“Make the most of yourself… for that is all there is of you.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
We’re all on a journey of self-growth, evolution, and change, and most of us are trying to make a conscious effort to be better human beings with every passing day. We have all made mistakes, learned lessons for good, and realized why we shouldn’t repeat those mistakes.
Being a better human being doesn’t necessarily mean improving a particular skill or doing a good deed for once – it is a more elaborate process of imbibing certain qualities in ourselves that would make us feel better from within. To put it briefly, we all want to be a better person tomorrow than we are today.
There have been many times that after conversing with certain people, I wished for certain qualities that they possessed. There’s the friend who never gets angry, no matter how adverse the situation may get – every time I see him, I wish I could be as calm as he is. There’s the 72-year-old man I met on a trek who I was in awe of – he walked more efficiently and energetically than people who were half his age. He made me realize that hardships are just a matter of the mind, and if we really dream of achieving something, we have to create our own path.
It is not possible to push aside all bad habits in one go, but it is never too late to start. Here are 17 little things that you can do to be a better person.
1. Let Go
“This is mine” – we are always scared of losing things and people and that makes us hold on too tightly. This is the time when you should learn to let go – realize the fact that nothing lasts forever. Believe in the moment and know that this is the best that is happening to you. Learn to let go of all the anger, pessimism, resentment, and bitterness – everything that evokes sadness and worry within you.
2. Stop Procrastinating
No one has seen the future, and no one knows what tomorrow might bring. Therefore, stop procrastinating and do what you want to do right now! You might be planning for some luxury trip that will happen in 7-8 months, but who knows how things will be then? If everything is fine today, pack your bags and leave. We often assume that the right time will come, but in reality, the right time never comes unless we make it.
3. Think Before You Act
Consider the consequences of every action that you take. It is a normal human tendency to plunge into something and then regret it if the results aren’t in your favor. Now it’s time to think before you act, because your actions showcase your personality. Every action has a ripple effect that can extend far beyond the immediate effects. For example, if you throw a plastic bag out your car window, not only will that cause damage to the environment but it’ll also teach your children to act in the same way.
4. Accept Your Faults
There are several times when we feel hesitant to accept our faults, even when we know that we are wrong. This is one of the worst habits and it needs to be changed. We learn from all our mistakes, and our worth never goes down if we are wrong. In fact, accepting your fault will raise you up in other people’s eyes, as they will know that you have the guts to admit your faults. Only those who can accept their faults can learn to rectify them effectively.
5. Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone
We all have our own comfort zones – like being around the people we love, doing the things we know we are good at, and going to the places that we’ve been before. But, have you ever thought how exciting life can be once you step out of that comfort bubble? Have you ever imagined going for a volunteer trip abroad with a group of people from all across the world and living with people who perhaps aren’t as fortunate as you are? I assure you that life will take a massive turn once you step out of your comfort zone, and you will be thrilled to never look back again.
6. Be Fearless
It is actually the fear of the unknown that stops us from doing things. Once you successfully overcome the fear, you shall be able to take up a lot more challenges in life, pushing your level of achievement higher. My mentor once told me: “People would keep sticking to the known monotonous path rather than taking the unknown adventurous path because there’s a fear of getting lost! But unless you take that unknown path, you never get to realize how beautiful life is behind that monotonous veil.”
I only understood how true those words were when I decided to quit my 10-to-7 job to pursue my dreams of solo traveling.
7. Be The Partner You Wish To Have
We usually have a checklist of qualities that we want in our partners, like honesty, dependability, understanding, love, compassion, etc. But we give less time to thinking whether we possess those particular qualities or not ourselves. Rather than looking for those qualities in someone else, you should try to make yourself better by imbibing those qualities. Once you know that you’ve become the partner you wish to have, you will eventually come across the right person for you.
8. Be More Empathetic and Compassionate
Most of the times we fail to understand other people’s problems and turn a blind eye to them. You should realize that unless and until you put yourself in that person’s shoes, you can never feel their problem.
Being an urbanite who has always been endowed with the necessities and occasional luxuries of life, I could never understand how difficult life can be for those living in the interior rural areas of a developing country like India. I only realized how grave the problems were when I joined a program to work in tribal schools in Rajasthan (India) and had a face-off with harsh reality. People don’t have bathrooms and other basic necessities that are required to have a healthy life. That’s when I learned that crying about not having the latest iPhone is totally not worthwhile when thousands of people out there can’t even have two square meals a day. Learn to be more empathetic and do whatever little you can for those who need your help. From my personal experience, I can tell you that you will grow many times as a human being once you help those who can’t help themselves.
