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 that glow down on you.
It’s not only the easiest but the best dose of humble pie you can get.
The trick on how to humble yourself comes from your perspective
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 dominate all your competition standing 6’2″ tall.
You don’t even respect your opponents any longer.
But then you move to Los Angeles in the hopes of walking onto a college team. Here you’re not only another fish in the sea, but you don’t even get a second look.
Everyone stands above 6’6″ tall with insane athletic ability. 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.
I still recall how it was a clear night without a cloud in the sky. There was a light breeze too, that made you feel alive as it gently touched 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.
When I 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 that was several hundred million miles from Earth, and 318 times as massive as Earth.
From that point on, my curiosity over life stepped onto an entirely different level. Plus, I realized how small I was in the universe.
My point is, we all need this kick in the ass to get a reality check at some point in life. Especially these days, where our attention is pulled in so many different directions.
For this reason, I find 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 qualities. Qualities that never get old either.
And the darker the night, the more powerful these qualities become.
These qualities show you the following:
- The scope of the universe
- A lens into the past
- Life slowed down
- A lens into our creation
I’m going to dive into each one of these qualities to highlight their powers.
The scope of the universe
Every corner of the universe is a whole new world.
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. That’s roughly 93 million miles.
As you can see, 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 that orbits the Sun.
It’s like the asteroid belt without rocks, and much farther away. We believe the 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, it’ll come within 1.7 lightyears of a star named Ross 248.
Now, this next graphic shows the closest stars to the Sun.
For context, Voyager 2 travels about 3.26 light-years every 100,000 years. This NASA space probe isn’t a tortoise though. It travels 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.
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.
What’s more, the speed of light is 186,282 miles per second. This further shows the great vastness of the universe that we’re a very small part of.
The average human lifespan is in the low 70s. Yet, when we gaze into the night sky, we see light from thousands of years ago.
How cool and humbling is that?!
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, those 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:
- 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?
- 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 that we have yet to discover?
- How are we so insignificant, yet significant at the same time?
These are all thought-provoking questions that give you an unparalleled life perspective. They humble you, showing you how little we know.
Quickly, the stress from the parking ticket doesn’t seem so important anymore.
Made from stardust
We’re made from stars.
Yes, the glowing objects that 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.
Then some elements come together and form planets like Earth. Humans are then made from this matter. Thus, we are stardust.
In short, we’re made from a chain of chemical reactions that 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 is insane.
This makes you appreciate the preciousness of life. You can’t take anything for granted.
Even more, it shows our insignificance, but at the same time our great significance.
Every element had a role in creating the universe, stars, and us. Everything matters.
“We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” – Carl Sagan
The ancients appreciation of the night sky
Our ancestors gazed at the same night sky that 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 in the night sky.
Some ancients thought the Earth was at the center of the celestial sphere. The moon and Sun rotated around Earth.
While the stars were glowing specs stuck to the inside of this sphere. Then some 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, ancient Egyptians had a deep fascination 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 how much we’ve advanced science.
The existing mystery and scope of the universe will still humble you beyond measure.
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.
Thus, you no longer suffer. Rather, you find peace within yourself.
I find the feelings of jealousy and frustrations can be overcome through the night sky.
Because we’re all but a flashing bulb on Earth. A blink on the cosmic clock.
I find life races by faster and faster the older I get too. And if you’re not careful, you’ll miss this great night teacher above us.
I find it therapeutic to lose myself in the night sky. I quickly realize how life always goes on, no matter any problems I’m facing.
Time washes away everything. Especially given how short human life is.
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. And one-hundred years is nothing on the cosmic timescale.
From what we know today, the universe is 13,700,000,000 years old.
Thus, logically it doesn’t even make sense to become jealous. I’ve trained my mind to shut off this animal instinct through perspective.
But frustrations do pop up from time to time. But using the night sky as perspective, I can almost always erase my frustrations.
Now, I’ve had a love for space for as long as I can remember. For this reason, I always have a telescope sitting nearby.
Yes, I use it to gaze into the sky to feed my passion. But also, to soothe my mind.
So, I highly recommend you buy 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. I find it to be the best medicine.
The endless rush to do more and more
Yes, we all want to accomplish a lot. We want to sleep less, to have more time to check things off our to-do list.
But to what length are you willing to go?
We all view what so and so is doing on social media. So we don’t want to fall behind. We need to accomplish more and more.
Then many times, you chase things that don’t even spark any joy inside of you.
But again with perspective, you realize your place in the universe. More specifically, how little impact we humans have on anything in the grand scheme.
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. Who knows, we may even harness the energy of black hole jets one day.
But, that’ll 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.
What’s more, 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 even strips away any hidden arrogance that sometimes 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 has stripped a critical part of human life away.
Artificial city lights pollute the night sky. This blinds us from the perspective we all so need when so many of us are anguishing inside our own minds.
I always recommend people at least once experience looking into the sky in the pitch dark.
And if you ever get the chance, I highly recommend visiting Keck Observatory in Hawaii. It’s a life-altering experience.
All in all, the night sky rips you out of the context of reckless hedonistic pursuits.
Also, it can free you from the shackles of your limbic system, a part of your brain that controls emotions. The emotions that trap many of us in cages.
In the end, a look into the night sky with an open mind is the best gift you can give yourself.
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 2019 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.