When we go in for a job interview we strive to be (or at least appear) confident, hard-working, and professional. We hope to demonstrate our problem-solving skills and our ability to not only get along with but work with others. And when we’re going on a date? We attempt to conceal our nerves and come off cool and collected instead; we showcase our kindness and try our best at being funny. In situations like these, we want to, in a way, perform at our best—so, we tailor our actions accordingly. But my question is, why don’t we strive to be our best selves day in and day out? Whether we have a job interview, a date, or nothing special planned at all. We should be asking ourselves each morning, how can I be a better person today? And while calling your grandma and buying coffee for the person in line behind you is certainly a start, it’s more about embodying the qualities that make a great person, well, great. So, if you live each day driven by and demonstrating the following traits, you’ll be on your way to greatness too:
Hold the door open for the family behind you. Help the old woman load her groceries into the car. Give the homeless man on the corner the benefit of the doubt and a couple of dollars. If we were all just a bit more generous—in our actions and in our thoughts—then our world and all of our lives would remarkably improve. Just imagine: 7 billion people going out of their way for each other.
Let’s just admit it, we’re all innately a little judgmental. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be open-minded too. Follow up your initial observations with a sincere effort to not only get to know someone but understand them as well. They may come from a different background, have a different belief system, and look nothing like you, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the same respect or kindness that everybody else receives. So just make it a rule of thumb to open your mind to new ideas and new people! You might even make a best friend out of it.
It’s easy to get caught up in your own life and your own troubles. But just remember—there are people out there suffering in a way you will never know or experience. So the next time you’re getting down on yourself about gaining a few pounds or declaring it’s the end of the world after a break-up, think about your fortunes as well as the misfortunes of others. And then do your best to help them through these misfortunes: donate to the American Cancer Society, take some baked goods to the homeless shelter, adopt a dog in need. Focus less so on yourself and be more compassionate toward others.
We all need to just cool our jets and practice more patience. For example, instead of sighing and tapping your foot until you make it to the register, stay calm; and when the cashier apologizes for the wait, tell her it’s okay and mean it. She will feel loads better, as will you. Patience often eliminates frustration, pressure, and all-around negative experiences. So stop honking at slow traffic and willing class to go by faster—it won’t work. Instead, live in each moment and gracefully move through life.
Smile: it’s the simplest act of kindness and can go an extremely long way—I can’t emphasize that enough. Smile at the cashier who’s ringing you up at the grocery store, smile at the couple walking down the street, smile at your neighbor when you leave for work. Feeling extra kind? Compliment them, tell them to have a great day. That’s right, all it takes sometimes is a smile, a dash of attention, and contagious positivity.
*Do one more by performing random acts of kindness every day! Having trouble thinking up ideas? Here’s a list of 25 easy acts of kindness to choose from*