7 Ways To Be A Better Person In 2014

Photo courtesy of Handolio

Photo courtesy of Handolio

1. Constantly Improve Yourself.
Wanting to change yourself for the better is an excellent way to build self love and confidence. If you don’t do it for yourself, who will?

What I’ve Learned

Without both self-reflection and self-awareness there is no path to personal development.   Most of us take such little time for self-reflection and our busy lives destroy our self-awareness. We must first know what our strengths and weaknesses are, what we value and what our habits are before we can attempt any personal growth. Improving yourself is as much about self-awareness as it is about self-reflection. I believe you cannot have one without the other.   For years I attempted to take night classes, missing class often and eventually dropping out. After some serious reflection I realized I had no self-awareness as to how I learned best. I am an early riser and do my best learning in the morning and afternoon. The evenings are usually unproductive for any type of work or learning for me. Understanding how I learned changed everything for me. Now, I get up at 5AM to work on my writing, my business and my creative activates. Self-reflection and self-awareness made all the difference for my path to improvement.

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A Few Of My Fav Lake Champlain Chocolates

2. Stop Lying To Yourself
Telling yourself the truth is liberating experience.   If you can truly be honest with yourself even if you don’t want to share that truth with anyone else, knowing it and living it —now that’s freedom.

What I’ve learned.
We tell ourselves little lies every day.   These lies compile over the course of days, months and years, keeping us from achieving the things that important to us.   How often do you tell yourself you don’t have time to workout, see friends or take some alone time? There is time; the truth is you don’t choose to spend it on things that will impact your life a year from now or five years from now. Not working out will definitely impact your life a year from now. Not making time for friends may result in no friends come next year.   Not surfing the web, checking facebook or twitter- well that one is obvious, you'll have more time for friends and family . I have learned that lying to oneself is also about changing behavior as well as understanding yourself. I have a bad habit of eating junk food often. Cookies. Chocolate. Chips. I call them my 3C's. They are my indulgence and yes, I have lied to myself and have lied to my trainer in the past about not eating the 3C's. I don’t eat as much as some might, but I do have dark chocolate in some form daily. The reality is, I enjoy dark chocolate and love chocolate chip cookies with a passion I can only admit to a few.   Once I stopped lying and telling myself I had to stop, I felt free. I was no longer negotiating or compromising with myself in order to justify eating the cookie I really wanted to eat. At the same time, I no longer bring cookies into my home as often as I used to. I keep healthier options lying around. An apple sitting in the kitchen is an easier conscious choice and also reminder to try to eat better. The apple has nothing to do with the    Lake Champlain    chocolate sitting at my desk because   I am certain dark chocolate makes me a better person.

3. Stop Comparing Yourself To Those Around You

Comparing yourself to others is a surefire way to be unhappy.   Constant comparison can lead to unrealistic or negative self-image.

What I’ve Learned.
We are all different and that means things happen to us at different times.   The best advice my mother gave me was, “Everything happens in its own time. It will happen for you when it’s meant to happen.” This is a loose translation from the Indian proverb she often quotes. I usually follow this advice but the times when I have strayed and judged myself for not being where I needed to be because my friends or colleagues were already there, I have been miserable.   I have learned that comparing myself to those around me is an inaccurate measuring stick. I also know what we use to measure success is the problem itself. If success is money, fame or power and not time spent or moments shared then obviously most of us are going to be unhappy. If we focus on what’s really important, it’s almost impossible to judge ourselves by unrealistic standards our culture has set. If we are free from judging ourselves, it's unlikely we'll judge others as well and that is a good thing no matter how you slice it.

Photo courtesy of Vinni 123

Photo courtesy of Vinni 123

4. Forgive- Even When It’s Hard To Forget
Forgiveness is no easy task. Having compassion and love for those who have wronged us can seem impossible. Forgiving them makes you better because you are no longer filled with anger, resentment or grievances. Negative emotions weigh us down and keep us from our higher self.

