While I wrote an article about New Year's resolution last week, it was, admittedly, a little haphazard and hurried. That being said, I’d like to expound on one of my final resolutions from the last article (Random Acts of Kindness) and send some good vibes into the Internet either by laying out what I believe could be a good strategy for bettering oneself in 2016. Namely, I’d like to discuss how one might make some other-oriented resolutions aimed at kindness.
Help Others, Help Yourself
I think a lot of people are looking critically at themselves in this new year, and I think that’s a great place to start. Obviously, one can’t treat others quite well if they aren’t looking to treat themselves well. I’m sure you’ve already made plans for how you’re going to improve yourself in 2016. I know I have: get good rest, focus on my creative endeavors, make sure I treat my body and mind well. Yet, I think that you can often treat yourself well and maybe even better by focusing on treating others well. That is, by having an exterior focus, one often finds that she has a lot less time to worry, and she finds her troubles minimize in comparison to the good she can do for others. When one focuses their love and devotion outward, one also finds that she receives more love and devotion from those around her. Now, I'm not saying you should simply help others because it will benefit you, but I am saying that the universe usually smiles on those who smile on others. So it's time to get smiling!
Be a Good Listener
I think one of the most powerful ways you can show someone you truly care is by listening. Make time for the people you care about even when, and probably especially because, you're busy. And when you’re with them, put down your cell phone, make good eye contact, and make sure to acknowledge what they’re saying. Make them feel heard and understood (even if you disagree). And what’s more, don’t be afraid to listen or talk to new people. I'm sure there are people in your life that you have passed by and really wanted to know them better. Reach out to them!
They've probably wondered about you, too. Make friends, especially with those working behind a counter. It takes maybe 30 extra seconds to make someone working feel like they’re not just a faceless machine in a store. Chat and ask about their weekend. Ask "how are you" and actually wait for an answer. I often think about my experience lifeguarding and how often people were unfriendly or just completely ignored me. If those same people had smiled at me and sincerely wondered what was going on in my life, I would have had a much better experience.
Ditch the Judgement
Criticism of others usually stems from criticism of the self. I’m speaking from deep, personal experience here. I think one of the beauties of having a POSITIVE other-oriented attitude is that when you start giving other people slack and try to see them in a warmer, brighter light, you’ll probably start to do the same for yourself and start to love yourself more. Besides, you don’t know what other people are really going through, so when you start to judge, it’s important to step back and realize that maybe it’s your own ego talking and not the actions, beliefs, or looks of the person in front of you.
Encourage! Encourage! Encourage!
On the opposite to "don't criticize," it's also importantly to actively support others. Let others know that their ideas, hopes, and dreams are worthwhile. It's so easy to become discouraged in college, especially when everyone's in such close proximity and surrounded by comparison. I guess what I'm trying to say is simple and kind of the thesis of this whole article: be kind. Show love to others by being gentle with and uplifting to them. Let them know that they can and should act on their wildest, most impossible seeming dreams. Be the lift to their sails rather than the last breath of the shattering storm.
I hope these thoughts help you be the good in 2016! Wishing much love, joy, and health to you all!