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10 Unexpected Things That Make You A Better Person

10 Unexpected Things That Make You A Better Person

There is little incentive to develop yourself when life is nothing but puppy dogs, rainbows, and gum drops. It is the hard times (not the good ones) that show us what we’re really made of. Here is a small sample of unexpected things that make you a better person.

1. You are a member of the broken-hearts club.

Just because one relationship ended doesn’t mean you are doomed to be lonely forever. It is never wise to place the full weight of our happiness and well-being on the shoulders of another person. You might feel incapable of loving another person right now, but the feeling will pass. Being single will teach you to be more self-reliant and independent. Enjoy the alone time and get your inner-house in order before you invite anyone else to it.

2. You seriously dropped the ball in your relationship.

May I confess something kind of personal? A few years ago, when I was a young and stupid college kid, I cheated on a past partner. I can remember precisely what it sounded like when she cried. I felt so bad about this that I ended up sending her apology letters every now and then for YEARS after the fact. My failure taught me a hard lesson in how selfish actions can hurt other people. Am I happy it happened? Hell, no. But I know it won’t be a repeated mistake, because I never want to make a person feel that way ever again. If you screwed up in some way:

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1) Admit it.
2) Apologize.
3) Explain yourself.
4) Ask for forgiveness.
5) Move on.

Will the other person forgive you? It’s hard to say. But if you perform the above steps, there is little more you can do. Swallow the bitter pill and get on with your life.

3. You lost all faith in (insert God/Goddess/deity here).

First: I know the feeling. I went to a Christian college only to discover I was an atheist in my third year there. This realization came about during a bout of depression, where I stayed awake into the middle of the night, praying as hard as I could. The problem? I couldn’t shake the feeling that no one was listening to me on the other end. I felt alone in the dark, as if I was talking to myself. Losing my faith really sucked at first, but I came out with a stronger sense of independence and personal responsibility. You can also look forward to an improved ability to relate with Christians, atheists, and every religion in between.

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4. You feel so very alone in the world.

Do not wait for someone to fix you (unless you want to be waiting forever). You are the CEO of your life. Feeling alone in the world isn’t fun for anybody. But when you take control of your life, you will discover you’re more powerful than you ever imagined.

5. You faced a harsh rejection.

You applied for a job posting that sounded like it was written for you (only to receive a cold rejection e-mail the day after the interview). You asked out a person who you felt was a perfect match (only to be told “sorry, I just don’t see you that way”). You turned in a paper you felt was worthy of an “A” (only to receive a slap-in-the-face in the form of a “C” and snarky written remark from your jerk professor). The specifics notwithstanding, nothing makes you feel inadequate like rejection. But there is a glimmer of hope here: the more rejection you face, the less it will sting. I feel qualified to say this as a freelance writer and theater actor. The harsh reality of my life? I have been rejected for more writing gigs and acting roles than I’d like to admit. But it is what it is and I refuse to let it drag me down. Being turned down for a job used to make me feel insufficient, but today I don’t even flinch. Do likewise.

6. You realized most people don’t give a crap about you.

It’s harsh but it’s true. Most people are only interested in what you can do for them. The sooner you can learn this, the more you can focus on the people who truly appreciate you for who you are.

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7. You are struggling with no end in sight.

I’m not going to pretend to know how you feel or what you’re going through because I don’t, so I’ll spare you the hokey feel-good pep talk. But let me say this: if you’re going through something that makes you feel sad, angry, stressed, or lost… I’m sorry to hear it. That could be a mental or physical ailment, an unfortunate accident, a lost job, or just about anything. But no matter what you are going through, don’t give up hope. Channel your energy into helping other people facing the same struggle that you are. Helping others will make you feel happy and productive (plus you’ll learn that you are far from alone in the world).

8. You learned happiness isn’t a tangible thing.

“If only I had a better job/relationship/friends/body/car, then I would be happy!” Sound familiar? I hate to break it to you, but none of these things are going to make you feel any better. Do they offer temporary gratification? Sure. But life-long happiness? Probably not. Happiness is not a destination you can arrive to. It is a journey (as well as a choice) and just like any other journey, it has its highs-and-lows.

9. You feel like crying your eyes out.

Do it and without a single iota of shame. When is the last time you had a good cry? If you just paused for 10 seconds while deliberating, that means it has been far too long. Holding in your emotions will make them intensify, creating mental monsters that will be much harder to deal with later. Letting your tears come out without objection will help you relieve stress and drop the baggage that’s holding you back.

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10. You don’t know who you are anymore.

