Life is a journey of self-improvement. And though the word can mean different things to different people, when you boil it down, we are all trying to be better people. Or, at least, better versions of ourselves.
And that’s what life is about. Making changes to constantly improve ourselves. But sometimes that can be a difficult task. We make mistakes. We hurt the people we love. And most importantly, we harm ourselves with our own terrible decisions and attitude.
Maybe that is why you are here; maybe you would like to be a better person. And there is nothing to be ashamed of in that because it is a sentiment we all share. In fact, you making the active decision to try and change yourself for the better by clicking this article is already something worth commending.
You CAN be a better person. All it takes is conscious effort on your part. Here are some tips on how to start working towards being better than you are now:
1. Take care of yourself.
It seems like a no-brainer. But you’ll be surprised at how regularly people overlook their own well-being.
Maybe it’s for advancing a career. Or maybe it is for the sake of others. But we are often harming ourselves by getting caught up in vicious cycles of overwork, toxic habits, or much worse. We may fail to see the signs of our own downfall and refuse to listen to others or ourselves, even when we are drowning in stress and hurting really bad. And that can have dire consequences in the long term.
Learn to listen to your mind and body. Slow down if you’re on the verge of burning out. Taking care of your own health is the most important thing to do if you want to be a better person. Because you can only be your best when both your mind and body are in good health. Besides, there are very few things in this world that are worth jeopardizing your well-being for.
2. Learn to control your rage.
Anger can feel good. It can make you feel powerful and in-charge of the situation. When used constructively, it can even give us the courage to make things right (and even be heroic!) But if left unbridled, rage can be very destructive.
Unfortunately, most of us rarely use our anger productively.
This is mostly because anger is a very reactive emotion. It signals us that something is wrong and inspires us to take immediate action. But, on the other hand, it rarely explains the what, why, and hows behind our rage. And that is what makes losing our temper so terrible.
Always ask yourself what you are angry about. It is a difficult task to do, especially when we are bursting with all that energy rage brings about. But it is something we must all learn to do without fail. Because once we learn to identify the source of our rage, it becomes much easier to control our anger and use it properly.
Remember, anger is like fire. It is a good servant but a bad master. And once you understand that and rein your temper in, you will be a much better person for it.
3. Learn to forgive.
The act of forgiveness can be very difficult. Especially, because it is we who have been wronged and hurt by someone else. And that fact vindicates our outrage. But when we keep ourselves from forgiving, we end up harming ourselves in the long run.
You see, emotional wounds are much like physical wounds. If left unattended, they can fester and grow more infectious. They spread into other areas of our lives and slowly sour everything we once enjoyed. And this is particularly true if the one you can’t forgive is yourself.
By embracing forgiveness, you take your first step towards recovery. Because forgiveness is an act of healing.
Yes. It does not change what has already happened. But that doesn’t matter. By forgiving yourself or someone else, you are proving to yourself that you refuse to let the hurtful past control how you feel. You are showing the world, and more importantly yourself, that you are stronger than the things and people that have wronged you.
Because it takes a brave person to admit their mistakes and say they’re sorry. But it takes a truly noble heart to forgive those mistakes and look towards a new beginning.
4. Be open to ‘the New’.
The American writer H.P. Lovecraft once claimed that the strongest of all fears is the fear of the unknown. And he just might be correct.
The reason change can be so frightening is because it drags us out of our comfort zones and into a territory that is very unfamiliar to us. But that is not necessarily a bad thing.
Don’t shy away from change. Whether it is trying out a bolder style or traveling to another continent, you should at least be willing to try out new things – even if they scare you a bit. Because new experiences often lead to personal growth and help you become a worldly individual. As an added bonus, you might discover new things that you never knew you would enjoy and love. And that is always a positive.
5. Be Respectful.
Being respectful is very important if you want to be a better person.
It is always good to give people the benefit of doubt and treat them with civility and consideration. Because most often, that courtesy is something we would also like from others. So, even if their opinions and lifestyles differ from ours, there is no reason for us to not be polite.
