Be a Better Person -- Starting Today
by Lambeth Hochwald
If you've been feeling a little crabby lately -- maybe you feel more stressed or extra burdened than ever -- it is possible to give yourself a personal reboot and be the kind of person others admire.
Our experts offer seven ways to increase your generosity, patience and tolerance -- starting today.
Tip No. 1: Fill Your Personal "Pitcher"
Before you can be bighearted towards others, you have to do what certified health and wellness coach and registered dietician Adrienne Raimo calls "filling your pitcher" first. "This means taking care of yourself and your body," says Raimo. "To be the best you can be, do your best to eat well, exercise and reduce stress. Otherwise, you'll feel depleted."
Tip No. 2: Ask Yourself Some Tough Questions
"The first step to becoming your best self requires brutal honesty," says Kerry Connelly, a certified life coach. "Ask yourself what you're good at, what your faults are and what are the things that repeatedly come up that hold you back. By becoming aware of your constant frustrations and the ways in which you're responsible for them, you'll experience a greater sense of peace and well-being."
Tip No. 3: Find a Way to Be Compassionate
So much of our negative actions are based in fear, says Jen Hancock, author of several books, including The Humanist Approach to Happiness. Ironically, the antidote to that fear is compassion. "When we view negative people and situations through a compassionate lens, we no longer view people who scare us as giant ogres. They're frail humans, just like us." Next time someone cuts you off in traffic or posts something on your Facebook feed that gets under your skin, think a kind thought: "Maybe he was in a rush because of a family emergency," or "I may not agree with her, but I admire her passion for her cause."
Tip No. 4: Own Your Own Stuff
That means taking responsibility for both your successes and failures without beating yourself up for it, says life coach Elaine Taylor-Klaus. "Decide that you're going to stop making excuses to anyone, especially yourself. No more: 'Sorry I'm late, there was a slow truck and I hit every light.' Try, instead: 'Sorry I'm late. I just didn't allow myself quite enough time to get here.'"
Tip No. 5: Be Thankful for the Good -- and Bad
It's not always easy to be thankful for rough times, but they help you to become a better person, suggests Colene Elridge, a life coach in Lexington, Ky. "When you're experiencing something unfavorable in your life, stop and say, 'What am I learning from this that I didn't know before?' Use every experience as an opportunity to learn."
Tip No. 6: Avoid Gossip and Drama
Resist the temptation to join in the fray when your friends dish about work or the Kardashians. "When we gossip, it's hard to feel good about ourselves," says Alanna Zabel, a certified yoga instructor whose company, AZIAM Yoga, created a 30-Day Non-Judgment Challenge this spring. "Judging others will only drag you down."
Tip No. 7: Always Apologize
If you've made a mistake, 'fess up. "Tempting as it can be to pretend to be perfect, we all fail from time to time," says Lauren M. Bloom, author of The Art of the Apology: How, When and Why to Give and Accept Apologies. "An effective apology can not only restore trust and heal relationships, it can also help the person making the apology cultivate honesty, humility and empathy -- all wonderful qualities."
Lambeth Hochwald is an editor and writer from New York. Her work has appeared in such publications and websites as Woman's Day, Ladies' Home Journal, Organic Spa and Entrepreneur.com. She is also an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University.
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