After watching Ideapod founder Justin Brown’s latest video on not being a good person, I had the uncomfortable realization I’m also not a good person.
I’m a little neurotic at times, incredibly self-conscious, have many insecurities and generally feel like a bit of a lemon in life.
These aren’t such bad things in and of themselves. I’ve taken Rudá Iandê’s masterclass on personal power and understand that everyone has these so-called negative qualities.
The problem for me is that my insecurities result in bad behavior.
I’m a selfish person. I hoard my wealth and don’t give anything to charity. I don’t check in on my friends.
In short, I care only about myself and don’t do anything for other people.
I’m not a good person.
But I want to improve myself. I want to be a better person.
So I have spent today doing a huge amount of soul-searching and realized that I can take action immediately in becoming a better person.
It’s all about shifting my focus from myself to other people… I’m therefore going to do the following 5 things.
1) Learn to give more to others
Everyone wants to be successful.
But here’s what many get wrong:
Success does not necessarily mean having to be on top; it’s not about dragging others done as you claw your way above.
Money blinds people, and in our society, success is measured by how much money you earn.
Still, this doesn’t always have to be the case.
Here’s the truth:
Success can be defined in many, many ways — one of which is by how much you’ve given others a helping hand.
In learning how to be a better person, you should learn how you can be of better use to others.
In fact, focusing on helping other people will make us happier anyway, according to research.
“A lot of times we think that happiness comes about because you get things for yourself…But it turns out that in a paradoxical way, giving gets you more, and I think that’s an important message in a culture that’s pretty often getting messages to the opposite effect.” – Richard Ryan, a psychologist at the University of Rochester
There’s a Chinese saying that goes: “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”
You might be wondering:
“How should I help others?”
Well, the answer is rather simple:
In any — and every — way you can.
Is your old neighbor having problems cutting their lawn? Take some time off your weekend to cut their grass for free.
Help your kids out with their homework.
Do the household chores if it’s always your partner doing them.
Go to an animal rescue center and volunteer for a while to ease the burden on others.
You don’t have to know someone on a personal level to be of help; strangers and loved ones alike will appreciate your assistance.
2) Be polite to everyone
“I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.” – Albert Einstein
No matter your social status, politeness is important.
We could all use a little more kindness.
Even if the world takes so much from you, don’t be that person who feels it’s okay to be rude to others for no good reason.
Even if you’re feeling bad, it’s still no excuse to ruin another person’s day. Don’t pass onto others what you wouldn’t want to experience yourself.
Be kind. To everyone.
Greet the office janitor in the morning. Thank the waiter for refilling your glass of water. Say thanks to the person who kept the elevator door open for you.
Why should you be polite?
Because kindness goes a long, long way.
Saying “thank you” can do more for you than you think as well. Research has shown that practicing gratitude can actually make you feel more optimistic, happier and more motivated to get things done.
“Another leading researcher in this field, Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, tested the impact of various positive psychology interventions on 411 people, each compared with a control assignment of writing about early memories. When their week’s assignment was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness, participants immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores.” – Harvard Health Blog
Furthermore, have you ever felt small or ignored?
That’s what some people experience, perhaps due to the monotony of their jobs.
Most drivers don’t even look at toll booth workers — as if they’re mere robots who don’t deserve acknowledgment every once in a while.
Offering your thanks or giving them a smile can lighten up their mood.
It can motivate them to keep doing their job.
And if you succeed in making others feel better about themselves, you’re one step closer to becoming a better person.
3) Don’t be afraid of change
Remember what Benjamin Franklin said?
“In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
You can’t always prepare for what lies ahead.
And in order to learn how to be a better person, you have to accept change.
Yes, it’s true:
Change isn’t always a good thing.
But this is also true:
You can’t be certain about whether something is good or bad for you if you don’t try it:
— If change pertains to a change in belief, you have to educate yourself.
— If it involves a new hobby or activity, you have to experience it.
— If it’s about a change in behavior, you must examine yourself.
Don’t close the door to a new world.
More often than not, facing the unknown, the unfamiliar, is part of the process of becoming better.
Look at it this way:
You have to start somewhere, right?
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Don’t let yourself become stagnant, being too comfortable with what you already know or have.
