5 Rules To Help You Treat People Better

5 Rules To Help You Treat People Better

Hurting people is less common when I live by these rules
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Once upon a time, when I wore a plaid skirt, knee-high white socks, and a white polo every day to my all-girl Catholic high school, I read the book "Where'd Ya Go, Bernadette?" by Maria Semple for extra credit. Even though I was a dedicated student, I needed those extra points.

The book is about an eccentric mother named Bernadette, but her story is told from second-hand sources (from her daughter and her neighbors). It is a wonderfully creative book. If you like reading about families going through a transformation process, this is a book you might like.

A section of the book was about one of the characters' rules for herself to live a happier life. I couldn't tear my eyes away from that section of the book. I was startled by how intelligent and rational the rules were.

The rules were so worthy of a "Duh, this makes sense, treat people this way instead of that way" that I decided to live by them.

I saw a positive difference in how I talked to my classmates for the couple of weeks I lived by those rules. But unfortunately, I lost my drive to be intentional and the rules faded into the dusty areas of my soul... until a recent mistake helped me remember the grandeur of having rules like these. It's never too late to try again, and today is that day for me.

I cannot remember any of the book's rules except one (which is the first rule below). My point in bringing up "Where'd Ya Go, Bernadette?" is it helped me realize something important. Reflecting on common pitfalls I make in relationships and creating rules to avoid them is a wonderful practice. These rules help me avoid opportunities for my common mistakes to become problems. All I do is read the rules each morning to remind me of their simple brilliance.

These rules also encourage me to be intentional with my relationships. Without intentionality, I fall into my old habits easier. My old habits of treating people... not always good. Below are my rules on how to treat people better. Please check it out.

1. Don't assume anything.

The word "assume" (pardon my language, children - look away) has the word ASS in it. Assuming stuff about people makes an ass out of me. I try to avoid it by asking a bunch of clarifying question to people, but I still fall into this trap every once in a while. I ask questions so I understand what is actually going on. So if I'm ever annoying you with all my questions, I have a reason for it.

2. Experience is experience, and it shapes people's lives.

It is great to share stories, but your audience won't get the experience like you did since they were not there. However, if you are a good story-teller, you can help people get close to experiencing what you did in that moment.

For example, I could give a good explanation of one of the sunsets I saw in Jamaica, but my words won't help you experience the actual warmth of the sun on my skin during that moment. I could gush about the electricity the approaching rain clouds brought to the air, but you won't hear the snap of twigs in the forest around me.

I could accurately describe the sunset's pink glow, but you didn't stand on that hilltop surrounded by friends (and smelly ferns) like I did. I wish you had. At least now, you can kind of imagine what that was like for me.

This rule is about more than story-telling. It's about accepting there are things I will never understand about someone else. I can imagine and empathize, but I was not attacked by bullies like you were. I was not in that canoe when it flipped over, and I didn't get that hypothermia and almost die afterward –– you experienced all of that.

I didn't land a perfect backflip that helped me win that gymnastics meet - you did. This rule helps me remember that someone's experiences have positively and/or negatively shaped someone's life, and I need to remember his/her experiences to know where that person is coming from. And they need to know mine. Therefore, sharing is caring. Keep sharing.

3. You can't change people.

I fall into this trap a lot.

I just want to use my critical thinking skills and persuasion techniques to convince friends and family I AM RIGHT when I am passionate about something (like homemade vanilla ice-cream being the best, Made in America items being more ethical than Chinese products, poetry being fun to read), but forcing your opinion on someone is SO NOT COOL.

Notice how I chose the words "passionate about something" instead of "right about something" up above. I'm not always right about stuff (lol).

You have an undeniable right to have your own opinions. I also hope we can agree it is your honor to be a part of someone's life, no matter how different the two of you are. Don't ruin the relationship by shutting down or ridiculing his/her opinions. Doing that closes yourself off from a relationship that challenges you to think differently (and maybe more critically) about your opinions.

One of my male buddies says a non-negotiable for a girl he will date is that they both have to like the same political party. It is great that he knows what is important for him to have in a romantic relationship, but he could be closing himself off to a wonderful relationship with a girl who doesn't like the same political party as him.

