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28 Simple Habits to Become a Better Person

25 simple habits to become a better person - Good, kind, successful people do certain things every day. These 28 tips will help with motivation and leadership. Become more like Jesus Christ every day.

There is a line from a movie that goes something like, “You make me want to be a better man.” I think Jack Nicholson says it to Helen Hunt in the movie As Good As It Gets. {If you haven’t seen it, check it out on Amazon because it is tremendous (I think both Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt won Academy Awards for their performances, but I’m not 100% sure.) I could gush about that movie for an hour because I’ve seen it approximately 87 times, but I’ll save my breath and just tell you to go watch it for yourself.}

You make me want to be a better man (or woman). Who doesn’t want to hear that, really? 

But the fact is that we don’t need to wait for someone special to come along to become better men and women. We can start now, today, by just changing one little thing in our lives, one little habit.

Choose anything from the list below, and do that thing for a week or two or three, until it is a habit totally ingrained in you.

Then come back and look at the list again and choose another little thing.

That’s the way change is, right? You make one minute change, stick with it until it becomes part of you, and then you make another one. It’s the only way anything ever happens.

I can totally vouch for this method as it is how I began my exercise routine. I started by walking the length of my neighbor’s freshly paved driveway. I did it just once the first time, up and back, a couple of days after my bariatric surgery. I think I did that two or three days in a row. Then I walked the length of the driveway twice, up and back and up and back. I did that for a couple of days. Then I increased it to three times. By the end of that first month, the kids and I were walking to the stop sign at the end of our block, and then after a week or so of that, we went as far as the second stop sign at the end of our street. Then after that, we went a little further.

Before I knew it, I was walking two miles a day.

Now, most days, I walk between five and six miles a day.

There is absolutely positively no way I could have walked six miles in one day when I first started, and there is absolutely positively no way you can look at the list below and successfully do ten of them all at once. You may accomplish it one time (but probably not), and you’ll never do it again because you’ll be sore and burned out before you really even get started.

The only way to make any progress in personal habits is to do it like I started walking: a few tiny steps at a time.

28 Simple Habits to Become a Better Person

    1. I’m starting with this one because it’s the one I feel most passionately about. Put your phone down and look at the person you’re with. Remember back in the day when no one had a cell phone? We actually looked each other in the eye when we talked, and sometimes we even stared off into space without something to distract us. Try it. It’s uncomfortable, but you’ll get the hang of it before you know it.
    2. Call an old friend. It’s nice to be remembered, and no one ever picks up the phone anymore. I have Old Grandma on my list of phone favorites, and that reminds me to call her once a week or so. She is one of my favorite people, and I cherish the times I get to hear her voice.
    3. Text an old friend. It’s nicest to be remembered with a phone call, but if a text is all you can manage, go for it. I once texted my childhood best friend, and she thought it was some weird “forward this to everyone you know” kind of things so she ignored it. I ended up calling her some time later and explained that it had been a genuine “I’m thinking about you and hope you’re well” message that I crafted all by myself. So it really all comes back to the phone call I mentioned in #2. But like I said, if you can’t manage a phone call, a text is better than nothing.
    4. Smile at a stranger. Everyone is fighting a battle you can’t see, and kindness costs you absolutely nothing. Smile a real, honest and true smile at people on the street.
    5. Say please and thank you and mean it. One of Grace’s first words was thank you because she heard us say it about seventy thousand  times a day. We say thank you to each other, we say thank you to the clerk at the grocery store, we say thank you to people who have not helped us in any way. Some people are over-apologizers, we are over-thank-ers, I guess. But it is a great habit to have, to appreciate people and their contributions to the world.
    6. Quit comparing. I have heard all kinds of quotes about comparisons:

      Comparison is the thief of joy. -Theodore Roosevelt

      Social media is training us to compare our lives, instead of appreciating everything we are. No wonder why everyone is always depressed. -Bill Murray

      Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. -Jon Acuff

      Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it’s stupid. -Albert Einstein

      The bottom line is that comparing yourself to others hurts both you and them, but mostly you. When you compare, you always come out either ahead or behind. If you come out ahead, you get cocky and smug. If you come out behind, you beat yourself up. Neither way is helpful. Just quit the comparison game and look at where you were before and how far you’ve grown.

