My yoga teacher Nancy offered a profound thought the other day, which originated with Ben Mandrell, pastor at Storyline Fellowship.
“The depth of your humility is equal to the height of your joy.”
Why do I find this simple phrase so meaningful? I’ve been pondering that for days.
The Value of Humility
The word “humility” is derived from humus, or earth. It means “on the ground.” I my own words, that means grounded in What Is, and able to assess What Is by having the ability to see your life as not only the subject of it, but also somewhat objectively.
In other words, in each person’s life story, we are the star, the main character, but in other people’s story we are merely part of an ensemble cast around the star. A grounded person can hold both viewpoints much of the time.
Humility is knowing, therefore, that you aren’t the be-all and end-all of the show. It requires, as we say in yoga, roots to rise.
Just as a skyscraper can soar above ground only thanks to its undergirding below ground, so can humans experience joy only to the degree they are humble.
Shallow Humility = Shallow Joy
So if you need humility to experience joy, as this quote indicates, does this mean that narcissists don’t get many moments of joy?
I mean true joy. Not the kind that comes from getting what you want, especially at someone else’s expense, or having money or power over others to acquire things or experiences, but the joy that comes from a deep sense of self-worth, of deep awareness of connection with others, of groundedness and centeredness that can’t be shaken from you, for it comes from within.
I kinda think so. And if I’m right, this is the tragedy of being a narcissist. Even if consequences never come from the outside, they are inescapable from the inside: the missing ability to experience joy.
I know there are several regular readers who grew up with a narcissist in the house. Some may be saying, “no way does a narcissist deserve any of my pity.”
I would not argue with you. I get that I am coming at this from a place of privilege. I did not have a narcissist in my family or origin nor have I in any later family configurations.
But I’ll say this. I bet my dog experiences more unbridled joy during an hour-long walk than an narcissist experiences in a year, a decade, half a lifetime. Sniffing away, Dexter giddily scans the ground (humus) with his nose, his way of connecting with fellow canines. The sheer joy of a walk radiates through his whole body and out his tail.
I suspect that narcissists, unable to enjoy even simple pleasures due to an inability to be grounded and to connect with others, are in a terrible prison of their own making.
And that, I believe, is a reason to feel sorry for narcissists.
Can you point to very many joyful narcissists?
So who’s with me. Who wants to become the greatest at being humble? Won’t it be joyous to brag about? Hehe.
Lori Holden, mom of a teen son and a teen daughter, blogs from Denver. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life.