It Is Humble to Be Well

Before coming to visit me in Munich, my sister asked whether I knew any places that serve Aperol spritz to-go. “That would be my dream,” she said. After picking myself back up from the floor and telling her that, surely, an Aperol to-go could be arranged, the incident reminded me of an Abraham Lincoln quote: “It is well to be humble.”

The opposite, however, is also true: It is humble to be well. A while ago, my girlfriend said, “I wish we had a robot that does our laundry for us.” “We do,” I said. “It’s called a laundry machine.” “Oh yeah! Right! That’s totally true!”

Imagining a tomorrow that is easier than today takes no effort, but the result is discontent. You have to wait for a future that’s not here yet. Ironically, the only way to truly alleviate our burdens in the moment is to remember how hard they were yesterday. You can focus on the fact that you still have to fold your own laundry, or you can be grateful that you don’t have to wash your clothes by hand. Choosing to be well — that today is good enough — is a form of humility.

Germany is home to over 25,000 castles. When you inevitably bump into one of them, it’s hard not to imagine how the people lived who built them. No running water. No heating. No electricity. And yet, they built these beautiful monuments most modern architects can only envy.

Sometimes, people suggest yesterday shouldn’t be our standard of comparison. “That’s not what is anymore, and if everyone thought that way, we’d never get anywhere.” But there is a difference between improving life and lamenting it. Better to know the giants on whose shoulders we stand than to feel entitled to a reality we had no hand in crafting.

It is well to be humble. It is humble to be well. Choose to be both, and you’ll enjoy a beautiful today while contributing to an even better tomorrow.