The mere fact you chose to read this article means you’re thinking you could be a better person. And who couldn’t? It’s not whether we need to be better, but whether we choose to be better. Becoming a better person means changing habits, taking some risks and thinking differently in the future. What an exciting challenge. Will other people notice? Sure they will! Will you like yourself more? You definitely will! So, what are you waiting for?
Step 1 – Consider Your Impact on Others
Everything you say and do has some effect, positive or negative, on the people around you. Even total strangers are impacted when you snap at a sales clerk or lay on the horn because the guy in front of you stopped at green light. Just as you affect them, they impact others, and the snowball grows. It’s a pretty powerful tool if used wisely, and just one step toward being a better person.
Imagine a bank teller speaking sharply to you, but your response is to smile and be friendly. It’s not what you want to do, most likely, but your response does not allow her attitude to negatively affect you. Not only that, your smile could change her attitude in return. It’s really not that difficult, but it takes one extra moment to respond, rather than react. Try it for one day, and you’ll find yourself a much happier person by nightfall.
Step 2 – Think Before You Speak
The fastest way to prevent hurting other people is to think of the ramifications of your words. More people are beaten down by words than fists. Do you really need to say something hurtful? How would you feel if it were said to you or about you?
Are you using honesty as an excuse to say something hurtful? When you’re hurt, does it really help you to lash out with your own hurtful expressions? Many of the wisest and most considerate people in the world are thought to be that way because they don’t impulsively speak. They allow themselves time to think first.
Step 3 – Be a Humanitarian
Serving other people immediately improves who you are – not only in their eyes – but yours as well. The emotions that accompany helping others will help you grow in ways you can’t even imagine. Teenagers who struggle with self-esteem issues and identity problems grow in confidence when put in a position to serve other people.
Often we are taught to have a false sense of self-esteem related to our appearance, our education or our income. Contributing your time, energy and money to others in need will strengthen your heart and build self-esteem faster than a trip to Macy’s or a pay raise.
Step 4 – Use Your Strengths
I have a friend who plays the piano like a concert pianist, but he never shares this gift with others. It disappoints me so much when I think of the joy he could discover if he gave lessons to underprivileged children or played for a local nursing home. He doesn’t recognize his skill as a gift because it’s his gift. Other people don’t use their gifts because someone once told them that they weren’t gifted.
Make a list of what you do well and figure out how to use it in creative ways. Don’t neglect your natural abilities or talents because they belong to you.
Step 5 – Recognize Your Weaknesses
Addressing your weaknesses is a huge step toward becoming a better person, but remember, the goal isn’t to be perfect. It’s the striving to improve that makes us better people.
Without being overly self-critical, make a list of your weaknesses. Note ways to strengthen those weaknesses when you have time. Focus on one at a time and create specific strategies for improvement. For example, if you tend to overwork, set aside time to relax and play. This will improve your attitude and your health.
If you have difficulty recognizing weaknesses, ask a close friend or loved one to gently break a few of them to you. Personally, I can be overcritical in my tone. I have asked my loved ones to let me know when I slip, but they are kind enough to do it in a loving way before I hurt someone. As they point it out, I am less inclined to do it. If necessary, ask a friend or family member to help you be accountable. Make sure you let them know that you don’t want a master list of everything you’ve ever done wrong.
Change takes time and you should revel in small victories along the way. Alway remember that you are a work in progress.
Step 6 – Take Better Care of Yourself
Women have a serious tendency to neglect themselves at times. Whether it is stress induced, relationship issues or poor self-esteem, we let ourselves go. It can even happen when we’re comfortable in a relationship.
When you take care of yourself, you demonstrate respect for yourself. Women who are concerned about their health and appearance on a regular basis tend to do a better job of interacting and serving other people. Your family, your spouse and your friends will all appreciate it.
Step 7 – Show Your Appreciation
It’s easy to take other people for granted. Your spouse always picks up the kids from school and spends Saturdays beautifying your yard. Your best friend never forgets your birthday and will babysit at the last minute. Your parents did the best they could and love you despite your weaknesses. Your employees work hard for you every single day. The mailman, the garbage man and your nail technician all hold you together on a daily basis. There are so many people who make our lives comfortable and complete, some of whom we rarely even see. How could you thank them? All it takes is a nice note, a hug, a plate of cookies or even a gift.
My father was a mailman, and I was always amazed at the people who thanked him during the holidays. That made a huge impression on me as a child, so I find ways to show my appreciation for those people in my life who work for me and are easy to miss.
Step 8 – Explore Your Spirituality
Faith allows me to get through some pretty challenging days. It also encourages me to improve myself and strive to make a positive impact on those around me. If you don’t have a spiritual life, consider exploring that option. Prayer, meditation, removing your thoughts from yourself and loving your fellow man can greatly improve who you are.
Following any or all of the eight steps can help you make major changes. Just remember to take on a little at a time, and do small things well before leaping into big changes. As you create positive habits in your life, you will become a better person. Soon you won’t even realize you’re doing it. The exciting part is that other people will definitely notice!