When we are actively respectful and polite to others, people are more likely to respect us and our beliefs in return and be more open to co-operating with us. Because the thing about life is that we’ll always need other people for various reasons throughout our lives. That’s what being a part of society is all about. And nobody wants to help a person who is rude and antagonizes others.
You don’t have to be a doormat. Just be respectful in small ways. Greet people with a smile, take an interest in their lives but also give them enough space. And if you do have an argument, be civil and disagree based on facts rather than emotions. These little practices may not seem like much but they go a long way to helping you through life.
6. Don’t force your opinions on others.
There is a fine line between ‘educating others’ and ‘forcing your opinions on them’. The former is often appreciated by the wise, while the latter is universally reviled.
It’s easy to be the type of person who forces their opinion on others. Especially, when we believe we are right in our beliefs. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the right way to go about things.
When you force your opinions on others, you set yourself up as the antagonist. Even if you are correct, the one you are trying to correct will look at you as if you were the villain. Use reason instead. Try to see things from other people’s perspectives. And always approach any confrontation with grace. It’s okay if you cannot convince other people to see things the way you do. A healthy debate is never a bad thing.
And instead of being hung up on the other person being wrong, reflect on whether the other person’s beliefs are actually harmful. If they aren’t, then it’s probably in your best interest to just accept the other person for being different from you. After all, diversity is what makes life beautiful and worth celebrating.
7. Practice Compassion.
Life can be hard. For everybody. And that is why showing a little compassion to people goes a long way.
Often, we are under the illusion that being compassionate is a sign of weakness. But that is not true at all. We don’t need reasons to help others. The actions that stem from the thought ‘what’s in it for me?’ is what’s responsible for much of the suffering in the world today.
On the other hand, compassion is a cornerstone of humanity. It is love and empathy for all – it’s understanding that the person sitting next to us on a bus is no different than we are. Imagine if everyone were to have this kind of thoughts in their minds; if we were more willing to try and understand those different from us rather than fearing them. The world would be a much better place.
Being compassionate might be difficult at times. That is only natural since it is always much harder to make the right choices in life. But it is always wise to remember this one golden rule when you are trying to be more compassionate – and that rule is to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
8. Be honest.
Honesty is the best policy. And it’s so much more than just ‘not lying’.
When you choose to be honest, you invite positivity into your life. You are choosing to put yourself above immorality and establishing the foundations to a happy and free life. Because you no longer have anything to hide, which in turn means that you no longer have to suffer through toxic emotions like guilt. Other people will also begin trusting you and your judgement. And that feeling can be very empowering.
Being honest can be difficult. People sometimes don’t like hearing the truth, even when they need a reality check. But that doesn’t mean you should stop trying to be honest. Learn to accept the consequences of your words and your actions instead of compromising on the truth. People might not like you for your honesty but they will most certainly respect you for it.
9. Assert yourself.
Assertiveness is an excellent skill to have. Not only does it make you a better person, it also aids you in managing your interactions and relationships with the people around you.
By being more assertive, you manage to stand up for your own beliefs while also present them in a way that is both effective and respectful. This helps you earn other people’s respect as well as builds your own self-esteem. Aggression antagonizes others and passiveness makes us doormats. But being assertive gets our points across and promotes co-operation.
Not everyone is naturally assertive but that does not mean we cannot learn this skill. Practice is all it takes; and with enough trial and error, eventually you will find yourself creating win-win situations all around.
10. Reflect on yourself.
It is wise to always be aware of our actions and beliefs. Every action in life has consequences and action without introspection usually brings about the worst results.
Question everything – especially yourself and your beliefs. Only through healthy reflection can you come to an understanding of your own identity. Discover your strengths to know where you excel and recognize your weaknesses so you can improve them. Because to become better than you already are, you must first understand who you are and what makes you ‘you’.
SEE ALSO: 22 Best Quotes About Finding Happiness Within
Being better is not a goal. It is a process that we must continuously work on throughout our lives. Because there is always room for self-improvement.
And that is okay.
Because the goal is not to be the perfect person, after all. It is to keep ourselves moving everyday towards becoming a better version of ourselves.
As always, best of luck with your journey.
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