Go out there and learn a new skill:
— Does woodworking interest you?
— Do you want to explore the futuristic world of 3D printing?
— If you’ve always been surfing, why not take to the skies and try skydiving for once?
There are risks, yes.
But there are also rewards:
You bring light into what was once out of sight, opening yourself up to more possibilities.
Plus, the journey of going through a change of pace is rewarding in itself.
“Change is inevitable in life. You can either resist it and potentially get run over by it, or you can choose to cooperate with it, adapt to it, and learn how to benefit from it. When you embrace change you will begin to see it as an opportunity for growth.” – Jack Canfield
4) Organize your thoughts
A clear mind is important.
Knowing how to be a better person means knowing yourself first.
If you don’t even have a clear idea of who you are, what you’re capable of, and what you want in life, how can you proceed?
After all, there’s a seemingly infinite number of ways to become better.
But the sheer amount of options can backfire:
Instead of being inspired to take on all the opportunities, you experience a standstill.
To help you understand, let’s talk about The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.
In this book is a story about a fig tree.
The tree had so many figs, each of which represented a bright future ahead for the character named Esther.
So what was the problem?
Esther couldn’t choose a fig to pick from the tree — each was just so alluring.
In the end, all the figs began to rot and fell to the ground, leaving her with nothing.
What does this mean for you?
It’s that you cannot afford to remain confused.
You don’t have all the time in the world to keep daydreaming.
In learning how to be a better person, you need a specific plan, one that suits you perfectly.
So here’s what you should do:
1) Get a pen and a journal.
2) Write down your thoughts.
3) Make this a daily habit.
This way, you can clear your head of all the what-ifs.
According to Ideapod, journaling:
“Helps the mind to center and reorganize all those spiraling thoughts that leave you in a fog. You’ll notice a picture emerging of the real issue at hand. You’ll be able to gain insights because you’ve literally emptied your mind of clutter. Doing this prepares your mind for more important thinking.”
If you’re feeling lost, read your journal — you’ll get a better sense of your identity and where you’re heading.
(For more techniques you can use to get to know yourself more and what your purpose is in life, check out our eBook on how to be your own life coach here.)
5) Find Inspiration in Others
Knowing how to be a better person can get stressful.
You may feel lost at times.
Because there’s no complete blueprint for such a multi-faceted objective. You have to carve your own path to becoming better.
Luckily, there’s a way to stay optimistic:
Find a role model.
In fact, find role models.
The more people inspire you, the more you can see how success works out in a variety of ways.
So, where do you find these amazing individuals?
A common answer would be to search for the most admirable people throughout history.
Certainly, there are many you can find there:
— The man who stood in front of multiple tanks at Tiananmen Square as a form of protest.
— Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin for being the first humans to walk on the moon.
— Maya Angelou for using her art to speak out against racism.
But there’s a catch:
Finding inspiration in some of the greatest people in the world can make you aim for something unattainable:
Since you don’t personally know these individuals, you might develop an ideal vision on how to be a better person.
Still, there is a way to stop thinking in perfectionist terms:
Rather than aiming to achieve what they did on the same scale, look at their stories instead.
Find inspiration in the how rather than the what:
— How did they overcome any socioeconomic limitations in attaining their goals?
— How did they come to the realization of what they wanted to change in the world?
— How did education and family life shape their future?
The same applies to the people you personally know.
You can find role models in your life.
This could be your high school teacher, your mom, your sister, your coworker, or your significant other.
No matter who they are, you can find inspiration on how to be a better person in their stories.
How to be a better person for yourself and others: Sum up
The great thing about life is that you can always improve.
Life won’t stop you from becoming a better version of yourself every single year.
Just remember these things:
— Becoming better does not mean having to bring others down.
— You can be a better person by helping out others.
— Positivity is infectious; a simple smile can brighten up someone’s day.
— Don’t be afraid of change; embracing it will open new doors in life.
— Stop overthinking; write down your thoughts to understand what you really want in life.
— Inspiration is everywhere.
The process doesn’t happen overnight.
It requires you to form new habits and a more positive outlook on life, slowly but surely.
In the end, other people might just find inspiration from your success story on how to be a better person.