39 Things You Can Do to Be a Better, Happier Person
We spend a lot of time in these articles focusing on the purely physical – how you can improve your diet, why you’re not seeing six pack abs, what exercises work best for different goals. Today, I’m going to give you 39 (because I like weird numbers, that’s why!) things you can start doing to just be a better You in general. Some of these are social, some physical, some emotional, and some mental. Don’t feel like you have to master this list in a day, a week, or even a year.
But start making improvements right now.
Your homework is to pick two things on this list and try to add them to your life over the next two weeks.
That’s it. Nice and simple. Here we go!
Compliment Yourself – you are often your own worst critic, and negative self talk is a dangerous thing. Every day, compliment yourself on one thing you’re good at. Bonus points for two things!
Don’t Make Excuses – there’s nothing worse for your goals and motivation than always blaming others or making excuses why things don’t work out. Own your failures and learn from them. Then do it better.
Let Go of Anger – this is a hard one, but it will make you so much happier. When someone makes you angry, practice letting go of that anger by thinking positive thoughts.
Practice Forgiveness – grudges come from anger, and anger is a cancer. When you know you’re holding something against someone, practice this mantra (and mean it!): “I forgive and release you”
Be Honest and Direct – people often have a hard time with directness and honesty; we’re taught that it’s rude. But you know what people can never fail to respect? Directness and honesty.
Be Helpful – even, and especially, when there’s nothing in it for you. People need help, usually more often than they’re admit. Help with no expectation of reward because it’s kind, not because it’s profitable.
Listen to Others – people need, and like, to talk about things that are on their minds. Listen, and show them you’re listening by asking open ended, leading questions to help them talk more.
Act Locally – your local community is a shared space, and you should be acting in it’s best interest. Even from a purely selfish standpoint, having a better neighborhood is good, but acting locally also benefits everyone around you.
Always Be Polite – always, even and especially when people aren’t polite to you. “Please”, “thank you”, etc are not dirty words, and just because someone else is acting like an ass doesn’t mean you should. Be the better person.
Be Yourself – there is only one of you: own it, love it, be it, rock it out. Are you weird? Awesome, be weird. Dance randomly because it makes you happy. Collect oddly shaped rocks. Wear a scarf the size of a VW Beetle. Whatever and whoever you are, be you. Unless you get the chance to be Batman, and then of course, always be Batman.
Be Open to Change – life changes, things happen, the world keeps spinning. Generally speaking, humans don’t like change; we like routine and comfort. We like the familiar. Break past that and start getting familiar with change. Do something regularly that changes up your life, just to do it. Rearrange the furniture in your house. Take a different way to work. If you eat out often, start going to a new place every weekend. Just do something different, and see what happens!
Be Respectful – much like being polite, be respectful of those around you. You may not always agree with the opinion of others, but remember that just because they disagree with you doesn’t mean they’re attacking you. Listen, think before you speak, and speak respectfully at all times.
Don’t Show Up Empty-handed – when you go over to a friends house, take something to show you appreciate being invited. Whether that’s a six pack of beer, a small snack to share, or a fun game to contribute to the entertainment for the evening, take something with you. This is true even if that person tells you you don’t need to bring anything. Go the extra mile.
Educate Yourself – education is the bedrock of a strong mind. Coupled with mindfulness, educating yourself forms your conduit to interacting with the outside world from a place of understanding. You don’t need to be an expert on everything, but having a basic knowledge of many areas, enough so you can at least ask questions in an intelligent way, will go far in having great conversations.
Surprise People – buy someone a small gift. Send them a nice text. Email them a cool article you think they might like. Whatever you do, surprise someone with a kind gesture when they don’t expect it. You may be doing the only nice thing that person gets all day. If that’s not worth a few minutes of your time, I don’t know what is.
Be A Role Model – to kids or adults. When you complain about someone else being rude, having bad habits, or generally making poor choices, take a look at yourself and ask, “am I doing what’s best in my own case?” If you’re not serious about your diet, then don’t judge others who make poor eating choices. If your kids are being jerks to others, take a look at how you talk to people (especially in public, and especially strangers). People mimic and model off of other people, sometimes without knowing it. Be the positive you want to see in others.
