4 Ways to be a Better Person

How to Become Better? A Very Human Question:

I’ve been chewing on this question for a while which is “How do I become a better person?” It’s a bit of a loaded question is it not? There are a seemingly limitless amount of facets to the individual human being all of which contribute to the overall personality and trajectory of a singular life within this world. Taking the time for this type of self-reflection opens the door to thoughts for consideration;

We are all unique in some aspect of ourselves but with the caveat of also carrying with us overlapping commonalities that ultimately serve to unite us as human beings. 

We all feel the pain of grief as someone we know or love passes. We all experience the gift of life at one point or another through having our own children or being close to someone who has a child. 
As parents, we all want to see our child succeed in the world and do our best to equip them in preparation for the hard stoic face that reality can present at times. Some of us are united through a religion. Others through a love of music or sports. 
The complexity of the human experience seems as infinite in its scope as the universe itself and yet this ever changing species can at times pull together to accomplish previously unimaginable feats, such as putting a man on the Moon. 

Ever Changing Human Condition, Looking to the Future:

The condition of humans across the Earth has evolved over the long expanse of time and those of us lucky enough to exist in the modern era, especially in so called “first world countries” such as America have experienced potential and accesses to opportunity that very few in the past had within their grasp. 

We are all individually contributors to a much larger composite that stretches, contorts, and finally settles into the over-arching identity of man-kind. 

No one man determines the definition of man-kind. But could the sustained and collaborative efforts of a vast population of individuals reshape the identity of what humans could potentially do with their time on this Earth? 
This is where that question comes back into play of “How to be a better person”. 
Given the opportunity to change the world for the better, if the larger mass of humans on this planet were contemplating that question with a firm conviction to than act in a manner to pursue the answer with fiery passion, how different could our world be for the better? 
It brings to mind the beautiful thoughts contained in the song “Imagine” by John Lennon.  
“Imagine all the people, living life in peace. You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will be as one.” 
I’m certain that many back when that song was released and even today consider that idea as pure idealism, not fit for a harsh world that too often chews you up and spits you out as you fall precipitously from the clouds and come down hard on the pavement of reality. But I find it rather inspiring. Lennon was looking ahead towards the future and picturing the possibilities of life if humans would interact in a more unified and positive manner towards one another.
The idea of us all coming together as humans, united by a core belief that we have to be better in order to make the world a better place isn’t silly or devoid of possibility. It is firmly within our grasp if we so choose to reach out and assert it as the reality that we desire, with a willingness to pursue such a vision. 
What does it really mean to be a “better human”? Is it measurable? Is it a list of do’s and do not’s? Is it practical, effortless, and simple or do you have to be extraordinarily involved, focused, and diligent in your pursuit? 
So many questions and so little time! Let’s start with the first method in my list of 4 ways to be a better human. 

Working to be Selfless in Order to be a Better Person

In the era of overwhelming connectivity and ease of access, it is easier than ever to be so focused on comparing yourself with the people who you know in some way or another. I listened to a great sermon recently where the pastor discussed how so often our thoughts are trained on social media and comparing others “highlight reels with OUR blooper reels.” 

It’s true as so many post their best versions of themselves and broadcast them to the rest of the world. Behind the curtain those same people they may actually be struggling with issues outside of the purview of friends, and family. 