What I’ve Learned
Forgiving someone means letting go of negative destructive feelings you have towards them and moving to a positive place that does not put them in focus in anyway.   If you hold on to grievances or resentments toward anyone that has harmed you, you are hurting yourself.   It is highly unlikely the person who has hurt you is not giving you the same mindshare and you are causing more pain to yourself by focusing on them.   I recently had a discussion with family members about bad parenting and all the things this particular parent has done wrong and was still doing wrong. I can’t say I was astonished by the level of anger my family members expressed.   However, I did see something they were obviously missing.   They were holding onto so much pain and resentment that they couldn't see what it was costing them. They allowed negative feelings to crowd any positive feelings. I tried my best to open a conversation about compassion but it seemed no one was ready. I have forgiven many people in my life; I have been hurt in many ways as I’m sure you have. I can’t say I always forget what someone has done but I always try and forgive. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but letting go allows the pain not to hold any power. It allows peace to enter and if you can find some peace, you can bring peace to those around you.

5. Be Punctual
Being punctual is a sign of respect and love. How you give your time is as important as who you give it to.

What I’ve Learned.
All of us have been late for something some time in our lives. Being late is okay if it doesn't happen all the time. Chronic lateness, now that is another problem altogether. When you are late all the time, people start to assume  all kinds of things about you. It’s not uncommon for friends to dislike making  plans with you if they have to wait around for you every time you get together.  Dr. Keith Ablow  suggests there may be a few different reasons some of us are always late. He suggests that there may be some issues that have not really been addressed in your life if you are the one that is always late. Perhaps, you really don’t want to meet with particular friends. He also suggests that chronic lateness can also be a person pulling rank. If she is busier than you then the assumption is that her time is more valuable than yours…so, obviously you’ll understand because she is so busy. Right? Um…No. Having high expectations of your friends and family is a good thing because all of us deserve to be treated the best way possible by those we love and cherish. Being on time is just better person 101.

Photo courtesy of Horia Varlan

Photo courtesy of Horia Varlan

6. Don’t Say ‘Yes’ When You Meant ‘No’
Saying 'no ' doesn't mean you don’t care or love the people around. It simply means you’re being choosy with your time. Meeting friends or family what it’s convenient for both parties makes you a better person because you want to be there.

What I’ve Learned.
Saying 'yes' at the expense of your time, energy or desire is not a good thing.   We often would prefer to be agreeable and accommodating rather than create conflict by saying ‘no.’   There are times when I have agreed to be somewhere out of obligation or guilt, or help someone when I didn't have the bandwidth or time. As you can imagine those particular times were not pleasurable. I believe women have a much tougher time saying no to 'helping' or 'being there' for people than men do. I struggle with saying no. I have guilty conscious when I can't be there for people I love. I have become much better at letting go of the guilt of not being available. I have learned in order to be successful in life and love,   I need to focus on being a little selfish.

7. Let Go Of Friendships That No Longer Serve You
Friendships are very special; they should nourish your spirit and lift you higher.   If a friendship is causing you more stress than joy, it may be time for you to let go of that friend.

What I’ve Learned.
We’re taught from a very young age that friendships are forever. We believe we must be there for the bad times. We try hard to hold onto to relationships that don’t serve us anymore because we believe we must “roll with the punches.”   The problem with ‘rolling with the punches’ is that eventually you’ll get knocked down. If your friendships aren't making your life better in some way they are not worth having. Sometimes we get so used to being treated badly; we forget what being treated good feels like. We forget our ‘friends’ should rejoice in our successes and be there for us during     hardships. It’s so easy to forget what friendship means in the age of social media when just about anyone can be called a friend. There is no work or emotional investment involved with those who simply like your status updates. Friendships take care, one-on-one interactions and spiritual and emotional connection. Having them should elevate your life in some way. I have held on to stale friendships because I wanted to make it work. Breaking up with anyone is hard. There’s history, love, mutual friends etc. But purging bad friends who are detractors and not cheerleaders may be the best thing you do in 2014.