In a world obsessed with putting wealth, fame and beauty at the forefront of success, many have forgotten the values of what it means to be a nice human being. Instead, we fret over what shirt looks better with what jeans, and still celebrate the notion that, 'greed is good.' But that's where many go wrong. In fact, according to a recent study, Americans are more depressed than they have been in decades and Westerners from other parts of the world aren't much better off.
It should be of little wonder then that those in some of the poorest parts of the world are happiest. Why? Because they are forced to find satisfaction in things that matter, like friendships and working in their local communities instead of blindly pursuing wealth and material items. And while we aren't trying to guilt trip you into moving into the Amazon and taking on a new identity as a tree-hugger, we are offering you the chance to reflect on what it means to be a good human being. Every one of us is nice, but we can always be better.
Here are ten such ways.
1. Dish out the compliments now and then
While going over-the-top with compliments can lower the sincerity of them, showing others you care by saying they look 'gorgeous' or 'amazing' isn't going to hurt them. In fact, they'll probably feel better and more confident inside.
Even just a follow-up text after meeting with someone, worded along the lines of, "I just wanted to let you know how much I missed you. You're an inspiration to me every day, and I don't know what I'do without you in my life," can do wonders to someone's self-esteem.
2. Consider the consequence of your actions before you act
Those who are loud and brash, while often being popular, can be incredibly irritating as well. Of course, it's not their fault. It's merely the way they are geared, and they often don't realize that their words or actions can have quite adverse effects on others.
Some can even misconstrue banter as an offensive insult. So if you're prone to bellowing and have experience in being the perpetrator of others' anguish, then learn to play back what it is you are about to say in your head. And that applies to other walks of life, too. Even throwing litter on the ground, while harmless to others can have wide-reaching implications for the planet. Everything is a result of something, so make sure yours is a positive one and not a negative one.
3. Be less judgmental
It's almost second-nature for us to judge others. What they're wearing, the way they speak, how they conduct themselves. We all do it, and probably without realizing how judgmental we're being.
But it's the same thing, and by only making presumptions about someone's background based on their race, clothes or voice is highly judgmental and snobbish. Instead, see the good in everyone, and be open to anything.
While many are hard-pressed for time and find even fitting in the gym a struggle, the rewards that can be reaped from volunteering- even if it's just one day a week- can be plentiful. All it takes is a couple of hours on a Saturday morning and the joy you'll feel by making the lives of those less fortunate will be priceless.
What's more, you'll find yourself learning more about yourself as a person, and how willing you are to put your needs aside to help others.
It may sound a little rudimentary and perhaps a little bit condescending, but listening well to others and taking it all in as opposed to feigning interest is an attribute surprisingly few of us have. And that's because we're usually busy, and haven't got time to invest ourselves in their problems as well, right?
Wrong! There's no such thing as not having enough time. We make time if it's the right thing to do, and if someone you know is in need, then just being there for them is enough. It doesn't have to involve anything drastic. Sometimes, just being there for someone to talk to and have a shoulder to cry on is enough.
6. Motivate others
We all need strength, and some- more than others- need an arm around their shoulder to be told they can do something.
So why not let that person be you? Even if you're shy and need of a little motivating yourself, you'll find that by pushing those around you the joy of teamwork and achievement will be seen up close.
7. Forgive others
Easier said than done, we know. And if you come across an unsavoury character from the past, like your schoolyard bully, you're not going to want to give them much time. If anything, you'll probably either run for the hills or provide them with an unhealthy dose of their own medicine.
But if you can learn to forgive, then your soul will feel enriched and better off for being accepting of others past misgivings. Remember, everyone can change.
8. Develop a higher level of empathy and compassion
Without empathy, we become invisible bystanders to troubles that can often be resolved with the loving care of just one person. Even if your close friend hasn't shut up about their problems for the past week/years, try not to let your annoyances cloud your judgment.
Remember, just because they are vocal in their distress doesn't mean they are merely complainers and wingers. They are going through a hard time, and if you can take them for who they are and understand their predicament, then you'll manage to be there for them far more than you ever were before.
9. Spend time with nature
In Japan, many citizens now undergo 'Forest Therapy' as a way of overcoming stress and fatigue from living in a fast-paced urban setting. But its benefits aren't just in feeling less fatigued and withered. No, being at one with our natural habitat can also allow us to see what matters most.
And instead of focusing on the glamour of fast cars and waterfront mansions that many of us define success by, you'll find yourself basking in the plethora of natural pleasantries on offer. The lucid colors, the chirping of the birds, the calming feeling of the filtered sun as it gently warms your cheeks. Remember: nature is our home. Material objects are our creations.
10. Speak gently
A famous passage from the bible reads, “Love is always patient and kind. It is never jealous. Love is never boastful or conceited. It is never rude or selfish. It does not take offense and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins, but delights in the truth. It is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.”
It's an apt passage and one which anyone can adhere to. Why? Because no matter what religion, race or gender you belong to, every one of us can be kind. And often, kindness is most prevalent in those who are calm. They see things through others and listen attentively and with genuine interest. They are earnest and give off that vibe by the way they speak. It's slow, with each word carefully cultivated so it can have a substantial effect.
So if you bump into someone after work, look them in the eyes and be earnest in your apology. Or if someone comes to you for advice, be ready to get your thinking hat on and see how best you could help. If you approach life in that manner, you might just change that person's life.