No matter what it is we do for a living, most of us seek new ways to improve our skills, because we hope that improving professionally will lead us to a greater return. But what about our human being skills? Often our lives are too busy to even consider that if we make small adjustments in how we view and respond to the world, we could be sending out a more positive energy, an effort that will come back to us tenfold. Below are three simple suggestions on how building a better each of us will help build a better world.
1) Instead of making resolutions, let this year be a year of “gratitutions.” Gratitutions are statements of gratitude made along with any criticisms you have of yourself or changes you wish to make. So, instead of saying, “This year I have to run that 10K” a gratitution would be, “I’m thankful my legs work well and I’m able to contemplate running.” Instead of, “I must get all the rooms in this house painted, “a gratitution would be, “I’m thankful that I have a home of my own.” This doesn’t mean you won’t run that race or paint those walls. A gratitution doesn’t keep you stuck in one place; it frees you up to help you appreciate where you are as you continue to go forward.
2) Keep your ears open and your mouth closed when people disagree with you. We all have the tendency to get defensive when our opinions and beliefs are not validated by others. But instead of lashing out with angry comments or sarcastic comebacks, (one of the reasons many of us cringed as we read our Facebook feeds this past November) why not ask the person who disagrees with you, “What makes you feel that way?” And then genuinely listen to the answer. Most people have passionate beliefs because they’ve either researched the topic thoroughly or they’ve got a blind spot due to misinformation. So think of this: if they’ve researched a topic much more than you have, doesn’t it add to your knowledge base to hear what they’ve learned and what conclusions they’ve drawn as a result? You don’t have to agree, but the simple act of listening is a free education on the subject. Conversely, keep in mind that because people are unable to listen to new ideas unless psychologically ready, arguing with them will only pull them away and close a door, but a listening attitude can do wonders to open a mind.
3) Do one good thing for someone who cannot help you in return. In many industries, there’s much talk about social networking and building relationships to improve our chances for “getting ahead.” The principle is simple: reach out to someone in a position of success and do something for that person that he or she will appreciate, so that when the time comes when those people can help you in some way, they will remember you. Though not always successful, this is a fair-minded and in some ways, organic way to grow your network and your reputation. But what about those who are no position to do anything for you ─ why help any of those people? Believe it or not, there is a return and it’s a very valuable one. It’s the knowledge that you were able to do something that’s made a difference to someone else. In the world we live in today, it’s easier for the average person to get a hold of a weapon than for them to get a hold of a kindness. An unexpected kindness bestowed with no thought of any reward for doing so can be more powerful and have more of a pay-it-forward effect than anything else you might accomplish.
Now it’s your turn: what suggestions might you have for self-improvements that might not only help you, but help all of us? And what gratitutions can you come up with? Feel free to leave them in the comments. And by the way, happy 2013.
Patricia V Davis is the author of “The Diva Doctrine: 16 Universal Principles Every Woman Needs to Know” and “Harlot’s Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss, and Greece,” and the founder of The Women’s PowerStrategy™ Conference. Lydia Selk is the senior photographer for HS Radio e-magazine