Repeat after me: I am becoming a better version of myself with every passing day.
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I hate to say it, but 2020 brought out the worst in a lot of us. It brought out fear, uneasiness and uncertainty. But it also brought out our ability to pivot. In the last year, we learned that even in the toughest of situations we are able to adjust when necessary to survive and, in some cases, thrive.
If 2020 was the year of life lessons and realizations, 2021 is the year of putting those lessons into practice. And yes, many of those lessons were pretty heavy but they all pretty much amount to the same thing: be a better person
It’s really what all our goals, resolutions and lofty targets are about. Getting us closer to being a better version of ourselves. While self-improvement can take years of therapy (which isn’t accessible to everyone) and reconciliation with traumatic experiences, there are other smaller things you can do right now to help you get there. Dare I say, some things will make you feel like a better person overnight.
Of course, the growth and self-improvement needed to be a better person is a process. No one expects you to become Mother Theresa right away so don’t put pressure on yourself to do so. Instead, focus on just being better than you were yesterday. Luckily, this list can help.
- Make an effort to look your best every day
My mom always said when you look good, you feel good and when you feel good, you do good. So make an effort to look your best at every opportunity. And no, that doesn’t mean put on a ball gown to sit in your living room in the middle of the pandemic stay-at-home orders (though you could). But it does mean you should put some effort into your appearance. Sure, you can put your hair in a messy bun. Just put on some pink lip gloss too. Skip the sweats with a hole in them and instead wear your favorite leggings. And if you can, get rid of the old t-shirts you wear to bed and choose the matching satin pajama set. It may seem shallow, but it’s amazing how looking better can really help you feel better and bring you closer to being a better person
2. Learn to listen
I think the last year has taught us that we got 99 problems but talking over others isn’t one. Society has clearly mastered that one. Instead of listening to respond, try listening to understand. Everything can’t be in a race to get the last word in. Active listening allows you to not only hear what the other person is saying but comprehend it. Next time you are in a conversation forget about proving your point and instead focus on understanding the other person’s point. And if you have a problem with jumping in, try counting to 2 after the person is done talking before you respond. Or check out this book teaching you how to improve listening skills to build better relationships.
3. Turn off phone notifications
If Beyonce has another baby, Trump gets thrown in prison, or Oprah starts giving away cars again, I’m pretty sure you’ll hear about it. So that means, you definitely don’t need notifications for every social media app and news organization on your phone. They can be pretty addictive. And have you actually taken inventory of how many hours a day you spend on your phone? It’s likely a lot more than you realize. ( I know it is for me) Getting rid of those notifications just might help you breathe, feel a bit lighter and connect with other things in your life that truly matter.
4. Give encouragement
After a year like 2020, it’s common to find people who have simply given up hope for a better life. Yes, it may be a while till we recover from the pandemic and the odds are against them. Encourage them anyway. It’s not always easy to be your own cheerleader. Being a better person often means being the cheerleader for someone else when the moment calls for it.
5. Reach out to people the minute they cross your mind
Despite all the billions of people in this world, there are so many people who feel nothing but loneliness. Nothing makes people feel better than knowing they are not only remembered but appreciated. Life moves so quickly that we often neglect people who matter to us without even realizing it. You get so caught up in the cooking, doctor appointments, day job responsibilities and your latest Netlfix obsession that by the time you realize you haven’t reached out to your good friend, several weeks have gone by. Show others that you are a better person with a good heart by reaching out at any passing moment. It doesn’t matter if it’s someone who you haven’t spoken to in months or don’t have anything to say. A simple text saying, “Hey you were on my heart and mind. Just wanted to say I’m thinking about you,” is enough to make anyone feel important. As they say, be somebody who makes everybody feel like someone special.
