You’re a grown-up in a first-world country who’s self-aware enough to know you can always be improving. In case you need some inspiration, here are a handful of ways you can do just that.
Go out of your way to help someone. It takes so, so little to earn a few karma points by helping someone out. Whether it’s by holding the door extra long for a stranger overloaded with bags, patiently showing your co-worker how to do something on the computer (even if it’s so obviously simple to you), or making dinner for a friend or family member who’s having a hard time… you get the idea. It feels good—for you and them. Restore someone’s faith in humanity and feel their gratitude wash over you.
Get out of your comfort zone. Go to a yoga class alone. Figure out the public transportation system. Apply to a job you’re not confident about getting. Try cooking a vegetarian dish. The worst that can happen is you burn perfectly good tempeh or end up on the wrong side of town. Most likely, though, you’ll have new talent, knowledge, or experiences you’ll be proud of—and one less thing to be afraid of.
Show up when you say you’re going to show up. I have been soooo guilty of doing just the exact opposite on multiple occasions. It happens. Things come up, situations change, or you just plain don’t feel like doing something. But really, if you say you’re going to be somewhere, for the love of cheesecake, be there. It ruins your credibility when you don’t, and it’s irritating to everyone else. (Even those nice folks who say, “Don’t worry about it!”) If you know you’re likely to flake and bail, don’t say you’ll go in the first place. It’s not that hard to say no, and you won’t have that icky, guilty feeling you get when you hide behind the “sorrrryyyy” text message.
Call people out on their shit…nicely. It might seem to go against the message behind this post, but it’s especially important to speak up if someone else is causing harm to something or someone else. Have you ever witnessed a group of people not helping an elderly person who’s struggling to cross the street with bags of groceries? It’s similarly bad when no one points out that someone’s being a brat. Don’t let someone be a bully just because everyone else in their life is afraid to tell them off. It’s likely others who aren’t speaking up will be thankful for it.
Keep learning. Back when I was sending out applications for grad school, I promised myself that if I didn’t get in anywhere, I’d take some online courses or pick up a new hobby instead. I got into grad school, so now I’m working on perfecting my craft in a structured environment. But even after I’m done with school for good, I won’t consider my education finished—ever. There are just too many good books waiting to be read. Ask more questions. Do more listening. It’s amazing what you’ll learn when you’re receptive to new information and ideas.
Take better care of yourself. You get one life in one body. So make it a long one. Running on fumes or living a sedentary lifestyle ain’t healthy, and if you don’t take care of your body, how can you expect to excel in other ways? Get plenty of exercise, fresh air, and sleep on a regular basis. Make the extra effort to eat well, too. Respect yourself enough not to make any excuses on this one.
Learn to let go. You ever meet a sad, bitter, angry old person? They didn’t become that way overnight. They spent their whole life a sad, bitter, angry person, and they let it consume and define them. If you don’t want to be like that in 40 years, don’t be like that now. Let go of the things that have hurt you. Some people will treat you unfairly. Some people will never apologize for it. And sometimes life will just be a big old bitch to really good people. Life is random that way. It’s up to you how you handle it. Your aura will be a pretty color if you handle it gracefully.