    7. Think before you speak and act. Does this one need explanation?
    8. Spread positivity instead of complaints. Surely you’ve heard the old saying that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar? It’s an old saying because there’s truth in it. Everyone loves sweet speech, and no one likes to listen to people complaining or whining. I tend to tune that crap out, and I venture to guess that a lot of other people do, too. So improve the silence and focus on positivity.
    9. Exercise. You don’t have to walk six miles a day, but do something every day to move your body and make your heart and lungs work hard. It’s a great stress reliever and powerful antidepressant, among other benefits. You will have more energy and sleep better afterward, too.
    10. Get out in the world and have a good time. Smiles and laughs are contagious, so get out of your shell and enjoy do something you really like. Smile the whole time and laugh about whatever tickles you. Repeat at least once a week.
    11. Be truly happy for other people. When a friend comes to you with a great success, do you celebrate with her or secretly covet her good fortune? Envy is really a failure of the spirit to be grateful and content for what you already have. In the Bible, the 23rd Psalm begins, “The Lord is my shepherd. I have everything I need.” and that is true, is it not? It would be quite unusual in our wealthy culture for anyone to go without the things she truly needs. So buck up, buttercup. Enjoy your friend’s success without wishing it was yours.
    12. Feel your feelings. I have been in weekly therapy for most of the last 7 years. Yes, seven years. I expect, because of my diagnosis, that I’ll probably be in some sort of therapy for the rest of my life actually, and I’m okay with that. The biggest thing I’ve learned from my therapist is that I need to feel my feelings. I need to not stuff them down and invalidate them. I need to not eat them. I need to not spend money to soothe them. There is a long list of things I shouldn’t do to assuage my feelings, and a pretty short list of things I should do: Experience them. Cry. Be in the moment. Laugh.
      My therapist also says, “The only way through this is through it.” and while that made no sense to me in the beginning, it makes total sense now. The only way to get over anything, especially hard things, is to feel the feelings and process the emotions from within them. You can’t push or explain them away and expect to “get over it.”
    13. Trust God. I have a controlling personality. I like to know what to expect, and I like things to work out the way I planned. This is something I’m butting heads with in my work in Overeaters Anonymous. I don’t trust God to work on my behalf; I feel like I have to take charge and make things happen. When you trust, you pray more and listen more and don’t try to force everything to happen on your own time.
    14. Know that every experience is part of the bigger picture. Everything works out in the end, and if everything hasn’t worked out, it’s not the end yet. (This was one in the post I shared recently called 101 life lessons I want to teach my daughters.) Nowhere is this as evident as in the Bible book of Genesis where Joseph’s brothers try to kill him and eventually sell him into slavery. He works as a slave until his owner’s wife tries to seduce him, and then she has him sent to prison when he rebuffs her. He stays in prison for years before being selected to interpret the Pharaoh’s curious dreams. Then suddenly, he is the second in command of the nation of Egypt where he single-handedly saves his entire family as well as the whole nation of Egypt and many surrounding lands. God works in mysterious ways, and He can never be rushed. Joseph may have thought along the way that he was doomed, and that things would never look up for him (although I don’t think he did because he was very devoted to God and always believed that God would bless him), but in the end, it all worked out perfectly for him.
    15. Ask for help. I am independent. I detest needing help from anyone (except my husband) anytime. I hate being reliant on others. I like to be self-sufficient, and I like to not depend on other people. It’s just the way I am (and something my therapist is working with me about).  There have been times in my life when I couldn’t avoid asking for help, though, like when I was in the hospital and a dear friend took care of my kids almost every day for six weeks. My sister now watches the girls an evening every other week so that Joe and I can go to therapy together. She also takes my girls to homeschool field trips while I work. Numerous friends cooked us meals when my mother died. These are all very good things, and I know that God will bless all these women for helping me in my need. 