The truth is we all have our struggles, hurts, and difficulties in life and we’d all be better off if we stopped living a comparative life, and started trying to be more selfless in our approach to the world. 
If we all reached out a helping hand and heart, to try and add something positive into the world around us (without keeping score or doing it with a specific expectation) then I believe the world would be a kinder and accepting place. 
Deep down we all have the desire to be “better” than we are, whether in attempt to be a better spouse, parent, employee, or human in general.  
How often do you reflect on your past? In attending therapy, working to have healthier hobbies/habits and cutting back on a lot of the wasted time in my life, I’ve been looking forward at where I’m trying to arrive later in my life. All the while also looking back in an attempt evaluate my past and analyze the path I’ve been on to get where I am now. 
I think we often are so occupied with the busy-ness of the present day activity in our life that we don’t make the proper amount of time to look back in our own personal history to better understand how different moments in our life were pivotal points that led us down a successful path. 
I believe that if we all work harder to set ourselves aside for a moment a few times a week or month and work to try and be more helpful to the people in need around us it would have tremendous positive effects. Not only would we be helping to meet a need in someone else’s life, but we’d also be helping ourselves by allowing for mental and spiritual growth. 
Because let’s be honest; doesn’t it feel good, to feel good? Giving back to the community, volunteering for your child’s PTA function, whatever that looks like in your own life. 
Take the time to try and exercise your selflessness this week and that is most certainly going to help open the door towards you evolving into a better person. Moving on to step 2 in my list of 4 ways to be a better person! 

Reconnect with the Real World to be a Better Person

Being in a long term relationship is hard if you didn’t already know. You are taking two unique creatures with their own individualistic pursuits and ideals about life, their own rituals to get through each day, and their own idea of cleanliness and throwing them into a long term shared experience to either thrive or decay. 

I don’t think relationships are ever an easy rite of passage as so many of us are unwilling to give up our own outlook on how life should be lived and curve or bend to our partner to allow for a more mutually beneficial experience. 

Even harder, is the fact that we now are not only aware that there are “plenty of fish in the sea” but we have applications designed around promoting and enabling a hook up mentality where you can just grab a date on Tinder based on a mutual attraction confirmed via swipe, and after the short lived experience is over, get back into the application to search for a new match and continue the cycle. 
I’m concerned about these trends in our society as we allow technology to continue further and further down the path of becoming an alienation tool. I mean this in the sense that social media, television, streaming content, etc is all setup so that you can consume and “enjoy” life from a distance. 
You don’t have to go hang out at your best friend’s house, you can just like their post and comment back and forth. Speak on the phone? Why would you do that when you can text? 
So many of the social barriers that used to exist that I believe were positive for growth and learning as an adult, are being removed or bridged over in order to avoid any sort of positive or negative confrontation and allow for users to seamlessly consume whatever their heart desires online without speaking with a single, real life human. 
Is it healthy for our society that we are leaning more and more on advanced tech to navigate the social world? I’d say it is not, at least if we want to be able to pull together as a people and make the world a better place. 
Now can the internet and all the new manner of online social connectivity also serve as a tool of good and be useful to long term goals that are constructive for our species? Yes (but only after I retweet this meme of a cat wearing a batman costume on my fancy, soon to be "old" iPhone X!) 
It is important that in looking to better ourselves as humans in this crazy world that we put in extra time, effort, and hard work reconnecting with the “real world” around us.
