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10 Easy Ways to Be a Better Person
RJ Licata is a young professional who enjoys furthering his knowledge base as often as possible. Recently his interest in personal development, and reaching one’s … …
Sometimes we get caught up in the grind of living and overlook some of the basics regarding personal conduct. Certain behaviors or habits can go a long way in how we portray ourselves to others and have a direct effect on the quality of our lives and that of those around us. While we all know (or knew at one time) the difference between right and wrong, and manners and rudeness, I think now is as good a time as any to name off ten easy ways to be a better person.
Hopefully, this list will reiterate some of the simple things that we can do to make the world a more pleasant place. Sometimes we all can use a little reminder.
1. Say please and thank you.
Simple, yet so often overlooked. When you want something, you say please. When someone does something nice for you, you say thank you. These phrases should be programmed in your mind, as automatic response mechanisms; you should never have to think to say them.
Maybe because I always try to say please and thank you I am more sensitive to this than some, but whenever I come across a person who blatantly doesn’t, it’s extremely obvious to me. This may sound like a minor thing, but by letting people know you appreciate what they do for you, they are more likely to do it in the future. It’s humorous to think that someone who is so selfish that they fail to express gratitude would miss out on an opportunity to secure services for themselves down the road. But now that I bring it up, I bet you’ll notice this happening quite often.
2. Be courteous.
This can be applied in a number of different ways. Most generally it means to see things from another’s perspective and if there is something you can do to make their situation easier, then do it. Even if it requires you to go a little bit out of your way. Kind deeds done in the name of personal sacrifice have a tendency to repay themselves many times over. It may not happen right away, but there is something to be said for maintaining positive karma.
Try to keep aware of what’s going on around you, even when you are most preoccupied. No matter how busy you are, there is no excuse for not holding the door open for someone who has both hands full, or helping to pick up the stack of papers that was just dropped in front of you. You’re right, it isn’t your problem that they’re clumsy, but it is your opportunity to do something nice for someone else. And if you want to be considered a decent person, it’s an opportunity you shouldn’t pass up.
3. Follow the Golden Rule.
Most religions have some form of this phrase in their scripture. In case you’ve never heard of the Golden Rule before it goes something like this:
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
The exact wording varies depending on which religion you’re asking, but the concept is consistent. Treat others the way you would like to be treated. The beautiful part of the Golden Rule is how straight forward it is. Think about how great things would be if everyone followed it. There would be no crime, no war, and no murder. Now we can’t control the actions of everyone else, but we can control how we behave.
Unfortunately, in the cutthroat society that we live in, more and more people are having a difficult time following the Golden Rule. It is almost considered necessary to shortchange others to get the things you want, which is far from the truth. You’ll be much better off working together with others rather than knocking them down. I encourage you to resist the temptation to step on others so that you can inch yourself ahead.
4. Work with others.
Speaking of working with others, just the other day I was driving on the highway and noticed something very pleasing. There were quite a few cars on the road and I was coming up to a merging area where the road bends and intersects with another highway. It could have been either very dangerous or very time consuming to navigate through the cars. Instead, it seemed as though all 7-10 cars involved understood that the best way for them to make their way through the junction was to cooperate with the other drivers. People slowed or sped up, changed lanes or stayed put, all in an attempt to make things easier for the other cars on the road. What happened as a result was a very smooth merger with absolute minimal time wasted. Had a driver here or there possessed a “me-first” attitude he or she may have snuck in a car or two ahead, but ultimately it could have taken more time to do so. Because everyone was on the same page and worked together, the entire group benefited.
This example of cooperation and teamwork is applicable in all areas of life. It has been proven time and time again the the whole is most definitely greater than the sum of all its parts. Twenty people working together can achieve more than that of twenty individuals. However, all too often people assume that what’s immediately best for them is ultimately best for them. Unfortunately that isn’t always the case. Sometimes the best move is one step backward in order to take two steps forward. I urge you to obtain the help of others whenever possible and to offer yours as well. The potential of those who work in unison is limitless.
Never underestimate the power of a smile. The effect is two-fold. It tends to lift the spirits of both the smiler and the “smilee”. If you don’t believe me, try this experiment. For an entire day before you say a word to anyone, smile first. If you’re walking past them, smile wide and say hello. Notice their reaction. A great majority will smile back and those that don’t are either preoccupied or generally unfriendly. But that’s okay. Smile anyway. Those that aren’t preoccupied or unfriendly will feel uplifted, even if they don’t realize it. And when they smile back at you, you will also feel good. It’s difficult to measure the benefits of such actions, however, there are certainly positives that arise. One or more of a variety of things tend to happen. The person whom you smile at might:
Smile at the next person they see also, beginning a chain reaction (think Pay It Forward).
Be more internally motivated and inspired to go about their day. Shift from a depressed, angry, or hopeless mood to one of satisfaction, joy, and calm.
be more willing to help you with anything that you may need. There are dozens of other things that a smile can bring to someone’s day. And the best part about it? They don’t cost a thing. I’m not sure that it’s true but somewhere I read that it requires less facial muscles to smile than it does to frown. Whether it’s true or not, I choose to believe it. Because I like the thought of it. More effort is required to be rude to someone than to be polite. So laziness is not an excuse. Simply find something to be happy about and smile.