    16. Learn something new. I love learning. I love it so much that I kind of get over my hobbies after a few months because they’ve become old and I no longer need to learn anything to do them. I was really into crocheting until I could do an afghan in my sleep. (I’m thinking about changing up to a new pattern which will introduce some novelty into my crochet habit.) I was really into Bible journaling until I had amassed all the tools I could ever use and then some. I have dabbled in photography, but once I had the basics down, it lost its luster. I love to read and learn, so coming up with newer and better always appeals to me.
    17. Follow through. The other side of my learning coin is that I rarely follow through with things. This is my husband’s biggest pet peeve about me. We have a very large box of yarn in our bedroom from my first foray into crocheting three or four years ago. I keep promising to use it up – and I totally intend to – but my attention soon wanes and I forget to get back to it. Following through with projects and following up on your commitments makes you responsible and dependable and a person of integrity. I aspire to all this.
    18. Hug more. Hugs are magical; they inspire feelings of attachment, connection, trust, and intimacy among adults as well as children. Hugs lower heart rate, blood pressure, and levels of stress hormones in the body. (Reference: Psychology Today
    19. Drive nice. Let people merge, even if they sped up and didn’t wait in line. Take turns. Don’t speed up if someone tries to pass you. Drive the way you would drive if there was a police officer behind you.
    20. Use nice manners. Hold open the door. Say excuse me when you burp. Write thank you notes. Chew with your mouth closed. Don’t interrupt. Use your indoor voice indoors. Look people in the eye when you speak to them. 
    21. Be on time. There is nothing that drives me crazy more than people who are always late. I think being late is disrespectful and shows the person who’s waiting for you that their time is not as important as your time. My mom was always at least 15 minutes late for everything she ever did, usually a lot more. I remember having to sit in the principal’s office after morning kindergarten every day because she never came on time to pick me up. Later, I sat and waited for her for hours after school activities. She left me sitting and waiting all the time, so I had lots of time to think about how rude it was to not be on time.
    22. Compliment people. Hugs are magic, but compliments are not far behind. There is an old saying in psychology that behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated. Common sense, right? Scientific studies have shown that compliments are extremely motivating and improve performance in every situation. (References: Forbes & Psych Central & Psychology Today
    23. Begin each day with prayer. You don’t have to spend an hour in prayer, but I think my days go better and I am a kinder, gentler, better human being when I start my day by greeting my God.
    24. Be more generous, especially with your time and knowledge. You have to make choices where your time is concerned, certainly, but when you are cheerfully generous with your time and knowledge, you spread goodness in the world. God gave you all this knowledge and all these experiences to help others, so make them count by sharing what you’ve learned.
    25. Refrain from judging everything and everyone around you. I grew up with a mother who criticized everything, all the time, and it has been difficult for me to break that habit. My default is to think about what is wrong with people and situations, but I pray every morning that God will give me the ability to see things through His eyes, celebrating the good in people instead of seeing what’s wrong with them.
    26. Clean up after yourself. Whether your mess is literal or figurative, clean up your own messes. Sometimes this means getting a paper towel and wiping up a spill, but more often, it means swallowing your pride and making an apology. But always set things right.
    27. Forgive freely. Accept apologies without feeling the need to say, “It’s okay,” especially when it isn’t okay. But don’t allow 
    28. Donate. Whether you donate stuff or time or money, you certainly have excess of something that you can share with someone who needs it. Check out my post on random acts of kindness for kids and adults for some help in this area.
    29. Practice gratitude. Brené Brown says that people who are joyful practice gratitude daily, so I am all in. Whether you set up a grateful jar (full honesty – ours fizzled out), write in a gratitude journal, pray a gratitude prayer, or do something all together different, it is important to remember your blessings and record them somehow for future reference when you’re feeling low.

No matter what you do to become a better person, the important thing is that you start doing it today. The Bible says we should work to become more like Jesus, and doing any of the above will help you to move toward that goal. Don’t wait until tomorrow to get started.

25 simple habits to become a better person - Good, kind, successful people do certain things every day. These 28 tips will help with motivation and leadership. Become more like Jesus Christ every day.

© 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

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