Modern life frequently leaves us no time to focus on our own well-being.

IN BUSINESS & INDUSTRY THERE IS A BELIEF THAT THERE IS ALWAYS ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT and I don’t remember ever meeting anyone who did not want to become a better person. However, wanting to be a better person and actually choosing to be a better person are two different things. Becoming a better person requires that we make significant changes in our lives and the way we relate to others, let go of negative and unproductive habits and adopt a different outlook on life. If you reached this sentence, it is no coincidence that this article has attracted your attention; please read on and see if you are ready to choose to be better!

1. SMILE A smile can change a situation for the better, as it has an impact on people’s attitude toward you. If anything, a smile conveys a sense of friendliness, caring, is non-threatening, and it shows a willingness to engage cordially and peacefully. Just think about how you would like to be received, with a frown or with a smile, and it takes less of an effort and fewer muscles to smile than to frown. Give smiling a try and you’ll find yourself a much happier person at the end of the day.

2. STOP AND THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK, IN THAT ORDER Your words and actions have a positive or negative impact on the people around you—family members, friends, or simply total strangers. Just as you affect them, they impact others, and the ripple effect spreads. The most effective way to prevent hurting other people is to think of the ramifications of your words. Most times, there are non-aggressive, non-negative ways to deal with almost any issue. Words often hurt more than anything else. Do you really need to say something hurtful? How would you feel if it were said to you or about you? When you’re upset, does it really help you feel better if you lash out with your own hurtful expressions? Stop, think and speak.

3. A LIFE WELL LIVED… Serving others has its own rewards, not only for the person receiving the help but also for you. Altruism has its emotional recompenses. It helps you grow socially and emotionally, as you begin understanding the needs of others and the difference you can make in the world by becoming a better person. It is well known that people who struggle with self-esteem/concept issues and fragile self-identities experience emotional growth from serving others. A stronger sense of self emanates from helping others than from having material possessions.

4. USE AND SHARE YOUR GIFTS We all have strengths which frequently are not easy for us to recognize. Most commonly, we can write a long list of our weaknesses while struggling to find our strengths. If you think you are a good listener and can come up with ways to help people solve problems, share that gift; use it to improve the life of others as well as your own. If you are a good cartoonist, share it with someone—visit a children’s hospital and draw portraits for them. Otherwise your talent serves no purpose. However, remember that a strength (or talent) is not in any way a trait of perfection or superiority over others.

5. RECOGNIZE YOUR WEAKNESSES—TURN THEM INTO STRENGTHS Recognizing your weaknesses is the most important step toward becoming a better person but striving to become a better person is not the same as pursuing perfectionism. Being perfect cannot be the goal because it will lead to a life-long pursuit of your own tail—and believe me, you’ll never catch it. The effort of trying to become a better person is rewarding alone and will make a difference. To recognize your weaknesses is also to note areas that could be turned into strengths, which could lead to getting you closer to becoming the person you have chosen to be. Try not to be destructively self-critical in this process to the point of being left emotionally depleted and with a sense of hopelessness. Strive to achieve small realistic goals, focusing on one goal at a time. If you have problems recognizing your weaknesses, ask a friend or family member to help you identify them. Be patient. Change, of any kind, takes time. Keep focused and remember the ultimate goal is to become a better person.

6. TAKE BETTER CARE OF YOURSELF—MENTALLY & PHYSICALLY Modern life frequently leaves us no time to focus on our own well-being. Often times our days are spent doing so much for others, there is not any time left for ourselves. With an obesity problem sweeping the country, with all its potential devastating consequences, it is important to take care of our bodies, our temples. But it cannot end there. We must also take care of our emotional health. Have fun in life, share with family and friends, seek outlets to reduce stress and confront negative thinking. Pursue professional help when you cannot solve problems on your own or talk to people in your life that you trust. Caring for yourself shows self-love and respect and when you take care of yourself, you have so much more to give to others.
7. BE GRATEFUL AND SHOW IT It is not possible to be 100% self-sufficient. There are always needs that are met with or through others. It’s wrong yet easy to take others for granted. The fast pace of our lives, the ever present technologies and our own personal issues can lead to ignoring how important someone like a spouse or a relative can be in our lives. Recognizing what others do for us or what others do well for others and for society is important. Never miss an opportunity to say thank you or to praise someone for a job well done. After all, wouldn’t we like to be treated the same way?

8. EXPLORE YOUR FAITH/SPIRITUALITY It is well known that faith can serve to mediate stress and mental illness. Faith helps believers remain hopeful and positive in order to navigate through the choppy waters and tough times in their lives. If you feel connected to others by faith, find time to practice and enhance it, and to share it with like-minded people. Proselytizing is not what is suggested here, but try to find comfort in the presence of others. Human beings are social beings and social interaction keeps us healthy!

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