Don’t just share a post on Facebook or upvote a post on reddit. If you want to start making some real change in our society, put down the phone and try to go to an actual location where you can make a difference. 
This action goes hand in hand with the first idea of pursuing selflessness as it is combining the execution of an important trait alongside the action of getting out in the world and putting that skillset to use! 
I’ll give you an example from my life and a situation that happened a few years back. A nearby town in my local area was struck by a rather devastating Tornado (Texas being within the boundaries of the so called Tornado Alley is no joke guys). 
As we watched the news and tracked the beast of a storm we were quite concerned. Sharing news on social media, commenting on people’s posts to make sure they were okay as they lived in that area, etc etc. But after the tornado took its toll, and the next day came about, we realized that we wanted to do more and this was a local community in need. But what could we do? 
How could we work to help in such a mess of damage and wreckage that was left after the Tornado ravaged neighborhoods within the town? As dog-owners ourselves, we decided that it might behoove us to go to the town dog shelter and volunteer for a while as our manner of aid. 
There were so many people pouring in to help not just at the shelter but across the town, that authorities were actually turning people away as the outpouring of aid was clogging up the town and making it more difficult for workers to clear the destroyed properties. 
We didn’t do anything insane as we were both pretty broke at that point in time but we wanted to help and the best way for us to do so, was to walk dogs that were either dropped off at the shelter recently or picked up in neighborhoods that were damaged or destroyed by the storm. 
Loving on those dogs and taking them for small walks while their holding areas were cleaned was the best way that we knew how to help at that point in time. 
Was it much? Not at all. But we felt some peace afterwards for doing something to try and share some love within a hurting community. We were pleased with ourselves for breaking out of our shell, not just sharing or liking a post on social media but going out and working towards a tangible act to try and help in a way that we felt we could contribute.  
We all have to be better about working to reconnect with the real world and allow ourselves to at times, take on that servant mentality where we give to others without expectation of praise or reward, but simply to help others who are needing a hand up in life. 
I know that it can be easy to fall back on the excuse of saying, “Well we don’t have time to get involved to that level.” But the truth is we all have the same amount of time in each day to get accomplish what we prioritize. Whether it be prioritizing watching Netflix and chilling, going out to eat, or scrolling through your social media feed until you get tired. 
One tool that my wife and I have been utilizing in order to create more space in our evening schedule to be productive and find windows of time to participate in the real world, has been to leaning more heavily on our Pressure Cooker.
It allows us the ability to quickly get a delicious meal prepped and cooked in a compressed time frame so that we aren’t sacrificing our own physical health by eating junk or fast food, but also aren’t spending our entire evening cooking and cleaning up afterwards. 
I think sometimes in this giant world of online connectivity we make the assumption that someone else will pick up the slack but fail to realize that we are that “someone else” that others in dire need are counting on. 
We have to stop allowing assumptions to take the lead as that means that there are people in need out there who aren’t having their needs met due to the rising inaction of disassociated humans. We have to make it a stronger and more direct priority to reconnect with the real world and find our own unique ways to help out the ones in need. 
Acting selflessly, more often, and taking action to reconnect with the people in need in the real world are two valid steps in your effort to become a better person. What are some of the areas of need in your own local community that you think you could step up to serve and address as a volunteer or individual contributor? Which brings me to the next method in my list of 4 ways to be a better person. 