Also, what do I know about how deeply he cares about politics? It's his choice what he thinks is non-negotiable. But my suggestion to remain open-minded is food for thought.

4. Don't brag about your relationship status, whatever it is.

People might not even care if you're dating, single, or married.

You might be happy, but rubbing that in someone's face is inconsiderate. Consider this. You know your guy friend has been eating pints of cookie dough ice-cream for days after his breakup with his high school sweetheart.

I'm assuming you care about his feelings of pain and loneliness when I ask the following question: Why are you talking for more than an hour about how loved you feel in your new relationship right now? Not cool.

Here are my ideas on this rule. If someone asks about your love life, share it. If someone asks for more details, share some (if you want to). Until then, I suggest being humble and discreet.

5. Listen to hear, not to respond.

*standing ovation for this one*

Listening to respond is bad news bears. Listening to respond means you don't care about what is being discussed. It means your mind is intentionally on what you had for lunch, your English homework, or your fun park date. You might even be planning how you are going to bring that up next in the conversation instead of listening attentively.

While you were thinking of all the things you were going to say, you missed what the other person was saying. Stay focused in conversation. Give them your full attention or none at all.

When I don't follow these rules, I hurt people. These rules have helped me identify the mistakes I make on repeat and how to avoid them. I like these rules because they help me love others better.

But Here is the Kicker

The only way to love others authentically is by believing in God and letting Him transform your heart to be more like His. God is the only one who shows us the truth about love, because, let's face it, the world likes to change its mind about love every day. I cannot be joyful, forgiving, or compassionate if I forget to love God, the Author of Love. Therefore, before each day starts, I apply my personal rule, which is the following:

I thank God for giving me the opportunity to succeed and/or fail at loving others. This opportunity is the day itself. The opportunity to live another day is not a given. I think we would be kind more intentionally if we remembered this could be our last day to do so.

How could you apply these rules to your life? What rules could help you interact with others better? Consider these questions because we all need a little help being kind people, and these rules are helpful.

Cover Image Credit: Helena Lopes

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Why Nursing School Friends Are So Vital

Pun intended.

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When I started nursing school, I knew it would be difficult. I wasn't naive. I heard the stories. I knew what I was getting into…to a certain degree.

It was everything I thought it would be and more. The highs were higher and the lows were lower. The thing you realize quickly in nursing is that it's not something you can achieve on your own. You have to have a support system. It's how you survive. It can feel like you're on your own because you have to perform the skills and make the grades, but really, there are so many friends standing behind you pushing you through.

I've seen it over and over again. I've been a part of it, witnessed it and had help myself. The truth is, even the most intelligent students need help in some sort of way. It might be hard to realize it when you're so inwardly focused, but when you look around you, everyone is walking the same path. They just have different strengths and weaknesses. It's an incredible thing when others use their personal strengths to offset your weaknesses. Nursing friends see in you what you don't see in yourself. Nursing friends share your passions, sleepless nights, early mornings, stress, panic attacks, victories, and failures. Nursing friends are your own personal cheerleaders.

It's no secret that we deal with some pretty gross stuff. Who else can you count on when you're walking down the unit trying to find an extra pair of hands to help you change the clothes of a morbidly obese patient who's covered from shoulders to ankles in their stool? Your nursing buds.

What about when your patient goes into v-fib (ventricular fibrillation), and you need someone to relief on chest compressions? Your rock star nurse friends are there to lend a hand or two.

Or what about when you are scrubbing into a C-section for the first time and you're kind of, sort of, secretly concerned you might get queasy or faint? Your nursing squad will remind you how tough you are. They'll assist you as quickly as possible and when you are finished washing your hands a thousand times, they'll make you laugh or smile. They'll always be there to help you with dignity, support, love, and encouragement.

Your nursing friends know which supply closet you go hide in when you are about to lose it or when class is so long it's giving you a headache so they pass you some Tylenol. Nursing friends are the backbone of your nursing school experience. I always love it that whenever I need hand sanitizer, Tylenol/Advil/Motrin or even a Band-Aid, someone always has it.