Coming to terms with the fact that your concept of self is shallow can be a shattering experience. Waking up to discover the petty, little words you use to describe yourself lack any true meaning can be a harsh slap-in-the-face. But realizing where you live, work, and worship is but a mere drop in the ocean of who you are opens the door for limitless self discovery and personal transformation. In other words: the real fun starts now. If you want to be a better person who strives to be the best human being they can be, consider this your invitation. Are you in?

More by this author

Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on October 14, 2020

The Art of Humble Confidence

The Art of Humble Confidence

To be confident or not to be confident, that is the question. I’m not sure about you, but I’ve been a bit confused about all this discussion about the subject of confidence. Do you really need to be more confident or should you try to be more humble? I think the answer is both – you just have to know where to use it.

East VS West – Confidence, It’s a Cultural Thing

In typical Western countries, the answer to the confidence debate is obvious – more is better. Our heros are rebellious, independent and shoot first, ask questions later. I think this snippet of dialog from The Matrix sums it up best:

Agent Smith – “We’re willing to wipe the slate clean, give you a fresh start. All that we’re asking in return is your cooperation in bringing a known terrorist to justice.”
Neo – “Yeah. Well, that sounds like a pretty good deal. But I think I may have a better one. How about, I give you the finger”
[He does]
Neo -“ …and you give me my phone call.”

In Eastern countries, the tone is often considerably different. Elders are supposed to be revered not dismissed. The words ‘guru,’ meaning a teacher, and the philosophy of dharma, loosely translated to mean ‘duty,’ come from here. In Eastern cultures humility and respect are more important than confidence.

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These perspectives are generalizations, but it shows how the confidence debate goes back deep into our culture. I think that both extremes of pure confidence or pure humility are misguided. Instead of rectifying this situation by simply blending the two: becoming somewhat humble, somewhat confident all the time, I believe the answer is to know when to be confident and when to be humble.

Humble Confidence – Know When to Use It

I’m going to make another broad generalization. I believe that virtually every relationship you are going to have is going to fit into one of two major archetypes, either master or student. In peer relationships this master/student role may switch frequently, but it is extremely rare that the relationship never leans to one side.

In the master role, you are displaying confidence to get what you want. This is public speaker, leader or seducer. Being the master has advantages. You have more control and ability to influence from this role.

The student role is the opposite. You are intentionally displaying humility. This is the student, disciple or follower. Being the student has advantages too. You can learn a lot more in this role and are more likely to win the trust of the other person.

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Know When to Shut Up and Learn

If you are a typical Westerner, you are probably already thinking about which role you prefer. Being the leader is great. You get respect and a higher status. Most of all you get a greater degree of control.

But the problem is that you can’t and shouldn’t always try to be the leader. Trying to assume that role without the skills, resources or status to back it up will lead to conflict. More importantly, there are many times when you purposely want to display humility. Some of the benefits to the student role include:

  • You learn more.
  • Smooths relationships.
  • Makes others more willing to lend a helping hand.

Knowing when taking the humble route is to your advantage. It is far easier to get mentors and advisors if you use humility rather than arrogance. A small sacrifice to your ego can open up the potential to learn a lot.

Confidence to Persuade, Humility to Learn

In reality almost no relationship is as clearly defined as master/student. Within our connections, people have overlapping areas of expertise. I might be an expert in blogging to a non-blogger, but they might be an expert in finance. In each area there are different roles to take.

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Before any interaction ask yourself what the purpose is. Are you trying to learn or persuade?

Persuasion requires confidence. If you are trying to sell, instruct or lead you need to display the confidence to match your message. But learning requires humility. You won’t learn anything if you are constantly arguing with your professors, mentors or employers. Taking a dose of humility and temporarily making yourself a student gives you the opportunity to absorb.

Persuade Less, Learn More

Persuasion is great for immediate effect, but learning matters over the long-haul. Instead of washing over all your communication with pure confidence, look for opportunities to learn. Persuading someone to follow you may give you an immediate boost of satisfaction, but it doesn’t last. Learning, however, is an investment for the future.

Whenever I make a connection with someone and realize they have a skill or understanding I want, I am careful to express humility in that area. That means listening with what they say even if I don’t immediately agree and being patient with their response. This method often drastically cuts down the time I need to spend on trial and error to learn by myself.

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Confidence/Humility Doesn’t Replace Communication Skills

This approach of selectively using confidence and humility for different purposes doesn’t replace communication skills. Humility isn’t going to work if the other person thinks you’re an irritating whiner. Confidence won’t work if the entire room thinks you are an arrogant jerk. Knowing how to display these two qualities takes practice.

The next time you are about to enter into an interaction ask yourself why you are doing it. Are you trying to persuade or learn? Depending on which you can take a completely different tact for far better results.

Featured photo credit: BBH Singapore via unsplash.com

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