Character Development

How can I Stop Being a Show Off?

Humility comes from truth. Just as falsehood brings on haughtiness, truth brings on humility. As the Ramban (Nachmanides) wrote in his famous letter advising on how to acquire humility that whenever you meet someone you should assume he has some desirable character trait that you don’t have. Are you whole and complete? Only the creator is whole and complete! So even if I have some attributes still the person I meet has other attributes that I don’t have and I should honor him for those attributes.

Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato writes that just as the ox can’t be haughty over the bird because of its great muscular build and the bird can’t show off to the ox about its wings because they’re G-d given traits. So too I May be the richest man in town but I have no reason to feel haughty because G-d gave me that gift of wealth it’s all from him! I thank G-d for giving me that wealth. The most handsome or beautiful person in the world was given those gifts by G-d and should thank G-d for them instead of getting haughty. Is it me? Did I make myself? G-d made me so how can I be haughty with the gifts he gave me?

When a person takes all the Gifts G-d gave him and he turns back to G-d and thanks him he becomes humble and when he becomes humble he succeeds in everything. He is more successful in business because he uses his judgment better. Haughty people are prone to make terrible decisions based on faulty logic related to haughtiness. Someone was hurt by a worker so he fired him. It doesn’t matter that the whole business depends on that person you just fired, he hurt your feelings that’s it! So your whole business goes down the drain just because you didn’t weigh your decision carefully and allowed haughtiness into your calculations!

A similar situation is when you have a customer with potential to spend a lot of money and you might make a great sale. But for some reason you hurt his feelings and he ran from the store; you lost him all because of haughtiness. How sorry King Ferdinand in Spain was after he expelled the Jews of Spain in the inquisition! Queen Isabella convinced her husband to expel the Jews on the recommendations of Torquemada the chief inquisitor of the church. The finance minister was Rabbi Don Isaac Abarbanel who was a gifted Torah Scholar and financier. The inquisition was decreed and the Spanish economy went down the drain. Why? Because of irrelevant considerations.

Someone humble has a straighter unencumbered way of thinking. He has more peace in his home. Even if he perceived his wife not respecting him as he believes he deserves, he controls himself and doesn’t lash out in kind. So she said something, so what! I’m far better off taking it quietly and later when I’m calm I can deal with it.

There is a principle that a person should look for the golden median in character traits not to go too far to any extreme. However in order to acquire humility you need to go the extreme staying far away from haughtiness. True humility is the middle!

In summary, a person who learns new things and acquires them with a new understanding properly defining things he didn’t properly understand beforehand and changes due to his newfound knowledge will eventually get onto the main path to success. But how do you start; by going to the opposite extreme. If it’s something easy to remedy, and all you need to do is get back to the middle, so go back to the middle and that is sufficient. But if it’s something that’s difficult something that until now you believed as good and you found out it isn’t, the way to repair that is by going to the other extreme. In this manner you’ll succeed in leading a healthy life on the middle path.


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