9. Learn To Be More Forgiving
If someone accepts their fault, try to forgive them. You should know that even you have made mistakes before and you will make mistakes in future – how would you feel if someone else refused you forgiveness? By forgiving someone, not only do you improve your relationship with that person but you also create a space to heal the damage that was caused and let go of the grievances and judgments that had cluttered your mind.
10. Listen To Others
Everyone has the right to share their thoughts and opinions, and it is necessary for you to be a good listener. Being a good listener will nurture your emotional intelligence, help you to see the world through other people’s eyes, and develop the idea of how different people have different thoughts in varying circumstances. Just like you want your loved ones to listen to whatever you have to say, others have the same expectation from you. Give that space to people – listen to them calmly.
11. Practice Acts Of Kindness
Give without expecting something in return. Share, love, and smile. You never know, your act of kindness can influence those around you and make this world a better place to live. As they say, “Charity begins at home” – start by giving away old clothes and books that you no longer need or use. Take time out to visit an orphanage in your area and shower the little ones with the warmth they deserve. Feed those street dogs who’ve shivered all night in the cold. Keep a bowl of water on your window sill for the sparrows to drink. Start today and in a day or two, you’ll feel happier than you are now.
12. Appreciate Beauty
Everything is beautiful, and you should know how to appreciate beauty. The morning sun rays, the glittering dew drops, the aroma of the tea that your partner has made for you, the grin on the traffic officer’s face, the smile of the office guard – each of the things you come across every single day has something unique that you miss out on if you fail to take notice. Try not to miss those little things that make life beautiful – go slow and take a moment out of your busy schedule to appreciate them all. Be more creative in your own way so that you can bring even more beauty into this world, and share bits of joy every day.
13. Be Open To Change
Nothing is permanent, and everything will eventually change. If you cannot accept change, you will tend to make things difficult for yourself. Days will be taken over by the darkness of night, and the flow of good and bad will keep happening. Being open minded is one of the best qualities a human being can possess. Knowing that nothing is constant, you should learn to be open to change.
Meditation not only helps to rejuvenate your mind and body but also relaxes all your senses and makes you a calmer person. It gives you the ability to focus on your priorities and enhances your concentration. It will help you to get rid of your anger and anxiety. A peaceful mind is the storehouse of creative ideas. It might be difficult to hone your meditation skills in one go, but as you’ll slowly learn to gather all your thoughts and focus on your breathing, you will definitely feel lighter and happier.
15. Live More In The Real World Than The Virtual World
In this 21st Century, most of us spend more time with our phones, iPads, laptops, and computers than we do with our loved ones. Quit the habit of sticking to your gadgets and step out of the virtual world. Rather than messaging that friend you always promised to meet but never worked out the details, go and give her a hug. Keep your phone off while having dinner with your family. Go out for a cup of coffee with that colleague that you always interact with over email. Be in one place in the real world rather than being in 5 places in the virtual world! You’ll realize that life is more beautiful when you see a smile on someone’s face and not just the emoticon on the screen.
16. Express Gratitude
Wake up and express gratitude for being alive. Say “Thank You” to everyone who deserves it – to your family who has always taken care of you, your friends who shared your sorrows and joys, the driver who drops you off at work, the office boy who serves you tea, the sweeper who keeps society clean, and every other person whose work often goes unnoticed. Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a parcel and not sending it! Break the ice and show that you are grateful.
17. Compliment Yourself
No one can love you until and unless you love yourself. Believe that you are the purest soul on Earth and you are absolutely unique and beautiful. Look at yourself in the mirror and compliment yourself. Compliment yourself for the amazing food that you can cook, for the good work that you’ve done, for the nice letter you wrote, for the smiles you have spread, for the care that you’ve given, for the hardships you have battled, and for so much more. You deserve to be praised – and you should be the first one to applaud for yourself.
Every day brings a new opportunity to set aside the unwanted habits and start afresh. I’m sure you want to see yourself happy and you want others around you to be happy as well – so start with these little steps and see how it changes your life, bit by bit. Don’t aim to be someone else, rather try to be a better version of who you are.
To put it in Madonna’s words, “No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you’ve come from, you can always change and become a better version of yourself.”