6. Say I’m Sorry.
This is one of the first lessons we learn in life, yet some of us quickly forget it as we get older. The principle is very simple. If you wrong someone, or if you make a mistake, or if you hurt another person (intentionally or unintentionally), apologize for it. Say you’re sorry and do your best to remedy the situation. Sometimes, even if you didn’t do anything wrong the right thing to do is to apologize. By accepting the responsibility you speed up the correction process. Now that we know who’s fault it is, we can move ahead with a plan to fix it. This takes some courage, especially if you’re apologizing for something you aren’t responsible for, but in the end, you’ll come out the better person.
I don’t know about you, but I am much quicker to forgive someone who has done me wrong if they show genuine sorrow or regret for what they’ve done. Not only that, but if they apologize and then attach an explanation I will most certainly hear them out. If they tried to defend themselves first, my anger and frustration would probably cloud up my thoughts and they would have a difficult time stating their case.
Ultimately, one fact prevails: it takes a brave and secure person to accept responsibility and express sorrow for their mistakes. But the truth is, the reward is far worth the risk. Those who apologize are respected and thought of as genuine, caring individuals, who despite their actions, do not always think only of themselves.
7. Be Honest.
Tell the truth, even when it isn’t in your best interest to do so. There is alot to be said for the person who can admit they’re wrong (see above) and come clean with their mistake. It should also be noted that telling a lie is a temporary fix it. The problem or issue is still there, under the blanket of the lie, and it will stay there until properly disposed of. Granted, it may stay there indefinitely, but it is never put to rest until it’s approached face to face. The more you avoid the truth, the longer it takes to get ahead.
Honesty is a reflection of one’s self-dignity or self-respect. Don’t risk either of those on a failure to be honest, especially at the expense of a lie regarding a trivial matter. Remember, most things that seem extremely important at the time aren’t nearly as big a deal a few weeks or months later. Value your reputation and protect it.
Although it is typically our first instinct to talk first, listening can actually be an advantage. Let’s say you’re negotiating on buying a new car. The most important thing the salesman will want to know is how much you’re planning to spend. Then it’s his job to find you a guy for slightly more than that. The more you talk the more likely he is to extract that information from you. And from there his training is specifically aimed at getting as much money from you as possible. However, if you’re able to turn the tables slightly and let him do most of the talking, you may be able to get a better idea of what they’ll be willing to let the car go for. Then you’ll be able to direct the sale more towards what you’re hoping to pay.
Another benefit of listening first is the amount that can be learned. If you spend most of the time talking then you won’t learn anything, because it’s assumed that you already know the things you’re talking about. But if you can position yourself in a situation where you’re able to listen to a knowledgeable person, the sky is the limit on what you can learn. The next time you find yourself in this position, take note of which situation offers you most. Sometimes having the self control to quiet down is your most advantageous move.
9. Be Complimentary.
Have you ever received an unexpected compliment that just brightens your day? It felt pretty good didn’t it? If you’re like most people you enjoy receiving compliments. Even the smallest most simple comments fill the recipient with joy. So knowing that, why would we ever be stingy with compliments? Pay them generously, but not so frequently that they lose their effect. People will enjoy your company because they know that you won’t miss an opportunity express your admiration.
There are really only two reasons why someone would refuse to compliment another. The first is lack of consideration. They simply don’t think to tell you they like what you’ve done. This is probably the most common reason, and this article will hopefully fix some of that. The second reason is less frequent, though most disturbing. Jealousy. People are hesitant to compliment others when they feel a sense of insecurity about themselves. They feel as though bringing another’s accomplishments to light will magnify their own failure to produce similar accomplishments. A sense of self-confidence and security in their own abilities will increase the likelihood that they will compliment others.
We develop an appreciation and for those who compliment us because they boost our confidence and make us feel good. And since there is no cost for compliments there is no excuse for not handing them out.
Make it a point to have a good laugh at least once a day, preferably in the morning. Laughing releases endorphins that make you feel good and relaxed. Creating this mood as early in your day as possible increases your mood and as a result your productivity. It’s very easy to do, yet the benefits are extraordinary. Let’s face it, laughing is fun. And I don’t know about you, but I can’t recall a time when I’ve laughed and gone into a bad mood immediately after. It’s therapeutic. And contagious. So while you’re finding ways to make yourself laugh, you could also be encouraging laughter from others.
It shouldn’t be very hard to find something to make you laugh, but if you’re having trouble, look up some jokes on the internet or put on your favorite funny movie. However you create the mood, don’t underestimate the value in laughter.
I hope that this list of ways to become a better person is of use to you. They are simple and even generic concepts and ideas, I know, but in my opinion that is what makes them easy to implement. And the sad truth is that many of them are forgotten or ignored by a majority of us. So although we all should be aware of the ideas on this list, putting them into practice is where we’re sometimes lacking. Reading this article is your first step towards implementing them.