6. Practice saying, “I was wrong”
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but no one is an expert in everything. ABSOLUTELY NO ONE. So that means, just like it’s ok not to be ok, it’s also ok to say, “I was wrong.” You don’t need to hide in shame in fear of looking stupid, because you actually look even worse if you refuse to admit you were wrong. Every single day we are exposed to new things, new studies are released, and technology changes. Of course, some things we thought we knew years ago can change today. It’s ok to admit you were misinformed, ill-advised or just flat out wrong. Admit it to yourself and then admit it to whoever needs to hear it, whether it be your kids, a friend, or a stranger you argued with on Facebook. Want to be an even better person? Admit you were wrong and then take action.
7. Sign up to be an organ donor
I know there’s a lot of uncertainty when it comes to death and of course, there are religious considerations, but if you have no aversions to it, sign up to be an organ donor. You won’t need your organs after death and there are many people just waiting for another shot of life. In NJ, you can have your license marked for organ donation after death. Doing so will not only help you feel like a better person now, but your legacy of being a better person will live on if your organs are used. You can also consider being a bone marrow donor. Learn more about it at bethematch.org.
8. Practice positive self-talk
It sounds corny, but you really are whatever you say are. If you say you are not good with organization, then you’re not good with organization. If you say, you are beautiful, then you are beautiful. And if you say that you will be happy tomorrow then you will be. So that means, being a better person is as easy as saying you are already a better person. Take kindly to yourself and watch the doors open up to you. If you struggle with it, sign up for my newsletter to get positive affirmations sent to your inbox every month.
9. Learn to forgive
So this one actually could require a bit of therapy, but I did write a blog post about this a while back because it really is so important for self-improvement. If you want to move forward in life, you need to be willing to leave past regrets behind. That means forgiving yourself for your past mistakes or shortcomings. No one is perfect and that includes you. Yet, it’s natural to feel guilty over things you did or should have done. It’s ok if you eat too much pizza, took out a loan you shouldn’t have or found your passion later in life. If you must look back at your past mistakes, recognize the lessons they brought, and apply them to the future. And then look yourself in the mirror and say, “I forgive you for what you did. Now I am a better person for it.”
10. Invest in the good sheets, pillow and fancy sleep aids
Like it or not, lack of sleep seems to be the underlying issue with a lot of our problems. It’s connected to stress, weight gain, irritability, depression, etc. Wouldn’t you agree that you are a much more likable person when you aren’t cranky from exhaustion and well-rested? So it makes sense to invest in all the things that actually improve the quality of your sleep. Go ahead and invest in that amazing light projector that doubles as a white noise machine or that super soft pillow. The better the quality of the sleep, the happier you are, and the easier it is to be a better version of yourself.
11. Support and amplify someone else
Pick one or more people that you believe in and lift them up at every opportunity. Share their posts on social media, buy their products, write reviews, nominate them for rewards. Do all of that, but don’t let the person know that you are doing it. A better person is someone who does something good for someone else without needing the browning points of public recognition. And it’s a beautiful thing to amplify someone else in silence and watch their glow up. They’ll feel good and you’ll feel good doing it.
12. Recycle the right way
Believe it or not, there is a right and wrong way to recycle and most of us do it the wrong way. What do I mean? We throw recyclables away in plastic garbage bags, toss out pizza boxes without cutting out the grease stain in the box and skip rinsing out jars. All these things turn recyclable items into non-recyclable items, and it just gives sanitation works more work. Instead, make sure you are following recycling guidelines to a tee to help preserve our earth cause protecting the earth is definitely something a better person would do.
13. Share your story
While people may think that being a better person equates to being perfect, it doesn’t. To feel like a better person, you may want to relate to more people. And relating to more people often means sharing your story – the good, the bad, the ugly, the mistakes, the wins, etc. Whatever it is, share it. It’s within those stories that you touch lives, learn from your past, and hopefully help others with their futures. Of course, it’s when you share and accept your story that makes it easier for you to be a better person.
14. Move your body daily
Our bodies need physical activity, so please don’t think about it as a punishment for eating junk food or skipping a gym session. It’s necessary for keeping us whole and healthy. So whether it’s 10 minutes a day or one hour a day, commit to moving your body to help put you on the path to prioritizing your health. It can be as simple as putting on a private dance party in the bathroom to jogging a mile. Whatever you choose, make sure you do it religiously because prioritizing your health can help you be a better person too.
