Zen Habits: 10 Ways to be a Better Person

betterforblogMy guess is that we all think we are pretty good people. We say “Please” and “Thank you”. We open the door for old ladies or folks with their hands full. These are good things to do, but let’s face it – you could do more.

Being a “good person” is a state of being, not a culmination of the things you do for others. It starts with your attitude towards yourself and trickles down to each person you encounter throughout your day. When you get mad at the waitress who forgot to place your order, you are changing the rest of her day, and yours as well.

  1. Relax. This is temporary. – Whatever situation you are in just remember – it is temporary. Whether you are stuck in traffic or going through a divorce – it is temporary. Remembering to take a deep breath and tell myself “This isn’t forever” is the only way I got through this last year in Austin.
  2. Don’t take your anger out on others. It’s ok to get angry, but you must learn to control it. Don’t let anger be a part of your decision making process. Calm your mind and body before making any decisions, phone calls, emails, or anything else that could make your situation worse. Work out. Talk a walk. Meditate… but don’t yell at people. It isn’t nice.
  3. Do the right thing. You have a choice to do the right thing or not. That means you can decide to be a good person all day long. There are little things you can do throughout your day that are helpful and kind. Return your shopping cart. Make more coffee if you take the last cup. Pick up trash if you see it. Leave a tip.
  4. Be honest. Sometimes it seems easier to tell a little white lie than to tell the truth. I’m guilty of that myself. But in the long run being honest is far easier and more helpful to others. If you ask for my opinion about something, you will not get a watered down version of the truth. You will get my honest opinion. I’ll tell you if you look fat in those pants. I’ll tell you what I think about politics, parenting, travel… anything. Being honest cuts the bullshit and let’s you get on with your day. Just try to be kind and honest at the same time.
  5. Listen. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who was just waiting for their tun to talk? It sucks, right? Give whoever is speaking the courtesy of being a good listener. Taking the time to listen to other people might give you a new perspective, or teach you something you didn’t know about yourself. It also shows that you care about other folks and what they have to say.
  6. healthierforblogBe kind to yourself. Make sure your inner dialogue is kind. Stop beating yourself up. Don’t call yourself fat, stupid, ugly or anything else unkind. When you tell yourself that you are fat or ugly – that becomes your truth whether or not it is actually true. Think of positive things about yourself and focus on those. The flaws will still be there but you will be better able to deal with them if you are coming at them from a place of kindness.
  7. Don’t be rude. In this day and age rudeness has become quite acceptable. People feel they have a right to say rude things to others via the internet and in person. Saying that you’ve had a hard day and you are going to “slap a bitch” isn’t just rude – it’s ugly. It might be “funny” but it is also pretty low class. Use other peoples rudeness as a reminder to yourself not to do it. If someone cuts you off on the freeway, take a deep breath and make sure to let the next person in. Being nice will serve you better in the long run.
  8. Ask questions. If you don’t understand something, ask questions. Don’t let a conversation, or a work project move forward without you because you were too embarrassed to ask questions. Smart people ask questions and are eager to learn. It also shows you are listening, interested and committed.
  9. Stop with the excuses already! If you have read my blog for any length of time you know how I feel about excuses. They are lame. If there is something you want to do, then just do it. I absolutely despise where I live, so I am moving. When I was overweight I changed my diet and started exercising. Only you have the power to change your situation. Making excuses for your weight, finances, your kids behavior won’t help change any of it. Change starts with you.
  10. Be flexible. Being flexible and open to change is one of the most important things you can do. Being adaptable to new people and environments shows your willingness to learn and engage with others. People who always have to be in control, or have a rigid schedule for themselves (and sometimes their family!) are usually living out of fear. Rigidity is a sign of weakness and fear. Being flexible and adaptable opens you up to more experiences, happiness, and love. Bend with the wind rather than break. You’ll be less stressed and more happy. Is having things done your way worth the stress? Probably not.

17 thoughts on “Zen Habits: 10 Ways to be a Better Person

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