Aim To Be More Forgiving & Less Defensive to be a Better Person

Picking back up on the idea of relationships, not just romantic ones but friendships, familial relationships, and even our relationships with co-workers, I think it is important to emphasize that we all need to be more forgiving to the ones around us. 

You know how every single one of us grew up going to school and at one time or another experienced or witnessed someone getting bullied? As an adult I often wonder what underlining hurts/pains/realities were behind the scenes in that bully’s life to make them act out in the way that they did. 

The truth is we never know what’s going on in the background of someone else’s life. Whether it is a hard home life, a bad medical report, disagreement or even divorce within a marriage, financial ruin or overwhelming debt. 
So many things can go wrong in a single life and at a rather unexpected and high velocity rate of occurrence. 
So we all have to be better to forgive one another and not only to be more forgiving, but to be less defensive in our approach to life. 
Whenever I was having troubles with finances in my life and my spouse would bring it up, I’d get very defensive, shying away from the conversation and even sometimes resorting to anger in my tone as I’d respond. What did this accomplish? 
For starters, it pushed my wife away and in the same breath, alienated me. It disallowed any possibility that the area that I was struggling in could be addressed because I cut off much needed communication and conditioned my wife to feel as though any time that particular element was brought up, it would lead to confrontation. 
So it became a snowball effect of negative activity and negative consequences. 
While I think that many of us grow up in harsh environments or are brought up with negative associations about certain topics such as personal finance, I’ve continued to find that the more open, honest, and communicative you are with your wife, partner, best friend, or whoever it is in your life that you care about most, the better off you will be as you walk together in life and into whatever the future may hold. 
If we expand that thought past not just our loved ones but out into the real world and try to be more open, truthful, loving, kind, compassionate, and ready to communicate with a heavy emphasis on those positive qualities, then surely we will have more positive interactions with the other humans who have made Earth their home. 
I think sometimes we are so ready to get in an argument over silly, non-impactful areas of discussion that we are closing the door to the possibility of constructive, game changing conversation that could bring us together with people from all walks of life in order to produce a more coherent and well established vision for the direction of humans across the planet. 
The overlap of positive qualities really starts to become evident and gain some steam when you add it all up. If you are looking to be more selfless, trying to reconnect with the real world around you, approaching conversations and relationships with more forgiveness in your heart and a less defensive attitude, how could you not start to morph into a better person? 
It sounds rather easy when I type it all out but the truth is we are in a world of distractions and we live in a world where the individuals in power often contribute to the seeding of discontent, to creating the illusion of one side versus the other. 
If you can shy away from being drawn into the social media fights, the combative comments that derive from that crazy relative that you’re never going to convince anyways, whatever it may look like for your life, and redirect your time and energy into something more fruitful, you will feel the positive effects of that decision over the long term. 
Even when we disagree with others about politics, money, religion, etc. we all need to work to be better people to each other and find a middle ground of commonality to stand on instead of each of us resorting to flee to our own isolated islands of pride and contempt. 
Which brings me to my final point in my list of the 4 ways to be a better person. 

Be Kind and Be Respectful to be a Better Person

I know, I know these varying approaches to being a better person are starting to stack up. But doesn’t it make sense that in order to work to be a better person, you’d need to start acting with more kindness?

If we all started treating others with respect not based on their authority over you or their position in life, but just based on the fact that they are a fellow human who deserves to be treated as such, I think it’s safe to say that the world would be transformed for the better. 

