We often talk about being a better person, but what does that mean? To me, it’s about behaving in a way that promotes harmony and contentment because if my relationships are harmonious, then my life is far more enjoyable.
So how do we become better people? The first step is to recognise your strengths and weaknesses. I once asked someone I knew to name his weaknesses, but he wasn’t able to – sadly, I wasn’t sure whether he was egotistical or ignorant.
If you’re unsure of your strengths and weaknesses, ask a few friends you trust to be honest with you – I’m sure they will be more than happy to tell you! If you do go this route though, remember not to be defensive – people’s opinions only reflect their perception of you, so use their feedback as a starting point.
Your next step is to be willing to make changes to your attitude and actions. I have a friend who has many good qualities, but has also been known to be arrogant and at times, has had an acerbic tongue. I’ve seen him consciously decide to make a positive change and it’s been a delight to experience.
One of my weaknesses is my intolerance of inconsiderate people, especially pedestrians and drivers. I‘ve made a pact with myself to be more tolerant because when I’m intolerant, the emotions that I feel also harm me. These days, I find ways to accept the situation and/or see the humour in it. So, for example, when I’m driving and a pedestrian crosses the road without taking their safety into consideration, I can either choose to accept the situation knowing that I, too, have made the same mistake, or I can think about the possible damage that person could make to my car (said with my tongue firmly in my cheek!)
Integrity is also fundamental to being a good person, but there are times when one needs to be wise and skirt around the point rather than be too honest. Like when my ex-wife asked me, “Does this dress look good on me?” Saying “no” would have made my life miserable, but saying “yes” would have been a lie. The wise answer was: “You look great!”
As I’ve stressed before, speak your mind but say it with your heart. There are ways of saying things to get your point across without attacking someone verbally; don’t say something that will hurt someone permanently while you are temporarily upset – this applies especially to people you love. I abhor that I’ve behaved this way in the past, but I’m happy to say that it has been many, many years since I’ve said hurtful things to my loved ones.
As we approach the festive season, engage with loved ones with tolerance and respect and work on improving your relationships – if that’s not possible, just avoid making them worse. We so often take our family and friends for granted, when the harsh reality is that one day we will lose them – or they will lose us. Life is fleeting and unpredictable, so cherish the time you have with your family and friends and revel in the joy of the festive season – and every other season.
On behalf of all of us at Elixr, thank you for being part of a community that I love and appreciate. Have a wonderful Xmas and New Year and be wise and safe.