Beyond Worry? On Learning Humility from the Lilies and the Birds
In this chapter, I argue that part of the answer to the problem of worry is to be found in a certain view of humility: one that can be teased out from several Kierkegaardian discourses, and which has recently been gaining increasing support—from both philosophers and psychologists—against competing views of humility. Humility is understood not in terms of self-abasement, underestimating oneself, or being ignorant of one’s good qualities, but rather in terms of being focused on others and sources of value besides oneself: thinking not less of oneself, but thinking less about oneself. Exploring the centrality of future-oriented worries to Kierkegaard’s lily and bird discourses in particular, I argue that such worries often stem from excessive, debilitating self-absorption, which the variety of humility sketched here enables us to avoid. I aim to show how this conception of humility addresses questions such as how those of impressive achievements may nevertheless remain humble, and why its relative lack of self-focus does not rule out the possibility of self-improvement.