing real people’s struggles and successes plus their goals and “words” for the upcoming year. Hosts, Kelsey and Erica also record a message to their future selves and play it back at the end of each year!

For me, the main thing for this year was (of course) getting married!! Since our wedding was at the end of July, the first half of the year was really dedicated to wedding planning and making that a fun and creative time where I got to make memories with friends and family. I felt like this went pretty well, there were definitely some stressful times but I mostly had a great wedding planning experiences and loved the events leading up to it and the day of.

The second half of the year was focused on Matt and I building our life together: designing our budget, planning vacations, furnishing our home, and discussing career and lifestyle ideas. A lot of this we have started to put into action and I am excited to see it pay off in the upcoming year.

This was also our first full year in Virginia Beach at our current jobs. They are both pretty demanding jobs and with my 45-minute commute I definitely found it challenging to adjust to a life that felt like such a “grind”. I got some processes in place to help be more efficient such as hiring a house cleaner, ordering groceries online, setting up an auto-shipment from Chewy, and meal prepping (as well as freezer cooking).

We have been exploring the area and making some close friends that we are extremely grateful for! I also tried to take advantage of being a 4-hour drive from my parents and we have seen them almost every month since we moved here! I have also learned a lot about my health and have been working steadily on techniques to calm my stress response and hopefully decrease my chronic migraines. This has led to a lot of emotional work such as journaling about past and present feelings and challenging beliefs that lead to anxiety or self-doubt. Finally, I have realized how important it is to find joy in every day and part of this has been through reading, listening to podcasts, and following more speakers/authors/bloggers; the outcome of which has been starting this blog!

I am not sure if I have a word for 2020 yet, I need something that somehow sums up working steadfastly, then finally seeing the rewards. The last 3.5 years since graduating college have been a complicated mix of joy over my relationship with Matt but a lot of confusion in other areas of life. I feel like I can finally see what I have been working towards starting to pay off and some radical changes coming my way!

Comment or message me with your New Year’s reflections and intentions!