Two guys were sitting in a room, determined to become humble at all costs. They sat there for days and“I’m a nothing. A nobody. Simple and humble.” contemplated their lowliness, convincing themselves that they were total nobodies, and truly pious and humble. Suddenly, a third guy entered the room and started pacing, mumbling to himself, “I’m a nothing. A nobody. Simple and humble.”

The other two nudged each other and laughed. “This guy just showed up, and already he thinks he’s a nobody!”

Humility isn’t about thinking you are more humble than everyone else. But it is about being more humble than literally every other person on the planet, as our sages instruct: “Be lowly of spirit before every man.” How can you appreciate that others, even sinners, are greater than you? By being in awe of their struggles. And by asking yourself if you exert the same inner stamina as they do to combat your own challenges.

It’s a definite, and sometimes necessary, ego puncture. If you find yourself feeling too smug in your service of G‑d, you may just need to remind yourself that you’re not really that great after all.

Maybe your friend lives or works in a place that is full of temptation? Maybe his or her nature is more passionate than yours, making him or her more susceptible to sin? Do you know the extent of your friend’s private demons? Do you have any idea how much it takes to battle such strenuous inner turmoil?

When you think in those terms, you stop thinking you are holier than thou. You start questioning whether you investYou are no better than anyone else enough energy to stop yourself from repeating a juicy piece of gossip or whether you are scrupulously honest in money matters as you should be. You wonder if you make it regular practice to get out of your comfort zone enough to increase in Torah learning and prayer.

It occurs to you that if you’re lucky enough to be well-versed in Torah, then you should be living life on a higher plane; instead of pointing fingers at others, you should hold up a mirror to your own actions and check your own standards. And you realize that you are no better than anyone else, and if anything, may even be lacking in the effort department.

A humbling thought indeed.

Tanya Bit: Sometimes, in order to be truly spiritual, you need to feed your ego a slice of introspective humble pie.

(Inspired from Chapter 30 of Tanya)