There’s one sure way I’ve found on how to humble yourself. It’s what the ancients did for thousands of years to soothe their minds.
Simply look up into the night sky. Embrace the endless pinpricks of light, which glow down on you. It’s not only the easiest but the best dose of humble pie you can get.
Perspective is the trick on how to humble yourself
Your perspective on life will paint how you view yourself. You may think you’re the best basketball player in a town of 15,000. Nothing phases you, as you effortlessly dominate your competition standing 6’2″ tall.
But then, you move to Los Angeles in the hopes of walking onto a college team. Now, you’re not only another fish in the sea, but you don’t even get a second look. Everyone is above 6’6″ tall and has insane athletic abilities. Instantly, your perspective over reality shoots you down to earth.
Perspective rewires your mind and changes your entire thought process.
My first time looking through a telescope
I vividly remember the first time I saw Jupiter through a telescope in the fifth grade. My dad set up this big wooden telescope in our backyard. While it was a crystal clear night without a cloud in the sky. There was a light breeze too, which made you feel alive as it brushed your face.
The great thing was, we didn’t live in a big city. So there was very little artificial light polluting the night sky.
I recall when I first looked through the telescope lens, I couldn’t believe my eyes. In a patch of blackness, a small colorful circle floated stranded in space. It looked exactly like the posters I had nailed on my bedroom wall.
Right then and there I had to rewire my mind, as what I saw didn’t look real. It blew my mind how I was actually staring at Jupiter. A planet, which was several hundred million miles from Earth, and 318 times as massive.
Instantly, my curiosity over life stepped onto an entirely new level. I realized how utterly small I was in the universe.
My point is, we all need this kick in the ass at some point in life, to get a reality check. For this reason, I believe looking into the night sky to be a one-way ticket on how to humble yourself.
The night sky has the power to instantly humble you
I find the night sky has many powerful ageless qualities. And the darker the night, the more powerful these following qualities become:
- The scope of the universe
- A lens into the past
- Life slowed down
- A lens into our creation
We’ll dive into each one of these qualities, to highlight their powers.
The scope of the universe
Not just Earth, but our solar system is but a speck in our Milky Way galaxy. To illustrate, let’s look at the travels of NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft.
NASA launched Voyager 2 on August 20, 1977. The below artistical graphic shows Voyager 2’s distance traveled as of December 2018. On the x-axis, the units are in Astronomical Units (AU). 1 AU is the distance from the Sun to Earth, roughly 93 million miles.
The inside of the Oort Cloud is 1,000 AU from the Sun. The outside is 100,000 AU!
Important Note: the Oort Cloud is a mix of ice and debris, which orbits the Sun. It’s like the asteroid belt without rocks, and much farther away. Scientists believe the material source is from the formation of the solar system.
Today, Voyager 2 is about 119 AU from the Sun. For added perspective, it’ll take 300 years for Voyager 2 to reach the inner Oort Cloud. And about 30,000 years to exit the Oort Cloud.
Then in about 40,000 years, the Voyager 2 will come within 1.7 lightyears of a star named Ross 248. The next graphic below shows the closest stars to the Sun.
For context, Voyager 2 travels about 3.26 light-years every 100,000 years. This translates to a blistering 35,000 miles-per-hour.
To blow your mind, even more, our Milky Way galaxy is 100,000 light-years across. For Voyager 2 to travel across our galaxy, it’d take about 1,700,000,000 years.
Then throw in the fact there may be up to 2 trillion galaxies we know of in the observable universe. So, the number of total stars is unimaginable. While our Milky Way galaxy alone has a couple of billion stars.
I can go on and on. The point is, the universe is mind-boggling huge and the Earth is less than a spec.
A lens into the past
Looking at stars is a window into the past. If a star is 100 light-years away, it means the star emitted the light 100 years ago.
Now, imagine an alien civilization 65 million light-years away. If they spied on us with a super-powerful telescope, they’d see dinosaurs roaming the Earth. As dinosaurs lived 65 million years ago.
Then throw in how the average human lifespan is in the low 70s. Yet, when we gaze into the night sky, we see light from millions of years ago. How cool and humbling…
Even more, the speed of light is 186,282 miles per second. This further shows the great vastness of the universe!
Slowing down life
Every day is a race. Our lives are constant checklists of endless things to do with no end in sight. But the glowing bulbs in the sky seem frozen in time floating above us. I find this to be very comforting.
No matter how hard we race in our lives, the glowing bulbs will still stare down at us the same. This makes you switch your thoughts from meaningless subjects to deep insightful topics. Some questions you may ask yourself include the following:
- What is the future of humans?
- Will we ever escape our blue rock?
- How can we travel deep into outer space?
- What other intelligent life is out there, pondering the meaning of life?
- Where did the universe originate from?
- Are we really just a spec in the fabric of space-time?
- Does Earth not have a roof protecting us?
- What will be our fate as galaxies drift far apart, and all energy is lost in the vacuum of space?
- What else is out there, which we have yet to discover?
- How are we so insignificant, yet significant at the same time?
These are all thought-provoking questions, which give you an unparalleled life perspective. They humble you, while showing you how little we know.
Quickly, the stress from the morning parking ticket, doesn’t seem so important anymore…
Made from stardust
We’re made from stars. Yes, the glowing objects, which float in the night sky, made us.
Important Note: the death of stars produces heavy elements. Then when the stars go through such phases as a supernova, these elements fire out into deep space. While some elements come together and form planets like Earth, and spawn humans.