15. Toast to the good every night
Life becomes more enjoyable once you realize the beauty in every day. I like to say, “some days may be horrific, but there’s always something that’s terrific.” When you are able to recognize the good things in each day, you’ll be happier and happiness translates into an improvement in so many areas of life. So grab your favorite wine glass and make a toast to the things that went right in the day.
16. Respond to those text messages
Raise your hand if you have a problem with reading text messages and rarely getting back to them in a timely manner. I know I do. No, your whole world shouldn’t stop because you got a text, but it is a tad inconsiderate to let an answered text message sit for hours or days on end without a response if it’s warranted. Try to answer text messages that require a response in a timely manner. And if you don’t for whatever reason, be sure to acknowledge the person for their patience.
17. Spend time every day reviewing your finances
Whether we like it or not, our finances control many aspects of our lives. And when we feel like we aren’t in control of it, it can lead to sleepless nights, stress and overwhelm – all things that make it difficult for us to be the best version of ourselves. Take back control by reviewing your finances a few minutes each day. Pull out your bank statement and look at what’s pending, upcoming bills, and what you may have been overcharged for. Whether you are severely underpaid or well off, it feels good knowing exactly where your money is going and where it should be going. And when you feel in control of your money, you are better able to take control of your life and feel better about yourself. The Inspired Budget blog has great tips on taking control of your finances and Melanie of deardebt.com often runs a wellness challenge that includes a financial review.
18. Take more photos
And I don’t mean a selfie. I’m referring to taking more photos of the moments that bring you joy. You can’t stage all of your life, so you shouldn’t stage all of your photos. Most importantly, make sure you take more photos of the people that truly matter. So go ahead – pull out your camera and start taking some candid shots.
19. Answer surveys
You know those surveys at the end of customer service calls or the ones they give you on the bottom of receipts? Take the time to answer them if you received stellar service. We’re often so quick to complain about bad business and experiences yet slow to acknowledge when someone does a good job. The next time you actually have a pleasant conversation with the insurance representative, stay on the line to complete the survey. Or better yet, when the opportunity presents itself speak to a manager and let them know the person you dealt with was great. Who knows? You could be the reason someone gets a raise.
20. Ask for help
I know asking for help isn’t easy for everyone and that some people actually do go to therapy for this problem, but I’m sure there are simple areas where you can ask for assistance. You are not a one-man or one-woman show. Thinking that you are will likely make you grow tired, bitter, and overwhelmed. Plus, people do enjoy helping others. It helps foster connection, trust, and community. Letting go of the need to do everything on your own will alleviate some pressure from your life and most definitely help you be a better person. Start small, but asking for help picking a new cookbook on a Facebook group or ask a loved one to help carry in the groceries.
21. Visit new places
Being a better person means having the ability to understand people from other walks of life. When you see where people come from, how they live and where they struggle, you are put in a position to help, do good and build community. With the ongoing pandemic, it’s not so easy to travel far. However, you can read books and blogs about life in other places and explore neighborhoods within driving distance that are different than your own. And while there, take the time to learn more about those places without passing judgment so you can truly broaden your horizons.
22. Notice the unnoticed
Pay attention to the people the world often ignores. For example, the homeless, disabled, minorities, and special needs community are often pushed aside by society. Learn more about them, and do it on a normal day and not just because it’s a holiday. So learn about Epilepsy on days besides Epilepsy Awareness Month. Learn about Autism on days outside of Autism Awareness Month. Learn about Black history on days besides Black History Month. Learn about Rare Diseases on days other than Rare Disease Day. The list goes on. Our knowledge of special and diverse communities shouldn’t be limited to one day. And being a better person means expanding your knowledge of them to help create a more inclusive world every day. There are so many groups that are so used to going unnoticed. Imagine how whole they’ll feel if someone would only notice them AND were aware of what they need to feel comfortable.
You could be that someone. You could be that better person.