Even if you don't talk every day, or you take different class times, there is always someone waving hello or asking how you're holding up. You are all so different, but at the same time, you feel like you're surrounded by so many who are just like you. They care as much as you do. They love as much as you do. And the best part? They just love you. Even on your worst days. There will be times when you trip up on the easy stuff you know that you know, but they'll be there with open arms telling you about when they were in the same place. They are the ones who “fight in the trenches" with you. They'll carry you when you can't keep going, and you'll do the same. No woman or man left behind.

Nursing friends are incredible lifelong blessings. So, remember to thank them every once in a while. Keep cheering each other on, keep fighting together and keep reminding each other that the end goal is closer than it seems.

Cover Image Credit: Maddy Cagle

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To Niall Horan And My Best Friend, Thank You For The Best Summer

The summer where we followed Niall on tour.

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To start off, I met my best friend Caroline in the tenth grade. She is my go-to gal, and I could never imagine my life if we didn't become friends. When we first met, we instantly bonded over our love for One Direction together. One Direction was the core of our friendship. We laughed and bawled our teenage boyband obsessed eyes out when they went on their hiatus which meant essentially they would be breaking up.

A year went by, a whole year with no music from any of the boys. Until our senior year rolled around and Niall announced he would be releasing an album and going on tour. Caroline and I were thrilled, we never knew how badly we needed this. When the album was released, we soon bought our concert tickets.

His show was in November of that year. The day of the concert we were overjoyed as we had waited so eagerly for that day. We missed him so much. We waited in line for what seemed like days but in actuality was only eight hours and were able to snag a great place to stand during the show. The concert itself is one of my favorite memories. It was such a warm and welcoming environment, and I never knew I could feel like that. After that show, Caroline and I knew we had to see him again.

We weren't sure when we were going to be able to see him. The next time he was playing in Atlanta was in September of this year. However, Caroline would be at her school in Chicago and had no way to be able to see him in our home town. We came up with a plan. We were going to convince our parents to let us see him in July in Nashville. We made a powerpoint and everything in hopes that it would work.

Our convincing our parents which ended up being a bit easier than we ever expected. We were in the clear to go. We purchased our tickets for that July to see him at Ascend Amphitheater. We bought soundcheck tickets and everything to make this an experience of a lifetime.

July soon come and we headed off for the adventure of a lifetime. It was an experience let me say. Driving on the highway, our GPS taking us down a one-way road and almost being slammed into by eighteen wheelers definitely made it memorable. We made it Nashville in one piece thankfully. We had a few hours before the show and just decided to get ready in our hotel and head to the venue.

Time passed so quickly. It's almost hard for me to remember everything. Niall's soundcheck was such an experience. We got to see a side of him we had never seen. He is one of the nicest people. He cares so deeply about us fans and constantly checking on us.

The show itself was indescribable. He was so happy to be able to play in Nashville. The show was completely sold out. It was a madhouse. Caroline and I befriended the girls beside us, and we danced the whole night away. We had waited for so long and it was just the best feeling to have no worries about anything because everyone was in the same boat and we were all able to appreciate Niall's pure talent together.

When the show ended, we were devastated because a night we had longed for had quickly come to an end. We spend the rest of the night in our room depressed because we didn't know the next time we would be seeing him. In the morning, we decided to go and grab some breakfast.

We had another master plan to try and see him the following night in Ohio. We really didn't think this plan would work. We both had to work the following few days, and we never thought our parents would allow us to do this so last minute. However, everything worked out and we were able to travel to Cincinnati to see him one more time.

In Cincinnati, we had the best time being able to explore the city for a day and being able to go to the show later that evening. We were so appreciative that we were able to see him again. We really had no care in the world. We danced the night away yet again. It was just so great to be able to be in that space and just have the best time listening to your favorite artist.

I will always look back on last summer. My best memories happened because of Niall and I couldn't be more grateful for both him and my best friend. I only hope we can do it again sometime soon.

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