In short, we’re made from a chain of chemical reactions, which over billions of years led to who we are today. It’s fascinating, yet humbling. The statistical chance of humans evolving to who we are today from stardust seems insane.
This makes you appreciate the preciousness of life, and not take anything for granted. Even more, it shows our insignificance, but at the same time our significance. Every element had a role in creating the universe, stars, and us. Carl Sagan said it best,
“We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.”
The ancients appreciation of the night sky
Our ancestors gazed at the same night sky we see, when we look up. The same wonderment I have when I look up, I know hundreds of millions of others had too centuries ago. In a way, it’s ancient wisdom perfectly written into the night sky.
Some ancients thought the Earth was at the center of the celestial sphere. The moon and Sun rotated around Earth, and the stars were glowing specs, stuck to the inside of this sphere. While others believed on the other side of this sphere, was where gods live. The divine light is what was breaking through the specs, stars, in the sphere.
Even more fascinating, is the ancient Egyptian’s obsession with stars. They aligned all their pyramids and temples to the north. They believed their pharaohs became stars in the northern sky after death.
What’s more, they positioned their 3 largest Giza pyramids with Orion’s Belt. They did this with great mathematical precision.
Clearly, the night sky entrances all generations of humans. We’re no exceptions, despite our scientific advancements. The existing mystery and scope of the universe, will always stand to humble humans.
When and how to humble yourself
We’re all humans with emotions. Unless you reach the state of nirvana, you’ll need to humble yourself from time to time.
Important Note: nirvana is reaching a certain state of enlightenment. This happens when you don’t have any special desires. You no longer suffer, rather, you find peace within yourself.
You can look into the night sky, to quell such feelings as jealousy and anger. You’re able to realize how life always goes on, no matter any problems you’re facing.
You just need to be careful, you don’t miss the great teacher above you. Especially since the older you get, the faster life seems to race by.
Perspective with negative human emotions
In a blink of an eye, everything you’ve ever been jealous of will be long gone in one-hundred years. While one hundred years is nothing on the cosmic timescale.
From what we know today, the universe is 13,700,000,000 years old. So logically, it doesn’t make sense to become jealous. I’ve trained my mind to shut off this animal instinct through perspective.
Anger does show it’s ugly face from time to time though. But by using the night sky as perspective, I can almost always shut off any percolating anger.
Given my lifelong love for space, I always have a telescope sitting nearby. I use it to gaze into the sky to feed my passion, but also, to soothe my mind.
So, I highly recommend buying a telescope. Or at the very least, if you ever feel any negative emotions taking over you, go somewhere quiet. Somewhere with very little artificial light. Then gaze into the night sky with the endless dots twinkling around you. It’s the best medicine.
The endless rush to do more and more
We all want to accomplish more and more, fueled by comparing ourselves to others. So we sleep less, to have more time to check things off our to-do list. But to what length are you willing to go?…
If you pause, you’ll realize you’re chasing things, which don’t even spark any joy inside of you. With the night sky perspective though, you’ll know your place in the universe. More specifically, how little impact we humans have on anything in the grand scheme.
Heck, even if you do something Earth-shattering, like actually shattering Earth, it still wouldn’t matter. So being a trillionaire, or a top A-list movie star doesn’t really matter. You’re not changing the course of Earth.
Now yes, over many generations, we may impact beyond what’s on Earth. We may even harness the energy of black hole jets one day. But, this would happen one way or another given the momentum of human advancements today. Of course, assuming we don’t self-destruct or get hit by a large asteroid.
My point is, do what fills you with joy. Don’t torture yourself for validation doing things you despise. Because trying to leave behind a legacy is smoke and mirrors.
Focused reflection on your thoughts will humble you
The night sky perspective gives you the ability to circle back to what truly sparks joy inside of you. This perspective shows you how special life is.
Because if you’re not careful, you’ll live out your life to someone else’s beat. And in the end, all beats disappear into the night sky. So, why not dance to your own beat, when that’s all that matters?…
Again, my therapy is the night sky. Noting else!
The night sky comforts me when nothing is going my way. Plus, it strips away any hidden arrogance, which sometimes naturally builds up in my mind. In fact, it returns me to a time when life was much more simple. When I would get lost in my own curiosities for hours on end as a child.
“How to humble yourself?” wrap up
I feel the rise of new-age cities, have stripped a critical part of human life away. Their artificial lights pollute the night sky, blinding us from the perspectives we yearn. Especially, with so many people anguishing inside of their own minds.
I always recommend people to at least once experience looking into the pitch dark sky. And if you ever have the chance, visit Keck Observatory in Hawaii. It’s a life-altering experience, and the best gift you can give yourself.
All in all, the night sky rips you out of the context of reckless hedonistic pursuits. It can also free you from the shackles of your limbic system, the part of your brain, which controls emotions. The same emotions, which trap many of us in mental cages.
What’s your favorite way on how to humble yourself? Do you find gazing into the night sky to be impactful?
Featured Image Photo Credit: Greg Rakozy (image cropped)
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Koosha started Engineer Calcs in 2020 to help people better understand the engineering and construction industry, and to discuss various science and engineering-related topics to make people think. He has been working in the engineering and tech industry in California for over 15 years now and is a licensed professional electrical engineer, and also has various entrepreneurial pursuits.
Koosha has an extensive background in the design and specification of electrical systems with areas of expertise including power generation, transmission, distribution, instrumentation and controls, and water distribution and pumping as well as alternative energy (wind, solar, geothermal, and storage).
Koosha is most interested in engineering innovations, the cosmos, our history and future, sports, and fitness.