Do Something You Don’t Want To – and break out of your comfort zone. Don’t want to clean the house? Do it anyway! Nervous about taking on a big project that you’re qualified to do? Volunteer! Don’t feel like going to the gym, but honestly still have the time? Get out there and go! Successful people do the things that need to be done, not just the things they want to do.
Control your social media time – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the other social media outlets are mostly wasted time. How many hours do you really need to spend reading other people’s status updates and hitting the Like button? If you spend a lot of time on social media (and you’re not actively being productive) then start cutting that time in half every day. Normally spend three hours per day? Cut that down to 1.5 hours, and with the other 1.5 hours go create something. Instead of clicking Like, write the first few paragraphs of a story you have in your head, or an eBook in your career field. Do this every day, and you’ll have a book inside three months.
Practice gratitude – stop taking things for granted and just be thankful for the stuff you have in your life. The shutters on your house are a little old…but you have a house whereas many people barely scrape by in apartments or cardboard boxes. Your dinner at Ruby Tuesday was a little overcooked…but you can afford to eat out regularly where other people eat every other day, and sometimes it’s cat food. I don’t care what it is, be thankful for it and quit yer bitchin’.
Let go of defensiveness – people disagree and sometimes you’re wrong. It’s cool. It’s okay. It happens. If you truly believe that you have a valid opinion, you should be open to discussing it like an adult. Your response to being disagreed with should never be anger, resentment, or defensiveness. The other person/people will stop listening and will not give your opinion any credence if you have a negative emotional reaction to the conversation. So, chill out. Take a breath. Explain why you think what you think, and be prepared to be either ignored or wrong.
Reflect empathy – some people are better at this than others, but it’s a good skill to practice. Try to put yourself into the role of someone else, so you can try to understand their feelings on a topic. It may not be perfect, but if you can show that you’re trying to understand, often that can make all the difference. If you really can’t get in their shoes, ask questions to help them talk about it: “how does that make you feel? I don’t blame you for feeling like that, I probably would too. What do you think would help you feel better about it?” And most importantly: Listen to what they say!
Own your talents proudly – you may not be Tony Stark (superhero, billionaire, genius, playboy) but you have talents and strengths that are unique to you. Own them and practice them. Use them to create value for yourself and others. People probably won’t remember (or, rather, care) that you’re a nice person who is kind to puppies. But they will remember that you volunteer at the SPCA on the weekends because you’re good with cats, or that you teach a math program to underprivileged kids because you’re great at algebra. Whatever your talent, use it!
Don’t Let S**t Roll Down Hill – this means at work or at home, refuse to pass on the negative behavior of those above you. Your boss was a dick? Okay, it happens, but don’t go home and kick the cat. In fact, strive for the opposite: look at the bad behavior you get from people who are supposed to be leaders, and then reverse it for everyone you should be leading/mentoring/etc.
Know what you don’t know – it’s okay not to know the answer. Really, it is. Even experts in their field don’t know everything about their field, and in fact many specialize into very niche areas and mostly ignore the other stuff (medicine and the sciences are really great examples of this). And this is totally okay! Be honest with what you know and with what you don’t know. If you you can’t answer a question, practice saying “I don’t know, but I’ll find out!”
Advocate for positive change – if you want your workplace, neighborhood, or state to make changes that will benefit your local or great community, why are you sitting around waiting for someone else to do the work of making that change happen? You may not have the time to be a full-on lobbyist, but you can volunteer for local planning committees once per month. Maybe you don’t have the resources to donate tons of money to charity, but you can probably participate in an event here or there. Go be a part of the change; don’t leave it up to someone else to do.
Be the partner you wish to have – for my married/attached people out there, be the type of partner you want in a relationship. If you want kindness, be kind. If you want understanding, be understanding. I know this can be hard, because sometimes the person who can make you the most upset is the person you love the most. I get it. Try anyway.
Seek out like-minded organizations, and contribute – much like advocating for positive change, take part in larger organizations and groups that share your beliefs and goals. This is a good first step in helping bring about the positive changes you think will benefit your community.