I understand that it isn’t easy but when you start to give out the gift of kindness and respect to those around you that you interact with on a day to day basis, you’d be surprised to see that they may start to reciprocate. 
It isn’t some bizarre magic or math equation that makes this so, it’s simply human nature. When I take the time to talk to someone new in the office and find that they too are a dad, a hard worker, and do the best they can to take care of their family, it’s logical that I start to build up common ground with them and develop a more friendly relationship. 
Even further if I made a gesture of kindness and generosity in order to allow them to feel more welcomed into the new environment, for example offering to buy them lunch in their first week, that is going to establish a strong connection between us that allows for future positive interactions and a continued open channel of mutual respect and kindness. 
If you took the time to try and understand the people around you and get a greater glimpse into their movements through life you might start to better appreciate those who you interact with and treat them with more of the kindness and respect that they deserve simply for existing as a human being. 
I’ve had to work hard to stop looking at relationships in the work place, in church, in my parent circles, or in my friendships as transactional and start appreciating them purely for the interaction and perspective that they can provide. 
Life shouldn’t be transactional! It should be overflowing with kindness, joy, compassion, love, forgiveness, and generosity! If you are only ever looking at an individual relationship and asking what they’ve done for you lately, then you clearly need to reshape your thought process. 
Relationships can be much like a garden in that if you are willing to put in the time and effort to feed and water them, maintaining them throughout the seasons, they can bear fruit. 
But sometimes you have to understand that the process or gardening aspect itself can be the reward as it isn’t always about what fruit or reward you get in the end of it all. 
Not every relational experience and interaction is going to end with a bounty that is reflective of your labor. It just won’t happen. Haven’t you ever had a plant that implemented every trick in the book to maintain, water, and ensure it was properly taken care of, only for it to die? 
This exists within the confines of relationships as well. Some people you will look to pour time, energy, thoughtfulness, compassion, love and so many other positive things and they still will not look to return that sentiment. 
Identify your own allocation of these precious resources and if you see that you are heavily handed in expending them on individuals who are uninterested in returning that love, and positive energy to you, then perhaps that should be evident of a toxic relationship. 
Don’t get confused however, in believing that all relationships should have a, “I did this for you, now you do this for me,” chain of behavior. That is the opposite end of a spectrum and approaching any sort of relationship with that sort of thinking will be bad for you and for the people you are interacting with. 
People are quick to catch on if they believe that you are only ever interacting with them because you “have an angle” or they perceive you as trying to benefit from that interaction somehow. Ensure that you have pure intentions when pursuing a friendship or relationship because motives matter when you are looking to be a better person. 
Being a better person means having good intentions when you are looking to improve a friendship or relationship. If it is only a transaction based friendship where each of you is keeping track of what you’ve done for one another over time, it will falter and fade away and you will continue to see your friends fall back from spending time with you. 
Transactional thinking will only bring you down as those type of relationships are empty and not rooted in attributes that will lead to a long lasting, healthy relationship. Acting in that way surely will not lead you to being a better person. 
It is key to remember too, that you’ll never have a full cup if you are relying on someone else to fill it. 
It’s your responsibility to fill your own cup (be happy) and then to do what you can to help others achieve that same level of fullness, not because you will get something out of that interaction, but because it’s the right thing to do! 
Adding on to this idea, you must take the time to consider the people that you are working to impress, befriend, and build long term relationships with. Are these people going to help you in your path to being a better person or are they going to hinder you? 
Consider the type of person that you want to attract into your life and then go out there and work to build up those relationships as they will be immensely influential in the trajectory of your own direction. Have you heard of the idea that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with? Consider that thought and do the math! 
Would you be happy to be the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with or would you feel as though you are only scratching the surface of your potential? I love the book, “How To Win Friends & Influence People” as it walks you through the pursuit of being your best you, and how to actually achieve it. 
It has helped guide some of the most successful people both in a business and in their personal lives and is must read material if you’ve been searching for a text that will give you that concrete foundation to establishing a new, better, stronger, and more successful you.
Listen Carefully, Speak When You Have Something to Say
In line with that thought, this is why it is also so key for you to listen intently to those around you especially if they’ve come to you with a struggle or pain that they are dealing with. Consider your interactions with your friends, family, or significant others and evaluate how the conversation goes. 
Do you find yourself venting for 90% of the talk and then listening very little to the hurts, hardships, or weekly struggles that they are facing? I’ve had many a friend who would listen for a moment, pause without response, and then redirect the conversation back to whatever topic they were solely focused on. 
Don’t be that friend! Listen with your full attention so that the people in your life know that they can bounce things off of you with the expectation that you’ll provide a REAL response. How many times have you see people sharing kind sentiments on your social media post but then fail to see any of those people materialize in real life when you face an actual struggle? 
This underlines again why it is so important to get out in the real world and develop actual offline relationships!
Being a better person means listening well, talking when you have something to say, and being available when the people in your life that you love are in need. It’s never easy and you will be hard pressed to find others who are willing to commit their time, ears, and heart ALL the time when you are in need yourself. 
But by taking that step of reaching out of your comfort zone, being kind, being respectful, listening with intention and love, and speaking up when you have something on your heart, I believe you will transform into a better person. 
Living a purposeful life where you are introspective, question yourself about your own behaviors in friendships and relationships, and look towards the future in asking yourself how you will be a better person, a better human, is undeniably important to society as a whole. 
But on a smaller scale it’s wildly important for your local circle of friends, family, and loved ones. That self-reflection will allow for you to grow and become a better version of you, which is exactly the point of this entire blog. 
By working to be more selfless in your behavior, reconnecting with the real world, trying to be more forgiving and less defensive, interacting with kindness and respect, and listening more to the people in your life while better guarding your words and speaking with intention, you will most assuredly become a better human being.

I hope this write-up of the 4 ways to be a better person has been helpful for you and given you some practical things to implement as well as my personal insight into my own life in trying to utilize these methods. If you enjoy reading at Likelyfiction, please share my site with your friends, family, or enemies (just kidding guys), comment on the post to continue the discussion with me online, or subscribe to receive the latest posts as I release them!

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