The Yahoo home page recently had a teaser for an article on 10 Easy Ways to Be A Better Person. Given my resolution each year is always to take better care of myself and those around me, I clicked over, curious to see what I could add to my 'to do' list for the year. The article is based on a book by Zoe Weil and focuses on her MOGO (Most Good) principles. It includes some basic stuff like volunteering for a cause and helping build your community, but more than a few are hard to achieve if you're not a hard core, sustainable-minded Vegan that rides your bike to the office where you run your Non-Profit social justice center. I would not call these particularly "easy" ways to be a better person. Sure, if we all did these things the world would be a better place. The world would also be a better place if magic fairies came down and sprinkled us all with peace dust, ending violent crime and war. Sadly, about the same odds of happening.
So it made me think... what ARE some easy ways to be a better person? Certainly there are ways to be a better person without having some sort of massive global impact. I don't have to save the world, but I can be a better person to those around me. So I tried to come up with a couple. I managed five that I thought were important, but they're just a start. I want you to help me build it.
1. Be Grateful. I think most people just take things for granted. Saying 'thank you' is practically a lost art. I try to do my best to say it as much as possible for everything from someone holding the door for me to gifts. I need to do better at sending thank you cards. Hardly anyone does that anymore either, except PC, of course. A piece of mail that isn't junk or a bill is a luxury anymore. Maybe that's why I love Christmas cards. Its the only time anyone sends real mail. This leads me in to #2...
2. Keep In Touch. Yes, I know, we're friends on Facebook. And to be honest, if it wasn't for Facebook, I probably wouldn't be in touch with 80% of the people on that list. But is it a real replacement for relationships? Talking on the phone, going out to lunch, meeting for coffee and having a great talk... Some people are too far away to meet in person, but make the effort to call them or write them a letter. Send one of those 'thinking of you' cards. I guarantee that person will be touched and pleased and much more so than you "poking" them on FB.
3. Be Considerate. It stuns me how often I see people simply going around in their own little self-involved worlds. Only caring about what they want and need without giving any thought to others and how things impact them. People cut you off on the highway or refuse to let you merge. They whip in and take the parking spot you were waiting for. Just unnecessary rudeness. PC posted not long ago about how her neighbor put her trashcan out for her when they forgot. I always try to hold doors and help short or handicapped people in the store reach high shelves. I think we need more of this. More of thinking about others. Just little gestures.
4. Listen. I'll be the first to admit that through a lot of conversations, I'm waiting to talk or thinking about what I want to say next. Or I'll be multitasking, writing an email or doing something else while people are talking. I'm pretty good at it, but am I listening? Really listening? Probably not so much. Sometimes other people just want someone to listen and care about them and what's going on in their world. Not how the same thing happened to your Aunt Harriett. And sometimes the most important part of a discussion is what isn't said. The underlying tension, the unasked questions. The silent plead for a hug. If you aren't really listening, you're missing a lot.
5. Give Back. This is a pretty broad one. Could include anything from volunteering in your community to making the neighbor that put out your trash a plate of homemade cookies as a thank you. Do you have a skill to share? I recently taught a troop of girl scouts about scrapbooking. I've giftwrapped at the mall for charity. Walked a 5k for a good cause. DB used to mow part of our neighbor's yard while he was doing ours. It could be anything, but I think what's important is the act of giving, in any fashion, without expecting anything in return.
What do you think of my list? Add to it! What do you think are some easy ways to be a better person?