Being a better person starts and ends with you.
Many people are far too quick to help others yet are blind to their own mistakes and flaws.
First, take the log out of your own eye; then you can see how to take the speck out of your friend’s eye.
As a start to a new year, with all your resolutions, intentions and plans, why not include something that is sure to bring more joy into your life and those around you?
Here are some ways you can do just that, beginning with yourself.
1. Watch your words
I do not mean what you say out loud to others, but rather, your internal dialogue: what you say to yourself.
If someone had to talk to you the way you spoke to yourself, what would you think of them?
Negative self-talk is a hard habit to break, so the best way to manage it is to catch yourself in the act. By pretending you are talking to someone else, you can hear how you really sound and how the words actually feel to you. Once you decide the words are not helpful or constructive, you can recalibrate your language.
Try this: if you find yourself going down the what-if road, “What if I fail?” “What if I am not good enough?” “What if they find out I don’t know what I’m doing?” and so on.
Choose at that moment to flip the question around.
- “What if I win?”
- “What if I succeed?”
- “What if this all works out well?”
Think of your mind like Google. Whatever question you ask, it will find the answer. So to get the best from your mind, ask the right questions in the right way. You will be amazed at what comes up when you shift your language to positivity.
2. Invest in your well-being
It is much harder to be a better person when you are in pain or suffering. So instead of ignoring whatever is physically or mentally ailing you, be brave enough to address it and get the help you need.
3. Do something new
When was the last time you did something for the first time?
Many people get too caught up in their attempts to become experts, the go-to-person, or the top dog, for many reasons – success, achievement, personal mastery. But the freedom and childlike enthusiasm that comes from doing something outside of your comfort zone are not only great for your soul; it opens your mind to new perspectives, which creates understanding, empathy and compassion, which makes you a better person.
For your friends and family
Now that you have considered yourself first, the next stage involves your inner circle.
4. Create healthy boundaries
Being a better person does not mean allowing people to walk over you, and creating boundaries is not about pushing people away or shutting them out.
Unlike walls that we put up to hide parts of ourselves, boundaries are there to protect you and allow you to grow and develop into a more conscious, integrated and happy person.
An excerpt from my blog titled what-are-healthy-boundaries. Click to read.
5. More quality time
10-minutes of your total presence is better than 2 hours of your time when you are distracted, frustrated and distant. Not only is it better for the other person, but also you, because it can help you better prioritise your time and allows you to give your attention and energy more efficiently.
Listening without giving advice or criticising is a sure way to create deeper, more authentic connections with others. Especially those closest to you. Like your children and partners, who you spend most of your time with and who often bear the brunt of bad days, ventings and tempers. Everyone feels more appreciated and understood when they feel heard. So by enhancing your listening skills, you are sure to be a better person.
For your community
Your circle of influence also extends into the community. To make a positive impact, consider these suggestions on how to be a better person to and for others.
7. Share positive reviews
There is nothing more uplifting and inspiring than coming across a message or post praising good customer service. It is easy to complain – I am not saying you shouldn’t. By all means, complain if the result will render a constructive solution. But most of the time, complaints are made in the moment and out of anger. To be a better person within your community, share honest, constructive and well-thought-out comments and reviews.
8. Support local
Aim to be more conscious about how you show support as a consumer. Instead of buying coffee from a major international franchise, consider supporting a local brand or a one-person enterprise. They will most likely offer you better service and give you a better experience because your business is valuable to them.
9. Pay it forward
A simple yet profound philosophy that has the power to change the world.
A simple act of kindness or a gesture of generosity can shape and change another’s life. If you have been fortunate enough to have had someone in your life give you an opportunity or believe in your abilities, you will know how incredible and almost undeserving it felt. If you have not yet experienced this, consider being the first and then have patience for the echo to return to you.
For the planet
It is our collective and individual responsibility … to preserve and tend to the world in which we all live.Dalai Lama
10. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
In whatever way you can, become conscious of your waste. This can and will have a profound impact on the overall health of our planet.
Many retailers have made good progress in reducing single-use plastics, but there is still a long way to go. Wherever possible, support brands and retailers that have made an effort in this regard.
One person’s trash is another’s treasure.
Another way to manage waste products is through recycling and donations. You would be amazed at the countless opportunities there are to recycle items you no longer need, from old clothes to electronics and furniture, books, cardboard boxes, egg cartons, bread clips, milk bottles and takeaway containers. Look out for charities that would love to have these items.
11. Give to your cause
Whatever your passion, the environment, animal shelters, the Church, old age homes, childcare centres, schools, human rights groups, sea rescues, medical research, blood donations or supporting up-and-coming artists, give what you can with what you have. Money is not the only form of value to these organisations. You can give your time, talents, connections or even a gesture written in your last will and testament to make a difference.
12. Get perspective
“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it.”Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 astronaut
The overview effect is a phrase coined by astronauts when they get their first glimpse of the earth from space, or more formally, a shift in consciousness that astronauts commonly experience upon seeing our floating blue planet from afar. What these fortunate few people commonly experienced was:
- a realisation that people are so small compared to the world and the vastness of space
- that no lines or boundaries are dividing the earth and its people.
The chances of going to space are slim. To share this wisdom with the world, several highly regarded organisations and institutions, like MIT, Harvard and NASA, are dedicated to studying this effect on enhancing humanity from a psychological, spiritual, economic and social perspective.
Realising you are part of a much larger story, many unimportant worries can fade away. Having a broader perspective on life can grant you the wisdom to make you a better person.