Be curious and open – this is the exact opposite of bigotry and hatred. You should always have an open mind to things around you. New thoughts, new feelings, new beliefs, new experiences, new knowledge. Open your mind to the idea that you don’t know or understand everything, and let the world show you what’s out there.
Treat your body with respect – almost every other article on www.CrossFitCatonsville.com is about respecting your body. Here’s the gist: eat right, exercise, and don’t do crack.
Eradicate ignorance and fear – the best way to do this is by being curious and open, knowing what you don’t know, and being a decent person to people around you. Conveniently, all of the other tips on this list lead you to removing your ignorance about the world/others and helping you conquer fear of the world/others.
Read a book – seriously. Turn off the TV for 30 minutes and start reading a book. Any book. Every book has something that it can offer you, even if that something is “how not to write a book”. Reading forces you to practice language skills, use your imagination, and understand things in new ways. You should be reading a decently sized book a couple times per year (or more).
Look up something on Wikipedia and learn about it – not sure what to look up? Okay I got you: go to www.wikipedia.org, find the left-hand sidebar, and click “Random Article”. Great, now read the whole article that pops up. I don’t care how interesting it is, just read it. BAM! You’ve learned something. Did you know that oilite is a porous bronze or iron alloy that has been made porous and then impregnated with lubricant via powder metallurgy? Me neither! But they’re used for machinery bearings, which is kind of cool. But seriously, go to Wikipedia and have at it.
Learn to count to 10 a foreign language you find impossible to learn – some native languages lend themselves to learning other similar languages easily. For instance if you speak Spanish natively, you can probably pick up French without too much effort, since they’re both Latin based. English speakers might find German easier than Latin based languages. All of us probably find Asian languages damn near impossible. Whatever your language base, pick something out in left field and learn to count to 10 in that language.
Don’t say “I can’t” for 24 hours. 48 if you can help it – this is super simple. Just stop saying “I can’t” and try to find a way that you can. It really is as easy as that.
Create a bucket list – not because you think you’re going to die anytime soon, but to remind you that time is limited and you have goals. If you want to do and see a lot of stuff before you shuffle off this mortal coil (and you should, because otherwise where’s the fun?) then you need to start getting on with it! Chances are, once you start making your bucket list, you’ll come up with more and more stuff that sounds cool. And chances are also good that once you start experiencing things on your list, you’ll come up with more stuff yet again! Use this as a tool to live a full life, and then have at it!
Consider Your Impact on Others – the things you do resonate throughout the rest of your life. Unkind, curmudgeonly people tend to have fewer positive associates or friends. Why? Because positive people don’t want to be around negativity all the time! Even when you’re having a bad day, consider that the way you act has an impact on everyone you meet in a given day. People will remember how you make them feel, and if you’re making people feel like crap, you’ll start losing the chance to make them feel anything at all.
Think Before You Speak – for the love of Kevin Bacon, stop spurting random crap from your mouth-hole. Take 5-10 seconds and really think about what you’re about to say. If someone is impatient, don’t let their impatience drive you. It’s better to keep silent and be assumed a fool, then to speak unwisely and remove all doubt.
Use Your Strengths – we talked about owning your talents earlier, but this is a slightly different version that bears it’s own point. You need to own your talents, and be proud of them, but you also need to be using them to accomplish something. Being the best writer in the world doesn’t do you any good if you never sit down and write anything. Use what you have, get even better at it, and make a positive change in the lives of others by doing so.
Recognize Your Weaknesses – last but certainly not least, recognize that sometimes you really do suck at something. Here’s the thing: that’s okay! It’s not bad to be bad at something. The trick is to know when you have a weakness, and take steps to improve at them. You may not ever be a musician on the level of Beethoven, but you can learn to play some simple stuff on the piano. You may not ever play Olympic sports, but that doesn’t mean you can be good enough to have some fun in intramural leagues. But it all starts with knowing, and accepting, your weaknesses.
And that’s it for the day! Remember…
Your homework is to pick two things on this list and try to add them to your life over the next two weeks.
I don’t care what they are, just pick two and get started!
Bonus Points: Post your two things to social media, and ask that people help you stick to your goals.